MAIA Security Studies Specialization

The two-year MA in International Affairs (MAIA) with a Specialization in Security Studies prepares students for a variety of careers within the security and intelligence fields.

Rigorous core classes train students in the fundamentals of international relations scholarship, quantitative research methods, the workings of the global economy, and the practice of diplomacy and negotiation. Electives enable students to gain in-depth understanding of the issues most important to them.

Most classes are taught once per year, but some, particularly those outside the Pardee School, may be taught less frequently.

The MA in International Affairs with a Specialization in Security Studies requires a total of 16 courses (64 credits) divided among core classes (20 credits), specialization (24 credits) and electives (20 credits). Elective coursework can include up to two undergraduate or graduate language courses (8 credits).


Students take four core classes (16 credits) that provide breadth of knowledge in the critical issues and research techniques of international affairs plus a directed study (4 credits) with their advisor in their final semester as part of writing an individual MA research or policy paper.

  • GRS IR 601 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 602 Quantitative Analysis for Global Affairs
  • GRS IR 603 Economics for Global Policy
  • GRS IR 604 Negotiation and Diplomacy
  • GRS IR 799 Master’s Paper (Directed Study with MA Paper Advisor)

Students take one required course (4 credits):

  • CAS IR 703 International Security

Students take five courses (20 credits) from the set of approved courses below or other courses with pre-approval from the Director of Graduate Studies:

  • CAS IR 501 (PO 554) Conflict and Cooperation in Asia
  • CAS IR 503 (PO 503) The U. S. in the Middle East
  • CAS IR 505 Arms Control and Proliferation of Weapons
  • CAS IR 506 India and the World: The Foreign Policy of a Rising Power
  • CAS IR 508 Islamic Political Movements and U.S. Policy
  • CAS IR 509 (PO 556) Islam in Middle East Politics
  • CAS IR 510 Comparative Immigration and Racial Politics
  • CAS IR 511 The Middle East Today
  • CAS IR 516 Intelligence and Homeland Security
  • CAS IR 518 (PO 583) Gender and War
  • CAS IR 519 People Power in Global Politics
  • CAS IR 521 Congress and National Security
  • CAS IR 526 National and Homeland Security Law
  • CAS IR 534 (PO 571) Government and Politics of Contemporary Africa
  • CAS IR 542 The Reemergence of Russia
  • CAS IR 543 The Changing Face of Eastern Europe
  • CAS IR 545 The Arctic and Global Politics
  • CAS IR 546 Power and Legitimacy: Ideology as a Political Tool
  • CAS IR 548 United Nations Peace Operations
  • CAS IR 556 Current Intelligence Issues
  • CAS IR 568 (PO 565) U.S.-Latin American Relations
  • CAS IR 569 Politics & Society in North Africa and the Middle East
  • CAS IR 577 (PO 576) Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China
  • CAS IR 579 (PO 552) Japan in International Politics
  • CAS IR 581 The Evolution of Strategic Intelligence
  • CAS IR 589 (PO 582) North Atlantic/European Security Issues
  • CAS IR 598 International Business Intelligence and Security Practices
  • GRS IR 630 (PO 569) Money, Guns, and Power
  • GRS IR 703 International Security
  • GRS IR 706 The Iranian Revolution and Its Impact on the Middle East
  • GRS IR 711 (AN 711, PO 754) Civil Society and the State
  • GRS IR 778 Problems of Strategic Intelligence
  • GRS IR 780 CIA’s National Clandestine Service
  • GRS IR 786 (PO 786) Conflict and State-Building in Africa
  • GRS IR 788 (PO 789) International Relations of Asia-Pacific

Students select five elective courses (20 credits), from the graduate-level course offerings of the Pardee School. Students may include up to two undergraduate or graduate language courses (8 credits).

Students are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Graduate-level proficiency is the ability to understand newspaper and professional journal articles in the field of foreign relations accurately, using standard reference materials. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination or successful completion of one of the non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading courses offered by Boston University.

In the case of non-native English speakers who were required to submit a TOEFL score report as part of their application for admission, knowledge of English fulfills this requirement.

Students write a Master’s Paper (commonly referred to as an MA Paper) as the capstone component of their degree. The paper may take one of two forms:  either a traditional research paper or a policy paper.  Students are given broad latitude in selecting topics and approaches, in consultation with their advisors. All MA Papers must be defended orally in front of a panel of three professors, chosen by the Pardee School (one of the three professors will be the student’s advisor).

As part of writing their MA paper, students take a directed study (4 credits) with their advisor in their final semester.