MA in International Relations & International Communication

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An understanding of international relations is necessary for the practice of international communication. The two-year joint International Relations & International Communication (IRIC) degree program prepares students for careers in an international setting working in journalism, mass communication, advertising, marketing, public relations, and other fields. The IRIC degree is a joint program of the IR Department and the College of Communication (COM).

Coursework is split evenly between IR and COM. During the program, students are encouraged to take both IR and COM courses concurrently rather than focusing one year on each. Students in this program are also eligible for the College of Communication London and Washington DC Programs, which provide students with the opportunity to learn outside the traditional university campus.

If they wish, students may complete the African Studies Certificate or the Asian Studies Certificate as a component of this degree.

To see a progress report for IRIC students, go to the forms page.

Requirements of the Program

Students are required to complete all of the IR core requirements, including the General Core Course, Foreign Language, Statistics, and MA Paper requirements. IRIC students may fulfill the Statistics requirement with CM 722, Communication Research.

IRIC Students take a total of 16 courses (64 credits), normally eight IR courses and eight COM courses. In both IR and COM, these courses must satisfy three categories: core, track, and elective. Both the IR and COM components consist of three core, three track, and two elective courses.

The IR component consists of:

  • Three core courses, taken from three of the four core areas of Theory and Policy, Political Economy, Security Studies, and Regional Studies
  • A minimum of three track classes, based on a track chosen by the student in consultation with the IR Graduate Programs Administrator. Click here for a list of IR tracks.
  • A maximum of two elective courses, which may be selected from any of the approved IR elective courses.  See the Core Requirements page for more information.

The COM component consists of:

In special cases, students may, with prior approval, shift one of their Electives from COM to IR or vice versa.

Communication Core Course Requirement

Students complete both CAS IR 531, Intercultural Communication, and CM 710, Communication Theory. IR 531 is taught only in the Fall Semester and CM 710 is taught only in the Spring Semester; students should plan their course schedules accordingly. Students must also complete one additional Core Course from the following list:

  • COM CM 722 Communication Research
  • COM CM 729 Public Opinion and Public Policy
  • COM CM 831, International Communication

For courses that can be taken either toward a track or as a core class (e.g., CM 722), students must choose whether to use the course toward their track or their core requirement, not both.

International Students must take COM CM 705, Writing for International Students. This course will replace one of the student’s electives. Exception: International Students whose native language is English need not take CM 705.

Communication Track Course Requirement

Students must complete a minimum of three courses from one of the tracks listed below. Students may not ‘double-count’ a course that can be taken either toward a track or toward the COM core. Students have to choose whether to use that course toward their track or their core requirement, not both.

All COM tracks include one to two required courses, shown in bold in the listings. 

Journalism Marketing Public Relations Global Tech Policy COM Research

Please note that some COM courses have prerequisites. Students should consult with the COM coordinator for the IRIC program prior to registering for their first semester in the program, in order to ensure that they take the prerequisites necessary to enable them to take the more advanced courses that they wish to take. Prerequisites for courses are noted in parentheses after the course title.

Due to the prerequisites involved in taking the track courses, it is difficult to switch from one track to another after having started the program. Students should give careful thought to their degree and career plans so as to be able to choose a track prior to the first semester of coursework. When applying to the IRIC program, students should indicate in the ‘Specialization’ field of the application which COM Track they intend to choose. The choice indicated on the application is not binding for the applicant, but knowing students’ intended tracks helps us in scheduling the appropriate number of course sections for the upcoming semester.

Communication Electives

Any COM class that can be taken as a core or track class may also be taken as an elective. Listed below are additional COM classes that can be taken as electives. Students may also petition the COM coordinator for permission to take a class not on this list.

  • CM 518 Creative Broadcast Advertising (CM 707, CM 708, and CM 717)
  • CM 704 Contemporary Mass Media (Fall Semester Only)
  • CM 705 Writing for International Students (Fall Only; International Students Only)
  • CM 707 Writing for Media Professionals (Fall Semester Only)
  • CM 744 International Political and Media Systems (London Only)

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London Abroad Programs

The College of Communication offers two exciting abroad programs in London that are available to students in the IRIC program. Both programs combine intensive coursework with a professional internship in the field.

 

London Mass Communication Program

The London Graduate Mass Communication Program offers students in the Public Relations and Marketing Tracks the opportunity to spend a summer studying in London. The program provides a full 16 credits toward the degree, thus replacing one regular semester of coursework.

The first six weeks in London are spent taking two core courses: CM 738, Global Marketing Communication, and CM 744, International Political and Media Systems. CM 738 can be used as either a Marketing or Public Relations Track course or an Elective. CM 744 can be used as a Marketing or Public Relations Track course or an Elective.

During the last seven weeks, students work full-time in their internships (CM 809) and work on an independent research project (CM 909). Both the internship and the research project can be used as either a Marketing or Public Relations Track course or as an Elective.

Please note that in order to participate in this program, students in Public Relations must take CM 701 and students in Marketing must take CM 708 prior to going to London. Both CM 701 and CM 708 are offered only during the Fall Semester, so students will need to plan their course schedule accordingly.  Additionally, students should keep in mind that CM 710, a required core class, is taught only in the Spring Semester.

You can find more information about this program here.

London Journalism Program

The London Graduate Journalism Program provides students in the Journalism Track with the opportunity to spend their second Fall Semester in the IRIC program studying abroad in London.

All students take JO 701, Reporting British Politics and Culture, and JO 954, Journalism Directed Study (students will complete a substantial journalistic assignment of 5,000 – 6,000 words). Additionally, all students will be placed in an internship (JO 737). Students can choose between either JO 708, The Foreign Correspondent: Reporting from Europe, or JO 710 Modern British Drama: A Critic’s Perspective.

All courses taken for this program, as well as the internship, can be used as either Journalism Track courses or Electives. The London program coursework plus the two required Journalism classes (JO 721 and JO 722) will absorb all of a student’s COM Track and elective coursework (as well as one of the student’s IR electives). This means that coursework taken at the Boston campus needs to focus on satisfying the other requirements of the degree program.

Please note that because the London Journalism program takes place during the Fall Semester, students planning to take advantage of this opportunity must plan their schedule carefully. One of the core requirements of the IRIC degree, IR 531 is only taught during the Fall Semester. This means that students planning to participate in the London program must take IR 531 during their first Fall Semester in the IRIC program. Students must also take both JO 721 and JO 722 prior to going to London. As a result, students will normally be able to participate in the London program only during their second Fall Semester in the program.

You can find more information about this program here.

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Washington, DC Journalism Program

The College of Communication offers an excellent Journalism study program in Washington, DC. IRIC students with a Journalism Track are welcome to participate. The program runs during both the Spring and Fall Semesters.



The Washington program consists of JO 510, Government and the Press (4 cr.); CM 556 Strategies for Issue Development and Policy Change (4 cr.); and JO 954, Newsroom (8 cr.). The Newsroom component of the program consists of working two to three days per week in the BU Newsroom at BU’s Washington campus, writing stories on political and public affairs news under the guidance of BU faculty.

Please note that in order to participate in this program, students must take both JO 721 and JO 722 prior to going to Washington, DC. This means that students will normally be eligible to undertake this program only in their third or fourth semester at BU. Additionally, the Washington, DC program coursework plus the two required Journalism classes (JO 721 and JO 722) will absorb all of a student’s COM concentration and elective coursework (as well as one of the student’s IR electives). This means that coursework taken at the Boston campus needs to focus on satisfying the other requirements of the degree program.

You can find more information about this program here.

COM Career Services

Students in the IRIC program are eligible to use the College of Communication Career Services Office. The website for that office can be found here.

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