US Army Foreign Area Officer Program

The Pardee School has enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the Army FAO program. FAOs provide a unique and enriching perspective to our classes, benefiting all of our students. Our FAO graduates have gone on to successful careers serving their country in numerous postings across the globe.

Our Mid-Career MA program is ideal for U.S. Army Officers required to complete a master’s program as part of their training in the FAO program. Boston University is on the U.S. Army approved list of schools for Advanced Civil Schooling in African studies, East Asian studies, East and West European studies, Latin American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and Russian studies.

If applying as a FAO, please indicate ‘FAO’ in the specialization field of the application.

The Mid-Career Program

The Mid-Career MA program requires 32 credit hours of coursework, a statistics course requirement, a foreign language requirement, and an MA Paper and Oral Defense thereof. See the sections of this website on the Mid-Career MA and on the IR Core Requirements for more information on the program requirements. Foreign Area Officers may be exempted from the department’s written examination for foreign language proficiency, pending a satisfactory review of Defense Language Institute transcripts.

It is possible for students in this degree program to complete all of their requirements in one academic year. However, the majority of our students require 12 months (two regular academic terms plus a summer) at the university. FAOs are expected to take a full course load of four classes for each of their two regular semesters in the program and are not permitted to take classes over the summer. Instead, they are expected to work full time toward the research and writing of their MA Paper during that time.

Although BU normally allows students in the mid-career program to take a third semester to write the MA Paper, FAO’s need to get special permission from the Army to stay for a third semester, as the Army normally permits FAO’s only 12 months to complete their MA program. 12 months is a sufficient length of time for completion of the program. In any case, the summer and third semester will incur minimal additional cost to the Army and is provided for in our arrangements with the Army.

Financial Arrangement

FAOs who pursue their MA at BU will not need to pay any out-of-pocket tuition expense, although they may incur other out-of-pocket expenses. Click here to view more details on the financial arrangement between BU and the Army.

Language Practice

For many FAOs, it is important to have available a means to maintain their foreign language skills. Boston University provides a cost-free and enjoyable means to sustain or even improve students’ foreign language skills through the Language Link program of the Educational Resource Center (ERC). The Language Link provides an opportunity for BU students, faculty, staff and alumni to enhance their foreign language skills in small, informal, conversation groups led by native and accomplished speakers. Although offerings vary from semester to semester, they typically include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

In addition, the Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures Department at BU offers six Graduate Reading Knowledge courses which are available to students in our program. These classes are zero credit, pass/fail classes and will not incur any additional expense on the part of the student or the Army. Currently, these courses are offered in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Normally, each of these classes is offered at least once every academic year; however, offerings are subject to the availability of faculty. Note: FAO’s may not take one of these classes during their third semester at BU, because BU requires that students pay some amount of tuition in order to be eligible to take these classes, and the Army is not charged tuition for a FAOs third semester in the program.

Boston Cross-registration Consortium

Boston University is a member of a consortium of Boston area schools which have agreed to permit their graduate students to cross-register for classes offered by other member schools.

In addition to Boston University, the cross-registration consortium includes Brandeis University, Boston College, Tufts University, and Hebrew College. The consortium opens to our graduate students a wide range of course offerings.

Other Armed Services

Some other branches of the US armed services have officer programs comparable to the Army FAO program.  Officers in such programs are eligible to apply to BU under the same program, and conditions, as Army FAOs, provided that their branch of service will pay at least as much toward the officer’s education as the US Army (contact us to inquire about the current rate).