BA in International Relations/MA in International Affairs

The BA in International Relations/MA in International Affairs (BA/MAIA) is intended for exceptional students who wish to develop deeper knowledge of international affairs as well as professionally relevant skills in the practice of international affairs than are available at the BA level. Insofar as graduates will be awarded the same degree as our professional MA students, it requires equivalent achievement and coursework, even as it allows students to complete the MAIA in less time than it would normally take to complete a professional MA in international affairs.

The BA/MAIA program requires 176 credits, 56 of which must be at the graduate level. Students must also study abroad, demonstrate foreign language proficiency, and complete a capstone research or policy paper defended orally before a panel of three faculty members.

A BA/MAIA degree prepares graduates for a wide variety of careers in the field of international affairs, including work for national governments, IGOs, and NGOs, as well as doctoral or other graduate work in social science disciplines, law, and other professions.

By integrating the BA and MAIA curricula and eliminating duplication between them, the dual BA/MA program allows students with careful planning to complete both degrees in 10 semesters. To do so, students may apply AP or IB credits, take Summer Term classes, or take additional courses during the academic year as overloads. Students may also, with approval of the Associate Dean of Studies, take an extra semester to complete the program.

For information on eligibility, application requirements, and deadlines, please see the Pardee School BA/MAIA program webpage. Applicants must have completed four International Relations courses, in addition to the prerequisites CAS EC 101 and 102, and including at least one regional or functional track course, at the time of application. Students should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50 and major GPA of 3.60 (excluding CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102) at the time of application. All students considering applying for the BA/MAIA should meet with their academic advisor to discuss an academic plan and how the BA/MAIA degree advances their goals and interests.

Learning Outcomes


  • Students will demonstrate substantive interdisciplinary knowledge of legal, political, economic, social, cultural, and historical factors influencing international affairs.
  • Students will display an in-depth understanding of an important functional subfield of the discipline and a major geographical region of the world.
  • Students will conduct theoretically informed and empirically based analysis of real-world conditions and events and present the results of that analysis persuasively in written and oral forms.


  • Students will possess a comprehensive understanding of contemporary international relations from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in key skills, including quantitative and economic analysis, negotiation, and oral and written communication.
  • Students will be able to ethically deliberate the varied impacts of policy decisions on diverse regions, populations, and stakeholders.
  • Students will possess particular expertise in their selected specialization.


The BA/MA program requires a total of 176 credits. Students are required to study abroad at a minimum for one semester or one summer program. Students choosing a summer study abroad option must choose a program that carries at least 6 credits. Students are also required to fulfill a 5-year (10 academic semesters) residency requirement, excluding summer coursework. Transfer students will fulfill a 3-to-4-year residency requirement, depending on the number of credits they have transferred to Boston University. All students select two tracks for their BA program. The choice of MAIA specialization does not need to clearly correspond to the BA functional track. All applicants for the BA/MAIA program must complete a Plan of Study. To complete the plan, applicants must meet with their undergraduate academic advisor regarding their undergraduate requirements and with the Graduate Student Affairs Administrator regarding the graduate requirements. Any subsequent changes to the Plan of Study must be approved by both the undergraduate and graduate academic advisors.

BA Requirements

Students must complete all the requirements of the BA in International Relations with the additional requirement that two of the eight BA track courses must be at the 500 level or above, with grades of B– or higher. Study abroad is required for the BA/MAIA program. Students may study abroad through one of BU’s 40 study abroad programs or in an external program. If students opt for a summer program, it must total 6 credits or above. For international students, study abroad is not required.

MA Course Requirements

In addition to the BA requirements, 48 credits of graduate coursework must be completed with a grade of B– or higher.

  • GRS IR 601 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 602 Quantitative Analysis for Global Affairs [Students who have completed CAS MA 116, CAS MA 214, CAS EC 305, and/or QST SM 222 do not need to take IR 602. Instead, they may choose any graduate-level elective.]
  • GRS IR 604 Negotiation and Diplomacy
  • GRS IR 799 MAIA Paper Workshop (Directed Study)
  • Completion of an MAIA specialization consisting of six graduate-level specialization courses, of which two must be at the 700 level or above. Specializations currently include: Diplomacy; Global Economic Affairs; Security Studies; Religion & International Affairs; and International Communication.
  • Sufficient elective credits at the 500 level or above to reach 48 total credits.

MA Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in International Affairs are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency must be demonstrated through a language examination or successful completion of one of BU’s zero-credit graduate-level language reading courses, GRS L* 621. In the case of non-native English speakers who will earn their undergraduate degree from Boston University, knowledge of English fulfills this requirement.

Master’s Paper

Students write a Master’s Paper (commonly referred to as an MA Paper) as the capstone component of their degree, in the context of a Directed Study with a faculty advisor. 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 faculty members chosen by the Associate Dean for Studies (with the student’s paper advisor serving as one of the three). The purpose of the oral examination is to test the student’s knowledge in the area of research related to the MA Paper as well as the student’s ability to discuss that knowledge at length in a clear and compelling manner.

Honors in the Major

Students who are eligible for the BA/MAIA degree are also eligible for the Pardee School Honors program. Eligible students may apply to both programs. However, due to the significant academic requirements of each program, students may only participate in one.