MA in International Relations & MBA

The MA in International Relations & Master of Business Administration (IR MA & MBA) dual degree program meets the needs of students seeking careers in administrative management, international affairs, consulting, international banking, or finance. Students learn all the essential skills of business management through coursework at Questrom School of Business and couple that with an understanding of international politics, economics, and security issues learned through coursework in international relations. The entire degree program may be completed in five semesters if done full time.

The IR MA & MBA is a joint offering of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and Questrom School of Business.


Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in international relations, political science, or a related discipline such as history or economics. Applicants whose undergraduate coursework has been in fields not closely related to international relations will also be considered if they can demonstrate commitment to and knowledge of international affairs through their career or extracurricular experiences. Additionally, Questrom strongly prefers candidates to have several years of work experience prior to applying for the MBA program.

Applicants to the IR MA & MBA program should apply to both the Pardee School and Questrom School of Business.

Course Requirements

For full-time students, the MA in International Relations & Master of Business Administration requires a total of 80 credits, including 32 IR credits, 40 Questrom credits, and 8 credits taken in either IR or Questrom. For those students who are in the Professional Evening MBA Program, the degree requires 72 credits, consisting of 32 IR credits, 32 Questrom credits, and 8 credits taken in either IR or Questrom. In addition to the course requirements listed below, remaining credits should be fulfilled through approved elective courses.

Core Course Requirements

Listings of courses that satisfy each of the IR core areas can be found online.

  • One course in three of the following four IR core areas of study:
    • Theory & Policy
    • Political Economy
    • Security Studies
    • Regional Studies
  • Full-time students complete the standard 34-credit MBA core curriculum through study in Questrom plus 6 credits of MBA electives. Part-time students complete a similar, but distinct, 32-credit MBA core curriculum, and they are not required to complete electives to meet their minimum Questrom enrollment for this dual degree.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in International Relations & MBA are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated through either a language examination or successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course 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.

Master’s Paper

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). 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.