BA in International Relations/MA in International Affairs (BA/MAIA)

The Bachelor of Arts in International Relations/Master of Arts in International Affairs (BA/MAIA) is a rigorous five-year program designed to ensure that students develop both broad and deep knowledge of the interdisciplinary field of international relations while acquiring a rich and varied research experience.

The BA/MAIA supports the academic and career goals of undergraduate students by allowing them to graduate with a rigorous professional MA in International Affairs, with only one additional year of course work. In order to complete the program in five years, the last year of undergraduate study is integrated with the first year of graduate work. Students in the BA/MAIA gain foundational education in the economics, history and theory of international relations through their undergraduate coursework which is supplemented with graduate courses on the fundamentals of international relations scholarship, quantitative research methods, the workings of the global economy, and the practice of diplomacy and negotiation.

Students must complete a total of 176 credits, including 128 credits toward their BA and 48 additional credits toward their MAIA.  In order to complete the program in five years, the last year of undergraduate study is integrated with the first year of graduate work.

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 take the 12 four-credit courses and two prerequisites (CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102) required for an undergraduate major in International Relations. At least two courses should be taken at the 500-level or above, with a grade of B- or higher required. Study abroad is required for the BA/MA 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.

Required Principal Courses

Required principal courses are designed to develop a general understanding of the economic, political, historic, and geographic factors that influence the international system. Students must take all four of the courses listed below:

  • CAS IR 271 Introduction to International Relations
  • CAS IR 292 Fundamentals of International Economics*
  • CAS IR 349 History of International Relations, 1900-45
  • CAS IR 350 History of International Relations Since 1945

The Pardee School offers courses in 10 distinct subfields known as “tracks.” Tracks are divided into two types: functional and regional.

Students must complete 48 additional credits ( 12 four-credit courses) towards their MAIA degree with a grade of B- or better. These credits are split between the MAIA core courses, MAIA specialization courses, electives and a directed study as part of writing their final MA Paper.

Core Courses

Students take the three MAIA core courses listed below:

  • GRS IR 601 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 602 Quantitative Analysis for Global Affairs
  • GRS IR 604 Negotiation and Diplomacy

Specialization Courses

Students take six or seven MA courses (500-level or above) in any MAIA specialization including:

At least two specializations courses must be at the 700-level or above.

Most specializations require 6 courses, but the Religion and International Affairs specialization requires 7.


Students take one or two graduate-level elective courses

Students completing the seven-course specialization Religion and International Affairs specialization are required to take one elective, while students in any of the other six-course specializations are required to take two electives.

MA Paper

Students write a Master’s 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 adviser. 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 adviser).

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

Foreign Language

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.

Residency Requirement

Students must fulfill a five-year (10 academic semesters) residency requirement regardless of external credits or summer courses, enabling students to complete double-majors and minors if they so choose during their undergraduate phase. Residency includes BU Study-Abroad programs.

Transfer students must fulfill a minimum three-to-four-year (six-eight academic semesters) residency requirement dependent on transfer credits. Transfer students with 27 transfer credits or above must fulfill a three-year residency requirement. Transfer students with 12-26 transfer credits must fulfill a four-year residency requirement.

Residency requirement can only be modified by permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, and only in the event that a student demonstrates the need to study abroad at a non-BU program.