Master of Arts in International Affairs
Breathtaking changes in political, economic and social relations have taken place over the past several centuries. Living and working in a rapidly changing global environment presents great opportunities to advance the human condition, promote growth and development, create political liberties, recast bargains between governments and their societies, transform social welfare, and advance the boundaries of knowledge and scientific exploration.
Yet, the same context presents great risks as people fear loss of identity, worry about economic subordination and loss to those beyond their borders, encounter environmental degradation, and confront potential decline in personal and social autonomy. Our heightened economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental interdependence generate serious challenges in areas such as social justice, health, security, development, human rights, social welfare, inequality, diversity, and technology. The challenges create the possibility of conflict, but also for cooperation and compromise.
The Master of Arts in International Affairs offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding global issues. The program draws on teaching and expertise from Washington University faculty and experienced practitioners in the St. Louis region, and it provides knowledge and skills for understanding and working with some of the most difficult international and cross-cultural problems that states, societies, and communities face. You have the opportunity to tailor your studies to explore topics such as global politics, global economics, development, international security and conflict, international business, human rights, the role of gender, the environment and sustainability, and issues of regional importance.
Whether you are studying full-time or part-time, a range of on-campus and online courses make it possible for you to shape your degree according to your interests and schedules.
The Master of Arts in International Affairs is a 30-unit program that includes four core courses and a capstone research project, which is either a Directed Research Project (3-units) or a Master’s Thesis (6-units). The purpose of the required core courses is to develop a coherent structure underpinning the M.A. by ensuring some common theoretical foundations, knowledge, and language shared by students in this program and with graduates of similar programs around the world. This contributes to the building of a professional community and identity. In addition to the required courses and the capstone project, at least three courses must be home-based in International Affairs. Remaining electives may be chosen from International Affairs seminars or from other graduate-level courses approved by University College.
required course work
Students must take four core courses aimed at students acquiring a common understanding of foundational knowledge and skills for analyzing international affairs, enhancing their abilities to be thoughtful and critical users of academic research in applied settings, and pursuing careers in the field.
One required course is Process and Design of Research (U85 524), a research writing and methods seminar that helps students develop systematic tools for use as practitioners who write and present their work.
The other three core courses, selected from a list of core courses, provide a theoretical and substantive foundation for the analysis and understanding of international affairs. Students can choose at least three of the following courses:
- Theories of International Relations (U85 574)
- International Organizations (U85 509)
- International Law and the Use of Force (U85 511)
- International Growth and Development (U85 519)
- American Foreign Policy (U85 535)
- International Economics (U85 5181)
- Politics of Global Finance (U85 5571)
- International Political Economy in Theory and Practice (U85 559)
- Global Political Economy (U85 5780)
- State Failure, State Success and Development (U85 5772)
These courses are designed to enable students to develop expertise and understanding of dominant analytical frameworks, tools, and common language in the field of international affairs to engage with other professionals in the field. A selection of three core courses, which are overlapping, ensures that this foundation will be sound and robust.
After completing formal course work, all students are required to complete a capstone research project under the supervision of a Washington University faculty member. The research project is either a 3-unit Directed Research Project, or especially strong students can opt for a 6-unit Master’s Thesis.
Learn more about the capstone research project.
The online application is available online on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed, required documents have been received, and the application fee is paid.
Contact the registrar at each previous college or university attended to request an official transcript. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College.
Tell us about yourself in a brief essay (about 250 words). Why are you applying to University College? What are your goals, both academic and professional? Is there additional information we should know about you when considering your application?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, official TOEFL scores must be forwarded to University College.
Graduates of a U.S. university or college or Canada, Australia, and U.K. residents are exempt if they have earned a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree from such college or university.
You may pay by credit card online, or via check or money order payable to Washington University in St. Louis. You may also pay the fee by cash at the University College office.
This fee is waived for all WashU staff.
Letters of recommendation should be completed by teachers or professional associates. They can be submitted as part of your online application or mailed to University College.
Please submit a relevant and recent academic writing sample, preferably one that is research-based. Alternatively, please submit an original essay in which you analyze a current international issue or problem.