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.

Program Objectives

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

    Required Core Courses: 12 units

    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:

    • International Organizations (U85 509)
    • UN and International Security (U85 510)
    • International Law and the Use of Force (U85 511)
    • International Growth and Development (U85 519)
    • American Foreign Policy (U85 535)
    • Theories of International Relations (U85 574)
    • US Law and International Relations (U85 5080)
    • International Economics (U85 5181)
    • National Security Decision Making (U85 5310)
    • Alternative Analytic Techniques for International Affairs (U85 5410)
    • Politics of Global Finance (U85 5571)
    • 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.

    Additional International Affairs Courses: 12-15 units

    Capstone Research Project: 3-6 units

    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.

    application requirements

    Completed application form

    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.

    Official transcripts from all previous college work

    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.

    Personal Essay

    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?

    TOEFL scores (if applicable)

    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.

    $35 application fee

    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.

    Three Letters of Recommendation

    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.

    Writing Sample

    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.

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    Katlyn Keller

    "All of my professors worked in the fields for which they were teaching. They are the reason I decided to work for the UN, and I know that University College will help get me there."

    ―Katlyn KellerM.A. in International Affairs

    See Katlyn's Story

    Still have questions?

    Program Coordinator: Andrew Sobel | (314) 935-5845 |

    Director of Advising and Student Services: Elizabeth Fogt | (314) 935-6778 |

    Administrative Assistant for Academic Programs: Holly Schroeder | (314) 935-6759 |