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 generates serious challenges in areas such as social justice, health, security, development, human rights, social welfare, inequality, diversity, and technology. The challenges create the possibility for 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 makes 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 MA 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. Remaining electives may be chosen from International Affairs seminars or from other graduate-level courses approved by University College.
Our advisors go the extra mile to help you navigate your path and needs. We will provide you with the tools to make each moment spent on your education as valuable as possible. Students will receive:
- one-on-one, hour long appointments with an experienced advisor;
- career planning services to prepare you for opportunities after graduation;
- a partner throughout your journey to ensure success.
Schedule an Appointment
Student advising is available at our West Campus location from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and at our Danforth Campus location from 2-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 1-5 p.m. on Friday.
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 choose at least three core courses as indicated by the IAC attribute in the course description. Examples include:
- 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)
- 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.
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 and the required documents have been received.
Transcript from the institution where you received your bachelor's degree or a higher-level degree, was conferred. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College. Electronic transcripts should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. For transcript questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Patricia Agnew, at email@example.com.
Non-United States course work transcript verification
If the transcript you submit for consideration is from a college or university outside the United States, a course by course transcript evaluation is also required. Evaluations will be accepted from World Education Services (WES) or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).
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?
All international students are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores at the time of application. The TOEFL and IELTS may be waived for applicants who, immediately prior to their application for admission, have done both of the following:
- Lived for three years or longer in the United States or another country where English is the primary language of daily life (e.g. Canada or United Kingdom).
- Completed three or more years of study at a college or university which is located in that country and where the language of instruction is English.
This policy applies to all international students, even those who have earned a degree from a United States college or university.
If an applicant moves away from an English-speaking country after living and studying there for three years or more, the TOEFL or IELTS is then required for admission.
Letters of recommendation should be completed by teachers or professional associates. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.
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.