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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.

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 makes it possible for you to shape your degree according to your interests and schedules, however, this program is not fully online. Some courses must be taken on the WashU campus.


The Master of Arts in International Affairs is a 30-unit program that includes four core courses and a capstone research project. 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:

    • individual 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

    We have suspended in-person advising appointments temporarily according to the university’s response to COVID-19. Students should not come to campus, but advisors are still available to help you by email, phone or Zoom.​​​​ 

    Student advising is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

    Rebecca O'Laughlin


    Rebecca O'Laughlin
    Academic Advisor

    Meet with Rebecca

    required course work

    Required Core Courses: 12 units

    Students must take four core courses aimed at the acquiring of a common understanding of foundational knowledge and skills for analyzing international affairs, thus enhancing students' abilities to be thoughtful and critical users of academic research in applied settings and while 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:

    • US Law and International Relations (U85 5080)
    • 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)
    • National Security Decision Making (U85 5310)
    • American Foreign Policy (U85 535)
    • Alternative Analytic Techniques for International Affairs (U85 5410)
    • Politics of Global Finance (U85 5571)
    • International Relations (U85 574)
    • 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 so that they are better prepared 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: 15 units

    Capstone Research Project: 3 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. 

    Learn more about the capstone research project.

    application requirements

    Application Deadlines

    Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and typically take four to six weeks. Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by the following dates:

    • SUMMER 2021: APRIL 15, 2021
    • FALL 2021: JULY 31, 2021
    • SPRING 2022: DEC. 31, 2021
    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 and the required documents have been received.

    Official transcripts from all previous college work

    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 For transcript questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Patricia Agnew, at

    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), Spantran or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). For Spantran evaluations, you must use this form


    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/IELTS scores (if applicable)

    All international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores at the time of application. The TOEFL, IELTS and Duolingo requirement 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, TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores are then required for admission. 

    For international student application deadlines, please click HERE.

    Additional TOEFL and IELTS information for international students adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on University College’s International Student Information webpage.

    Three Letters of Recommendation

    Letters of recommendation should be completed by teachers or professional associates. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.

    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 KellerMA in International Affairs

    See Katlyn's Story

    Still have questions?

    Program Coordinator: Jeremy Caddel | (314) 935-7647 |

    Academic Advisor: Rebecca O'Laughlin | (314) 935-6742 | ROLAUGHLIN@WUSTL.EDU