Master of Arts

Engage With Policymakers
Prepare to Lead
On the Front Lines
Articulating Ideas

Proximity to power and access to thought leaders create rich academic and professional opportunities.

Johns Hopkins SAIS always has attracted idealistic individuals who want to make a difference in the global community.

Study with professors who are practitioners in their field.

Classes are discussion-driven and characterized by vigorous debate.

International Economics
Policy Areas or Regions of the World
Quantitative Reasoning
Core Courses/Exams
Contact Us

Master of Arts

This two-year program for full-time students is the cornerstone of the Johns Hopkins SAIS experience. About half of all entering MA students spend a year in Bologna and a year in Washington, while the other half spend both years in Washington. The academic program is the same and consists of interdisciplinary course work in international relations, economics and languages.

Study With World-Class Thinkers

The Students
Students do more than study global politics and interactions among nations-they live international relations. Our student body represents approximately 75 nations, promoting a diversity that lends richness and vitality to academic life.

The Faculty
The faculty are world renowned for their expertise and commitment to teaching. They transition seamlessly from academia to government service, from the field to the classroom, from elite journals to the mainstream media.

Recent Speakers
  • US Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  • Former Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi
  • Media Mogul Tina Brown

Global Presence, International Perspective

About half of all entering MA students spend a year in Bologna and a year in Washington, while the other half spend both years in Washington. Students who are proficient in Mandarin may pursue a five-semester option by completing two semesters in Nanjing to receive a certificate in Chinese and American Studies, combined with three semesters in the MA program. One of these three semesters must be at the Washington campus.

Washington, DC Bologna, Italy Nanjing, China
Washington, DC is an
undisputed center of power that
acts as an extension of the school's campus. Students interact with distinguished guest speakers engaged in foreign policy from across the globe and are positioned to take advantage of valuable internship opportunities.
Studying in Bologna is complemented by a thematic seminar series, small classes, strong faculty-student relationships and vigorous debates characterize the cohesive social and intellectual community. Located on the campus of Nanjing University, the Center upholds the highest American and Chinese academic standards in the pursuit of educating future leaders in the field of global-Sino relations.


Gain a Career-Building Edge

Our graduates are in great demand by employers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Economics knowledge, analytical abilities, regional expertise, diplomatic skills, language proficiency and the capacity to apply theory to real-world problems give students a distinct professional advantage.

Career Services
Career Services works with students to help them explore careers and set goals, acquire experience through internships and develop a network of professional contacts. Career services staff members:
  • Offer both group and individual assessments and counseling to help students develop focused career goals
  • Organize job-hunting workshops, employment fairs and career treks
  • Offer professional skills courses that augment the academic curriculum to help students develop specific professional skills, such as presentation techniques, consulting skills and financial modeling
  • Connect students to the school's influential worldwide alumni network

A Global Alumni Community
As a graduate, you will join a 16,000-strong lifetime community of friends and colleagues around the world. Our accomplished alumni are leaders in government, business, journalism, nonprofit groups and multilateral organizations in more than 140 countries.

Common Paths
Alumni have pursued careers at:
  • US Department of State
  • United Nations
  • The World Bank
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • US Agency for International Development
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • The EU Commission
  • Brookings Institution


Core Curriculum

The interdisciplinary program offers the theoretical insight and practical tools required for leadership in the field of international relations. All MA students pursue two concentrations—the first in international economics and the second in either an international policy area or a region of the world. In addition, students satisfy a quantitative reasoning requirement, fulfill core requirements, achieve language graduation requirements in a foreign language and complete a program capstone.

Students attend the program full-time over two years. A total of 64 credits, approximately 16 classes, are required to complete the degree. Students usually enroll in four classes (16 credits), plus a language each semester.

International Economics concentration: 16 credits (approximately four courses)
International Policy or Regional concentration: 20-24 credits (approximately 5-6 courses)
Quantitative Reasoning: 4 credits (1 course)
Electives: approximately 20-24 credits (5-6 courses); a student can opt to take the core courses as electives in place of passing the exams; students may also opt to pursue the optional curriculum options below using electives

Optional Curriculum

MA students have the option of pursing a minor in either an international policy area or a region of the world. A minor consists of 12 credits, approximately three classes. If there is a common course between a student's minor and their international policy or regional concentration, this may reduce the total number of required minor courses by one.

Students may also choose to specialize in an academic area. Specializations are offered in International Economics and include Development Microeconomics, Economic Policy, Infrastructure Finance and Policy, International Finance, and Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets. Generally a specialization consists of three to four courses.

Some MA students pursue dual-degree or cooperative programs in business, law, public administration, public health, public policy and international diplomacy. The school offers formal partnerships with leading graduate schools. Students may also request an ad-hoc dual-degree program of study (non-formal program) with other prominent two-year programs. Approved dual-degree students receive a course load reduction from 64 to 48 credits (one semester of study) in recognition of coursework taken at the other school. Students must still complete all of the MA graduation requirements within these 48 credits.

All MA students pursue a concentration in International Economics.

Students must complete 4 courses within this program.

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)

Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Those who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term only need to complete three additional economics courses for credit, allowing more room for electives. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. 

In order to matriculate into the MA program, students must show successful completion of principles of microeconomic and principles of macroeconomic, or a combined introductory course, with a grade of B- or better at from accredited university or college. The course(s) must be taken for credit with a letter grade and cannot be taken pass/fail. The school also offers its own course titled Online Principles of Economics (OPE) to meet this requirement. This online course is offered to all prospective students in the fall and spring terms and to accepted entering students the summer prior to matriculation.

All MA students pursue a second concentration in either an International Policy Area or a Region of the World.

International Policy Areas:

  • American Foreign Policy
  • Energy, Resources and Environment
  • International Development
  • International Relations
    • General IR
    • Conflict Management
    • Global Theory and History
    • International Law and Organizations
    • International Political Economy
  • Strategic Studies

Regions of the World:

  • African Studies
  • Asian Studies
    • China Studies
    • Japan Studies
    • Korea Studies
    • South Asia Studies
    • Southeast Asia Studies
  • Canadian Studies
  • European and Eurasian Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Middle East Studies

All MA students must complete one Quantitative Reasoning course.

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics
  • Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)

Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the Statistics waiver exam are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above. Students who pass Statistics in Pre-Term will have met the QR requirement and do not need to take a QR course for credit during the academic year.

All MA students must pass two core courses and/or exams in addition to their concentration requirements.
  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative Politics (Comparative National Systems)
  • Evolution of the International Systems
  • Theories of International Relations

European and Eurasian Studies students must pass three comprehensive exams in lieu of the core courses/exams.

All students must complete a language graduation requirement in one of the languages offered.

MA candidates must meet the langauge graduation requirements in a second language. Students whose native language is not English may use English for this requirement. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for their graduation requirement.

Languages Offered:

  • Arabic
  • Burmese
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi-Urdu
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese

All MA students must complete a capstone in either their International Policy or Regional concentration.

All MA students are required to complete a capstone in order to graduate. This is an integrative project or experience within the non-economics concentration and requires an assessment. It is at the discretion of program directors to determine what constitutes a capstone. Generally, a capstone should be completed in a student’s second year. If students have multiple concentrations in addition to International Economics, they must complete the capstone requirements for all programs. Some programs may choose to allow the MA Oral Exam, to compete for honors, as one of the capstone options.

Capstones may include:

  • Oral exams
  • Written exams
  • Unique courses that requires intensive writing and research or a practicum
  • Research projects
  • The MA Oral Exam to compete for honors


Internships play an integral role in the overall learning experience and provide students with the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge in the field of their choice.

Past internship placements have occurred at the following organizations:
  • US Department of State
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Asian Development Bank Institute
  • Global Business Policy Council

Student Organizations

Student Government Associations in Washington and Bologna and the Class Council in Nanjing offer students a number of ways to stay involved. Organizations include the Finance Club, China Club, International Law Society, SAIS Corps Volunteer Club, SAIS Review, the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs, and many more.


Many of the school's academic programs and research centers host seminar series throughout the academic year. Various topics are explored through lectures and presentations made by a wide array of experts, policymakers and scholars in the field.


Prior to Attending

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. All incoming MA students must complete introductory microeconomics and introductory macroeconomics courses (receiving a grade of B- or higher) prior to enrolling. Completion of these courses is recommended but not required to apply. 

Volunteer positions, internships, and employment all are encouraged. While international experience is strongly recommended, students should be able to show their interest in the field of international relations.

All non-native speakers of English must have proven English competence by submitting a TOEFL, IELTS or, for SAIS Europe, a CPE score (see the Admissions page for more information). The TOEFL/IELTS/CPE exam requirement may be waived for individuals who have done their undergraduate degree in English in a country where English is an official language.

For Non-US Students
Most non-US students enter the United States using either F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor visas–student category. Since a student’s academic career can span several years, we encourage you to keep copies of all immigration-related documents related to your stay. This includes copies of your passport, I-20s, DS-2019s, as well as any applications and correspondence submitted to the government for immigration-related benefits, etc.

All non-European Union citizens at SAIS Europe enter Italy using a student visa. The visa wil be valid for the duration of the academic year.

For Dual Degree Seekers
Students must be admitted separately to each school, satisfying the admissions requirements of both institutions. Students interested in pursuing dual degrees and a two-year program must either apply to the schools simultaneously or be admitted to the second school by the end of their first year at the first school. Students interested in pursuing dual Johns Hopkins SAIS and law degrees must apply simultaneously to each school, apply to the law school before completion of the first year of the Johns Hopkins SAIS degree program or apply to the school before the second year of law study has been completed.

Student Body
Total Students
  • Washington: 675
  • Bologna: 200
  • Nanjing: 180
  • US students: 59%
  • Non-US students: 41%
  • Middle 50% range: 3.43 – 3.80

  • GRE verbal, middle 50% range: 157-165
  • GRE quantitative, middle 50% range: 153-161
  • GMAT verbal, middle 50% range: 34-41
  • GMAT quantitative, middle 50% range: 44-49
  • Middle 50% range: 103 - 115 for IBT
  • International Policy Areas: 66%
  • Regions of the World: 34%
  • Male: 50%
  • Female: 50%

 Work experience
  • 2.2 years


Washington, DC

Office of Admissions
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University

1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036

+1 (202) 663.5700
+1 (877) JHUWASH (US toll free)

SAIS Europe

Office of Admissions
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University

Via Belmeloro, 11
40126 Bologna, Italy


Nanjing, China 

Office of International Admissions
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Room 406
Washington, DC 20036

+1 (202) 663-5800