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General International Relations allows you to choose from among all of the courses offered in four programs in the overall field of International Relations, in addition to selected other Policy Areas at the school. You may take any course offered in Conflict Management; Global Theory and History; and International Law and Organizations, in addition to courses in Energy, Resources and Environment and Strategic Studies. General International Relations offers you the largest selection of courses in the school.
Second, in General International Relations you have the most flexible requirements.  The only requirement is to take at least one course in at least three International Relations programs or selected Policy Areas, for a total of six courses.  Likewise you have total flexibility in terms of the language you decide to use to meet your foreign language requirement.
This flexibility enables you to choose a set of courses that meet your own personal career goals and interests.  You can tailor your course selection to your own personal needs and preferences.
The only other requirement is to pass the Theories of International Relations exam either by taking the course SA.100.761 Theories of International Relations, or by auditing the course, or by studying on your own.  The Theories of International Relations exam is offered twice annually, once in each semester.   There is no penalty for retaking the exam.  By studying on your own you will free up a course to be used elsewhere as an elective toward the 16 course (64 credit) graduation requirement for an MA degree.
Students may choose to concentrate in General International Relations or may choose one of the following four programs under International Relations:
Conflict Management [3]: The Conflict Management Program focuses on mechanisms for handling international conflict and developing cooperation. The program presents various theoretical approaches to negotiation, examines policies and processes in managing crises and conflicts and explores the formation and use of international organizations and regimes. Courses offer an opportunity to pursue case studies and simulations.
Global Theory and History [4]: The Global Theory and History Program examines continuity and change in the formation and maturation of territorially focused relations, along with transnational forces and ideologies. The program includes the interplay of political economy, diplomatic and military strategies and cultural civilizations.
International Law and Organizations [5]: The International Law and Organizations Program seeks to provide a working knowledge of the principles of international law, including in the use of military force, arms control, international human rights, the environment, investment and trade. The political and legal nature of international organizations is also addressed, including that of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the many structures that respond to civil war conflicts and their aftermath. International law should be of interest to students specializing in security studies, international investing and regional studies, as well as those who wish to understand a distinctive mode of thought.

International Political Economy [6]: International Political Economy provides an understanding of the intersection between international politics and economics. It focuses on the effects of politics on economic policy at the state, national, and international levels. Students will be exposed to a multidisciplinary curriculum that allows them to analyze their findings through a theoretical approach.
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General International Relations | MA Requirements

General International Relations Program Learning Goals and Objectives [19]

Entering Class 2017-2018

MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate.  Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.


General International Relations (IR)

MA students concentrating in General International Relations (IR) must take at least 6 courses from the IR Areas or approved Policy Areas (ERE and STRAT). All General IR concentrators must take at least 1 course from a minimum of 3 separate areas. These areas include:

IR Areas:

  • Conflict Management
  • Global Theory and History
  • International Law and Organizations
  • International Political Economy

Policy Areas:

  • Energy, Resources and Environment
  • Strategic Studies

General IR students studying at SAIS Europe must take at least 3 IR concentration courses in Washington with the exception of dual-degree or advanced-standing students, who must take at least 2 IR concentration courses in Washington.


International Economics

Students must complete 16 credits. The four required courses are:

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

If a student passes a waiver exam [20] in one of these areas, the student must take a replacement International Economics program course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term [21] will have the concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed). The Pre-Term Microeconomics course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.

Beyond the requirements, many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization [22] in one of four areas of economics. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets [23].

Concentration GPA Requirement
Students must achieve a combined GPA of at least 2.67 in four (or three if Microeconomics is passed in Pre-Term) required International Economics program courses or they must retake the course(s) until a 2.67 concentration GPA is achieved. In the standard case, the concentration GPA will be the average of the grades of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.

If one or more of the four standard courses is waived, the school will use the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics program course(s) to compute the International Economics concentration GPA.


Quantitative Reasoning

Students must complete one course from the list below.

  • 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)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (prerequisite Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as an International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student passes the statistics waiver exam, the student must take an alternate course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Statistical Methods for Business & Economics in Pre-Term [21] will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. The Pre-Term course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.


Core Courses/Exams

All students must pass 2 core courses and/or exams from the subjects below. General IR concentrators must pass Theories of International Relations as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the core course(s) for credit.

  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative Politics
  • Evolution of the International Systems
  • Theories of International Relations

Language Proficiency

MA candidates must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a second language. This language must be offered at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Students whose native language is not English may use English as their proficiency language. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency.



General International Relations concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstones:

  • A twenty-page research paper whose focus and subject matter has been approved by the director.
  • A twenty-page written report that draws conclusions about international relations based on an internship undertaken while at SAIS.
  • Successful completion of the course SA.600.702 Contemporary Theory of International Relations. Note: students must select the paper option (vs. the exam option) to use this course as a capstone.
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible).

Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2016-2017 [24]
Entering Class 2015-2016 [25]
Entering Class 2014-2015 [26]
Enerting Class 2013-2014 [27]
Entering Class 2012-2013 [28]
Entering Class 2011-2012 [29]
Entering Class 2010-2011 [30]
Entering Class 2009-2010 [31]


Contact Us

Charles F. Doran
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations, Director of the Global Theory and History Program
cfdoran@jhu.edu [32]
Nitze 510

Starr Lee
Program Coordinator
starr.lee@jhu.edu [33]
Nitze 509

Address & Phone

International Relations
Nitze Building
1740 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC