International Relations

Public Lecture: Professor Charles Doran

'Is War with China Inevitable?' Bologna Institute for Policy Research" - International Relations Series

Events Calendar
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: 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: 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: 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: 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 (Entering Class 2018-2019)

Learning Goals and Objectives

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.


General International Relations Concentration

MA students concentrating in General International Relations must complete 24 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. Courses from the programs below count toward the General International relations concentration:

  • Conflict Management
  • Energy, Resources and Environment
  • Global Theory and History
  • International Law and Organizations
  • International Political Economy
  • Strategic Studies

All General IR concentrators must take at least one course from at least three different programs.

General IR concentrators studying at SAIS Europe must complete at least 3 concentration courses at SAIS Washington.  General IR concentrators in a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing must complete only 2 concentration courses at SAIS Washington.

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 Contemporary Theory of International Relations (SA.600.702). Note: students must select the paper option to use this course as a capstone.
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible).

International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.


Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

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

If a student is waived from a Quantitative Reasoning course, the student must take a different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economics course in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

For students concentrating in General International Relations, one of the Core requirements must be:

  • Theories of International Relations
This must be completed prior to the start of the third semester.

The second Core requirement may be one of:

  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Comparative Politics
  • Evolution of the International System

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.


Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

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, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.


Electives, Minors and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics or Emerging Markets.


Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2017-2018
Entering Class 2016-2017
Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Enerting Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010


Contact Us

Charles F. Doran
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations, Director of the Global Theory and History Program
Nitze 510

Starr Lee
Senior Academic Program Coordinator
Nitze 503

Address & Phone

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