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Department of World Languages & International Studies


The Master of Arts degree in International Studies

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in International Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to provide a broad foundation for analytical thinking and problem solving regarding international issues, cultural and policy analysis, and global governance.

This interdisciplinary program prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of a global world by providing them with the appropriate knowledge, tools, and skills to understand, function, and work effectively and collaboratively in an increasingly interdependent and multinational world.

The M.A. in International Studies is recognized both within and outside of the academy as an appropriate advanced degree for those pursuing further academic study or planning careers in many of the international aspects of contemporary society including culture analysis, politics, health and nutrition, business, art, architecture, engineering, communications, and environmental studies.

International Studies Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete degree requirements successfully according to the following procedures:

Level One: Successful completion of graduate course work.

Program of Study

Because of the interdisciplinary focus of the International Studies programs, many of the courses in which students enroll, particularly in their area(s) of concentration, will depend on the students' areas of interest and the schedule of courses in the department or school offering the courses. In general students admitted to the International Studies program can expect to enroll in the following:

Core Requirements: 15 credits

  • INST 501: Theories of International Relations
  • ENGL 581: Advanced Expository Writing
  • INST 603: Research Methods
  • SOCI 531: Seminar in Social Deprivation
  • HIST 680: Historical Origins of Contemporary Problems

Concentrations: 12 credits

There are two modes of concentration, topical and geographic.  Depending on areas of interest and the schedule of courses, students may elect to concentrate on topics in:

  • International Public Health and the Environment
  • International Business and Economics
  • International Social and Historical Thought
  • International Language and Culture
  • International Politics and Foreign Policy
  • International Engineering and Technology

Depending on their areas of interest and the schedule of courses, students may elect to focus on global or regional geographic areas in:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • The Middle East
  • The Caribbean
  • North America

Students are encouraged to meet with Dr. Joanna Crosby, the graduate coordinator in the International Studies program, to discuss the selection of courses in their areas of concentration.

Electives: 6 credits

Consistent with the interdisciplinary focus of the International Studies program, students are encouraged to select courses from across the curricula of graduate programs in order to enhance their breadth and depth of under-standing of issues in their concentration and in international studies. For example, students may elect to satisfy their six credits of electives in a Fulbright or other study abroad program.

Level Two: Successful completion of the Department Graduate Comprehensive Exam and Foreign Language Proficiency Exam.

Successful completion of the Department Graduate Comprehensive Examination.

The comprehensive examinations are intended to test students' familiarity with, and critical understanding of, the broad range of ideas and literature that the disciplinary fields comprise. Students prepare for examinations by taking different combinations of courses according to the specific field guidelines presented below and in consultation with faculty advisors. Graduate students who do not successfully pass all areas of the graduate comprehensive examination are required to retake, by the following semester, only those areas failed. Students who do not retake the exam the following semester are subject to taking the entire examination. The comprehensive examination includes all core courses, exclusive of ENGL 581, one regional course, and one course in the student's area of concentration.

Comprehensive exams are offered each semester, usually during a four-hour period on a Saturday morning. Students will be informed of the date via email.

Language Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. Please contact the department for more information regarding what counts as a demonstration of proficiency.

Level Three: Exit Options: Thesis, Study Abroad, Internship, etc.

Exit Options

There are four possible exit options for the International Studies Masters program, thesis, internship and public policy paper, six additional credits and reseach paper, or study/research abroad and research paper.  Students must declare, in writing, to both the Chair and Graduate Coordinator which exit option they choose prior to the end of their fourth semester of coursework. An Exit Option Declaration form is available in the Department of International Studies office.

Options include the following:

1.  Thesis:
Students must have finished all course work before beginning the thesis. In most cases, students will be expected to have taken his or her comprehensive exams prior to beginning the thesis. Students must work with the Department Chair and the Graduate Coordinator to identify an Advisor (from the Department of International Studies, or in area of concentration, with the approval of the Chair for the latter).

Students are required to select a thesis committee consisting of the director and two readers. However, one reader can be an external committee member from another department. All committee members must be full-time faculty.  Students must identify two or three additional readers for the thesis. Readers should have some expertise in either the field of study or concentration. Readers are subject to approval by the Chair or Graduate Coordinator.

Students must submit a Thesis Proposal for approval by the Advisor, Chair, and Graduate Coordinator. Students will meet with the Advisor at intervals agreed upon with the Advisor. Advisor will supervise a student's progress towards completion of the thesis. A student will defend her or his thesis in front of the entire committee, composed of Advisor and Readers. The Chair and Graduate Coordinator, if not on the committee, may also be present. 

2.  Internship and a Public Policy Research Paper.
Student must have finished all course work before beginning internship. Internship agency/site must be relevant to the field of study and concentration and will require approval by the department (Chair and Graduate Coordinator). Student will be expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week over 15 weeks. Student duties and responsibilities:

  • Enrolling in INST 780, Advanced Internship.
  • Work with the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator to identify an Adviser (from the Department of International Studies, or in area of concentration, with the approval of the Chair). The adviser must sign the Exit Option Declaration form, available in the INST office.
  • Submitting bi-weekly reports to adviser during the internship period. Student will meet with adviser to evaluate reports at intervals agreed upon with the Advisor.
  • Submitting a paper proposal, including selected bibliographical entries, to Adviser, Chair, and Graduate Coordinator for approval before beginning work on the public policy research paper.
  • Writing a public policy paper of at least 50 pages in length, exclusive of bibliography.
  • Receiving a grade of B or better from advisor for the public policy paper. In the case of a dispute, the paper will be reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator and, as necessary, the Chair. 

3.  Six Additional Credits and Research Paper.
Students chosing this option have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • One three credit course in INST, not being used to satisfy any other requirement.
  • One three credit course in area of concentration or field of study, not being used to satisfy any other re-quirement.

Substitutions for the above two courses are possible with the approval of the Chair and Graduate Coordinator.

  • Work with the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator to identify an Adviser (from the De-partment of International Studies, or in area of concentration, with the approval of the Chair for the latter). The adviser must sign the Exit Option Declaration form, available in the INST office.
  • Submitting a paper proposal, including selected bibliographical entries, for approval to Adviser, Chair, and Graduate Coordinator before beginning work on the research paper.
  • Writing a research paper of at least 50 pages in length, exclusive of bibliography.
  • Receiving a grade of B or better from advisor for the research paper. In the case of a dispute, the paper will be reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator and, as necessary, by the Chair. 

4.  Study/Research Abroad and Research Paper
Students choosing this option have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Student must gain approval of the proposed study/research abroad program from the Chair and Graduate Coordinator by writing a proposal detailing the objectives and outcomes of the project. 
  • Student must spend at least one semester (minimum 12 weeks) abroad participating in an accredited program approved by the Chair and Graduate Coordinator.
  • Student should choose an area where he or she speaks the language, or explain in writing how not knowing the language will not impair ability to study or conduct research in the chosen country.
  • Work with the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator to identify an Adviser (from the Department of International Studies, or in area of concentration, with the approval of the Chair for the latter). The adviser must sign the Exit Option Declaration form, available in the INST office.
  • Submitting regular reports during the period abroad to Graduate Coordinator and Advisor by email or alternative method, identified as necessary.
  • Submitting a paper proposal, including selected bibliographical entries, to Adviser, Chair, and Graduate Coordinator for approval before beginning work on the research paper.
  • Writing a research paper of at least 50 pages in length, exclusive of bibliography.
  • Receiving a grade of B or better from advisor for the research paper. In the case of a dispute, the paper will be reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator and, as needed, by the Chair.

General Requirements

Students are required to complete thirty-three (33) credit hours of course work, successfully pass a comprehensive examination, and fulfill one of the exit options listed below. All exit options include a substantial writing project. Thesis guidance credits (i.e., INST 797) shall not be included as part of the 33 credits needed to satisfy degree requirements. The distribution of the 33 credits is listed below:

  • Core Courses: 15 credits
  • Program Concentration: 12 credits
  • Electives: 6 credits
  • Total Requirements: 33 credits