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Program Requirements
for a
Master of Arts Degree in International Studies

1. Required Proficiencies:

The first three requirements listed below are proficiency requirements; students who demonstrate sufficient background in these areas will be deemed to have satisfied the requirements. Those without sufficient prior coursework in these areas must take these courses while completing the degree.

• Language Requirement:
Students must reach a proficiency equivalent to the completion of
3rd year level in either Japanese or Chinese,
OR a proficiency equivalent to completion of the 2nd year level in any other modern foreign language.

• Economics Requirement:
Students must complete intermediate level economics. Among the courses that can be taken to fulfill this requirement are ECON 300 and ECON 301. This requirement is waived if taken prior to entering the program or as a component of a concurrent professional degree program.

• Statistical Analysis:
Students must take one statistics course for the social sciences. This requirement is waived if taken prior to entering the program or as a component of a concurrent professional degree program.

2. Required Core Courses (21 credits):


In the first year, students are required to take the following courses:

Autumn Quarter:

JSIS 500—International Studies Survey 5 credits

Survey of historical and contemporary international political, economic, social and cultural systems that have ordered and reordered places, communities, and individuals around the world. Simultaneously, the course addresses countervailing forces emergent from individuals, communities, organizations and places that have resisted and exerted influence in attempts to define belonging and ensure human well-being. Students in JSIS 500 are required to also attend JSIS 200.

Winter Quarter:

JSIS 501—Comparative Studies 5 credits

This course will focus on comparison across geographical areas, including comparative political economy, comparative cultures, and comparative institutions. It will provide students with a familiarity with comparative methods of inquiry, an understanding of the interplay between area studies and cross-regional theories, and skills in conducting comparative research and writing. Students in JSIS 501 are required to attend JSIS 201.

Spring Quarter:

JSIS 511—Research Methods in International Studies 5 credits

The course will cover basic principles of research design, expose students to excellent examples of basic research within international studies as practiced in the social sciences from case studies to large n designs, and prepare students for conducting their own independent research project. Students will be expected to complete short assignments throughout the quarter, develop critical methodologically focused, commenting skills on research articles, and produce a research proposal for their thesis or one of their empirical research papers.

Each Quarter (first and second years):

JSIS 591-592-593 International Studies Research Pro-Seminar 1 credit each

Offered every quarter to enhance MA student knowledge of the international studies field, to foster research collaborations among students and faculty, and to socialize students to develop writing, research, and presentation skills.

3. Focus Requirements (18 credits):


Students are required to complete two of the following three foci, with a minimum of 9 credits and 3 classes in each focus. The courses in these foci are selected from among those offered by the Jackson School, social science departments, or professional schools. All courses should be at the 400 level or above and must be approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator. Students who are pursuing a concurrent degree will automatically choose the Professional Focus as one of their specializations. A maximum of 3 courses from professional schools can be counted towards satisfying focus requirements. 

  • Regional  Focus
    Students may focus on Africa; Comparative Religion; East Asia; Latin America; the Middle East; Russia, East Europe and Central Asia; South Asia, Southeast Asia; Western Europe
  • I.S.Field Focus
    Students may focus on one of four themes: 1. States, Markets and Society;
    2. Governance, Law and Rights; 3. Culture and Religion; 4. Peace and Security
  • Professional Focus
    This Focus consists of courses offered by a professional school that deal with the international and comparative dimensions of the profession. Students pursuing a concurrent professional degree can count 9-12 of these credits concurrently for both the MAIS degree and their professional degree.

4. Final Paper(s) and Oral Exam:

In the first month of their final year, students establish their Supervisory Committee by completing the Supervisory Committee Form.

The main purpose of the Supervisory Committee is to advise students in the final stages of their program. The members serve as the student’s consultants in writing the research papers or thesis and as examiners.

Students will be required to demonstrate a significant written research product. This could be a master’s thesis. Alternatively, students can write two research papers both demonstrating original research. However, one must be an original empirical analysis. Or, students can write a policy task force report for a client identified by the student with faculty advice and oversight. Students who write a task force report would also be required to submit an additional research paper to receive credit for the written product component of the degree. To ensure timely submission and quality products, students are required to schedule at least two meetings with their full committee prior to the oral exam. These meetings will each take place in the two quarters prior to the student's final oral exam. During the first of these two meetings the student will present a proposed research plan, outlining each paper or the thesis. During the second meeting, the student will present a working draft of the two papers or thesis. Students will be required to provide documentation that these meetings have been scheduled and took place with the GPC and Graduate Program Assistant.

The oral examination is based on the thesis or two research papers, but also can range broadly across the field of International Studies.

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