Flexibility for your degree

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a policy career in the public, nonprofit, or private sector, CRS offers students the flexibility to design a degree that matches their unique career goals. The program encompasses multiple regional and thematic concentrations, hands-on experiential learning, and a hybrid-degree path that enables students to spend up to a year abroad, allowing students to customize their academic experiences.

CRS students select both a regional concentration and thematic concentration within the master’s degree that aligns with their career interests. Students can also build on their curriculum with intensive Skills Institutes and a career-oriented Practicum.

Degree Options

In addition to the standard master's degree, you can earn a dual master's degree through our partnership at AU.

The International Affairs: Comparative and Regional Studies degree is unique for its concentrated focus on regional studies, which provides students a deep understanding of local context and an understanding of how and why local contexts shape outcomes of global interest. Regional studies serve as laboratories for knowledge, allowing students to draw lessons from experiences within the region to inform their understanding of the successes or challenges different policies, programs, and institutional reforms of that region are likely to face.

In addition to the standard master's degree, SIS offers a dual master's degree programs with both the Korea University's Graduate School of International Studies (KUGSIS) and the Graduate School of International Relations (GSIR) at Ritsumeikan University (RU).

The School of International Service (SIS) offers a dual master's degree program with Kogod School of Business, giving students the opportunity to acquire expertise in both regional studies and business. Graduates will receive an MA through SIS and an MBA through Kogod.

Generally, dual degree students will spend their first year taking core curriculum courses at Kogod, then spend their second and third years taking courses at both SIS and Kogod. Students must complete 31 credit hours at Kogod and 39-42 credit hours at SIS, with the option to count up to 9 credit hours from Kogod degree requirements towards SIS degree requirements.

Prospective MA/MBA students must separately apply to and be accepted by each school. The admissions committees from each school do not collaborate on the decision-making process.

View Kogod School of Business dual degree admissions requirements and MBA coursework.

Concentrations

CRS students must select both a regional concentration and thematic concentration. Students can choose from one of six regional concentration options. Below are samples of the courses you can take by concentration area.

Regional

Covering North Africa and states south of the Sahara, this concentration has four broad themes: state, society, economy, and international affairs. African states have grappled with the need for effective institutions, responsive political processes, and accountable leadership. The problems of autocracy and difficulties of democratic development are acute. The course offerings on the nature of African societies pose important questions, such as the context of governance, the roles of civil society, and ethnic and communal diversity.

  • SIS 619 Conflict in Africa
  • SIS 619 Peacebuilding in Africa
  • SIS 676 Political Economy of Africa

The Americas includes the 35 independent states and other overseas territories in North America, South America, and the Caribbean. The course offerings on the historical and growing interconnectedness of the countries of the Americas explore the evolution of United States-Latin American relations and domestic politics in the region. More topical courses address issues such as the historical genesis of race relations and their impact today, the evolution of the Cold War and its impact on the region, the transnationalization of the War on Drugs, and the impact of neoliberal economic policies. 

  • SIS 676 Contemporary Latin America
  • SIS 676 Government and Development in Latin America
  • SIS 619 Latin America Political Economy

The Asia-Pacific region covers approximately 25 countries and all major sub-regions, including East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. By examining Asia as a broad geographic region centered around the Pacific and Indian Oceans, students engage with an array of issues including democratization, migration and trafficking, human rights, regional governance, international security, and power relations. The course offerings focus on the foreign policy of major actors within Asia-Pacific, including China, Japan, Korea, and the United States, as well as governance and security issues within Asia. 

  • SIS 676 Japan, China, the United States, and East Asia
  • SIS 676 North Korea and International Security
  • SIS 676 Southeast Asia, US, and Regional Powers

The Europe and Eurasia regional focus extends the traditional focus on Western Europe and the EU eastward by including the blend of European and Asian cultures that has shaped the development of Russia and Central Eurasia. This dynamic world region includes Turkey, Russia, and other post-Soviet countries that form the eastern borderlands of Europe. The course offerings in this region focus on the persistence of historical tensions between authoritarian and democratic political cultures, the diversity of ethnic and other identities in the region, and the interconnectedness of Europe and Eurasia in policy areas such as energy, security, and immigration. 

  • SIS 676 Integration and Disintegration in Europe
  • SIS 619 Nationalism and Identity
  • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy Toward Russia

Islamic Studies promotes understanding of Islam and the Muslim community in the United States and throughout the world. The concentration fosters an understanding of Islam through courses, events, invited speakers, and other education efforts that involve scholars, public officials, students, and religious leaders of all denominations. Our Islamic scholars have conducted groundbreaking field projects accompanied by American University students.

  • SIS 676 Bridging the Great Divide
  • SIS 676 Contemporary Islamist Movements
  • SIS 619 Islam and Democracy

The Middle East focus covers a range of countries extending from Morocco to Iran and includes the sub-regions of North Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Peninsula. This concentration highlights the complex relationships between religion, society, and the state in the region. Courses address processes of democratization and peace-building; the cultural, religious, and ethnic identities of the region; and intra-regional conflicts, including the involvement of the superpowers in these conflicts.

  • SIS 676 Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
  • SIS 619 Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East
  • SIS 619 US-Iran Conflict and Reconciliation

Thematic

Examine the interrelated topics of traditional interstate security, transnational crime and terrorism, human security challenges, and US foreign policy. Students will carve out a specialization in one of these issues or explore US foreign policy concerns more broadly.

  • SIS 619 Cyber Warfare, Terrorism, Espionage, and Crime
  • SIS 619 Insurgency and Counterinsurgency
  • SIS 619 Migration and Security
  • SIS 619 Security and Insecurity
  • SIS 619 US-Iran Conflict and Reconciliation
  • SIS 653 National Security and Proliferation
  • SIS 653 Public Diplomacy
  • SIS 653 Transatlantic Security
  • SIS 653 US Policy Toward South Asia
  • SIS 653 US-Russia Post-Cold War Relations

Examine local and global economic forces that have political and social outcomes. Gain a greater understanding of the linkages between the economic and political spheres by studying issues of finance, monetary policy, trade, and development.

  • SIS 619 Business Diplomacy
  • SIS 619 Economics of Violence and Peace
  • SIS 619 Latin America Political Economy
  • SIS 620 Introduction to Environmental Economics
  • SIS 620 Political Economy of Food and Agriculture
  • SIS 627 International Finance and Emerging Markets 
  • SIS 630 Economic Policies in the European Union
  • SIS 647 Governance, Democracy, and Development
  • SIS 651 International Political Economy
  • SIS 652 Global Economic Governance

Examine forms of governance at the transnational, national, and sub-national level. Students will study political regime types, contemporary challenges in governance, and how political institutions may be subverted.

  • SIS 619 Democracy and Political Change in Middle East
  • SIS 619 EU and Global Governance
  • SIS 619 Governance, Development, and Corruption
  • SIS 619 International Law and Global Order
  • SIS 620 Water Governance
  • SIS 625 International Organizations
  • SIS 647 Governance, Democracy, and Development
  • SIS 676 African Political Institutions
  • SIS 676 Contemporary Southeast Asia: Governance, Development, and Security

Examine the social and psychological motivations of political conflict and conflict resolution. National, ethnic, religious, gender, and other identities serve both to bind individuals into groups and to differentiate groups from one another. Claims based on identity are central to contemporary international politics.

  • SIS 619 Gender and Conflict
  • SIS 619 Human Security
  • SIS 619 Ethnic Conflict and Nationalism
  • SIS 619 Nationalism and Identity
  • SIS 619 Peacebuilding in Divided Societies
  • SIS 676 Oil, Islam, and Politics in the Gulf
  • SIS 676 Bridging the Great Divide
  • SIS 676 Race and Ethnicity in Europe
  • SIS 676 Race and Ethnicity in the Americas
  • SIS 676 Integration and Disintegration in Europe

Examine the historical and contemporary cases of social and political upheaval, as well as the importance of activism, organization, and issue-linkage in bringing about political change. A major focus of this issue area is state responses to organized activism and protest, including the human rights abuses and repression that often precede the outbreak of intrastate conflicts.

  • SIS 606 Culture, Peace, and Conflict Resolution: Alternatives to Violence
  • SIS 619 Conflict in Africa
  • SIS 619 Ethnic Conflict and Nationalism
  • SIS 619 Understanding Conflict in Syria and Iraq
  • SIS 619 US-Iran Conflict and Reconciliation
  • SIS 619 Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East  
  • SIS 653 Evolution of US Human Rights Policy
  • SIS 676 Chinese Politics and Society
  • SIS 676 Democratic Decay and Authoritarianism in the West
  • SIS 676 Contemporary Islamist Movements

Examine the connections linking individuals, communities, and regions in an increasingly globalized world. Students may choose to focus on a single transnational issue, such as migration or global public health, or to explore a variety of contemporary issues related to globalization.

  • SIS 619 Refugees, Migration, and Trafficking
  • SIS 619 Transnational Crime and Terrorism
  • SIS 619 Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East
  • SIS 620 Political Ecology of Food and Agriculture
  • SIS 635 Social Accountability
  • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy Toward Illicit Networks
  • SIS 660 Environment and Politics
  • SIS 676 Narcotrafficking in Mexico
  • SIS 676 Comparative Social Movements
  • SIS 676 North Korea and International Security

Capstone

All CRS students complete a student research requirement for their capstone. Students can choose from three different options to fulfill their capstone.

The practicum is a semester-long research project conducted in partnership with a professional organization active in the environmental field. Practicum research teams are made up of six to eight students who work with a faculty supervisor and an organizational partner. Students develop the focus of the research in consultation with the partner, design and execute the work, and write a publication-quality report. Some projects are conducted locally, while others involve international research and/or travel.

The Master's Thesis is an original research project appropriate for students looking to complete a longer and more academically rigorous research paper. It is similar to the Substantial Research Paper, but will completed over the course of one year.

The Substantial Research Paper (SRP) is an independent research project intended to integrate and apply knowledge from the field to a final scholarly project. The SRP culminates in a 50- to 60-page report that defines a question, applies one or more specific research methods to the question, develops findings, and discusses their implications and significance. Completed during your final semester in the program, the SRP is conducted under the supervision of a CRS faculty member.

Application            At a Glance

View a detailed admission and degree requirements listing for your degree of interest.

Entrance Semester
Fall and Spring
Application Deadline
January 15 for the fall semester
October 1 for the spring semester (September 15 for international applicants)
Additional Requirements
Undergraduate degree
GRE score, or TOEFL/IELTS score if non-native English speaker
Two letters of recommendation
Resume
Application
Completion of online application