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School of International Service

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MA in International Communication

Offered by the School of International Service, and founded in 1968 as the first International Communication program in the country, this innovative program provides students with interdisciplinary course offerings and professional skills training, focusing on emergent and vital topics in international communication. The curriculum allows students to explore themes including intercultural relations, cross-cultural communication, international exchange, global technology governance, cultural and public diplomacy, health communication, and global media studies.

Admission to the Program

Students applying for admission to this program must have had a strong undergraduate major or minor in social and behavioral sciences or communication. For further information, contact the International Communication Division at 202-885-1621.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least a B+ (3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale) and should have had at least 24 credit hours of social science coursework relevant to international studies. Students who do not meet these minimum requirements, if otherwise admissible, may be assigned additional coursework in excess of degree requirements specified at the time of admission.

The application deadline for fall admission is January 15; for spring admission October 1 (September 15 for international students). Admitted students may defer matriculation for no longer than two semesters provided that a written request for deferment is submitted to and approved by the SIS Graduate Admissions Office.

All applicants whose native language is English or those whose degrees are from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English are required to submit results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Non-native English speakers are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a U.S.-accredited institution before enrollment at SIS. The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 100 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 600 on the paper-based test (PBT). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Fall applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December to ensure full consideration of the application by the January deadline.

All applicants must submit two letters of reference evaluating undergraduate academic performance and suitability for graduate study in international affairs, at least one of which should be from an academic source. A resume should be included in the application. Applicants must submit transcripts from all institutions attended. Cultural factors are considered in evaluating transcripts and examination results.

Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions to be applied to a master's degree must be completed in the student's first semester in the graduate program at American University. A minimum grade of B in each course is required for transfer. Transfer courses must have been completed within five years of admission and must fulfill stated requirements of the degree program.

Degree Requirements

  • 39 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, including a minimum of 6 credit hours in the core including one theory course, 18 credit hours in a concentration selected from offerings in SIS or other teaching units of the university, 6 credit hours in research methods, 3 credit hours in economics, 3 elective credit hours, and a 3 credit hour capstone experience.
  • One oral presentation at the International Communication Practicum Forum.
  • Capstone experience: demonstration of critical thinking, research and writing skills through completion of a master's thesis, substantial research paper requirement, or practicum. All courses taken to fulfill this requirement must be passed with a grade of B or better.
    • Thesis: 6 credit hours of thesis credit and submission of the thesis.
    • Substantial research paper requirement: 3 credit hours
    • Practicum: 3 credit hours
  • Proficiency in a modern foreign language:
    • Research competence in English and another language relevant to the student's career objectives must be certified.

Course Requirements

Core (6 credit hours)

Economics (3 credit hours)

Social Science Research Methodology (6 credit hours)

Concentration (18 credit hours)

  • 18 credit hours in courses approved by the student's faculty advisor selected from one concentration. Students may design their own concentration with the approval of the faculty advisor. Examples of concentrations include:

Global and Social Media, Technology, and Policy Global Health Communication Intercultural Relations Public DiplomacyTransnational Education

Capstone Experience (3 credit hours)

Note: The thesis or substantial research paper must relate to the field of International Communication.

Elective (3 credit hours)

  • 3 credit hours selected from skills workshops, internship for credit, master's thesis requirement, or other elective courses

A dual master's degree program is offered by the School of International Service and Kogod School of Business.

Admission to the Program

Applications are submitted to both SIS and Kogod. Students must be admitted separately to each program. While students are encouraged to apply for admission to both programs simultaneously, students can apply to the second program after admission and matriculation in the first program. Students must be admitted to the second program and begin their studies prior to conferral of the degree from the first program.

The full-time MBA is a cohorted two-year program. During the first year of the MBA students complete 26 or 29 credit hours in Kogod, and during the second year of the MBA students, including the MBA capstone in the spring semester. Sequencing and timing of SIS coursework depends on the chosen program. Generally, dual degree students begin their academic programs at Kogod, but this is not required. The dual degree between SIS and Kogod may not be completed in conjunction with any other dual degrees at AU.

SIS Degree Requirements

  • Dual degree students may count up to 9 credit hours from their Kogod degree requirements toward their SIS degree requirements with approval of the SIS program director. This typically includes the 6 credit hour methodology requirement and the 3 credit hour elective. Students must otherwise complete all requirements as listed for the SIS graduate degree. The SIS MA degrees are built around a multidisciplinary curriculum focused on preparing students for a wide variety of careers in global service, including public, private, and non-profit semesters. MA/MBA students can specialize in areas at SIS that include international development, security,  global governance, conflict resolution, global environmental policy, regional studies, U.S. foreign policy, and public diplomacy. Students select a specialized concentration that allows them to tailor their studies to their individual interests. See relevant SIS degree requirements for more information.

MBA Degree Requirements

  • 32 credit hours of approved graduate coursework that includes required business core courses, capstone course, and an electives course.
  • Capstone experience: KSB-613 Strategic Decision Making.
  • All students are required to participate in the full-time MBA orientation prior to the start of the program.
  • The MBA degree will be conferred no earlier than the semester in which the SIS graduate degree is completed.

Course Requirements


  • Prerequisite knowledge in economics

Pre-Program Preparation (Noncredit)

Professional Skills (Noncredit)

Capstone (3 credit hours)

Elective (3 credit hours)

  • 3 credit hours in a business course