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IR Online Immersion

This page contains information about the on-campus Immersion. General information (e.g. cost, registration) can be found in the top section of this page, information specific to upcoming Immersions (courses, agenda, etc.) can be found in the section below. Check out this helpful graphic for help figuring out which Immersion course to sign up for.

General Immersion Information

What is the Immersion? 
That depends on your graduate program.

If you are a student in either the on-campus or online MIS program
, the Immersion is a required on-campus component of the 15-week hybrid Executive Leadership course.

The Executive Leadership course is a required three-credit course for Master of International Service (MIS) degree candidates. The beginning of the course takes place over three full days on campus. The rest of the course meets online in weekly, 80-minute live sessions. The course incorporates lessons in decision-making, ethical leadership, strategic communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, leading multi-cultural workforces, and change and crisis management. Students who take this course will have an opportunity to gain insight on their leadership strengths, challenges that may be impeding their effectiveness, and ways of creating leadership impact.

MIS students who have fulfilled their Executive Leadership requirement, are eligible to take Immersion skills institutes with MAIR students. Please contact your Academic Advisor to discuss this option. 

If you are a student in the MAIR online program, the Immersion is an on-campus skills institute required for your graduate degree.

Each semester, the IR Online program offers both on-campus and online skills institutes, which are worth one elective credit each, are pass/fail, span one or two immersive weekends, and cover topics like Multinational Negotiation, Data Visualization, and Program Budgeting. When these skills institutes take place on-campus, they are part of the “on-campus Immersion program” which is a package program and includes career development opportunities, faculty dinners, and group outings. When they are online, they take place entirely via live session and require no additional on-campus component.

Most MAIR students fulfill 3 of their 6 required elective credits by taking one on-campus Immersion and two one-credit online skills institutes.

How do I register for these courses?
Information about skills institute topics and dates is released with the list of standard 15-week courses in the registration email each semester. Students can sign up for both online skills institutes and on-campus Immersion skills institutes through the portal themselves. Those who register for the Immersion will be asked to complete a separate Google survey to provide information such as parking needs and dietary restrictions. An advanced deadline is set for the Immersion each year (e.g. August 11, 2017 for the Fall 2017 Immersion), after which late adds and withdrawals may carry academic and financial implications. 

Does the program cost extra?
Yes, fees vary for students in the MIS and MAIR programs. Students seeking to utilize financial aid or veterans benefits to cover the cost of summer tuition are encouraged to contact Katherine Buster ( in Financial Aid or Val Verra ( in our Veterans Affairs office to learn more about program fee implications. 

When is my next opportunity to register?
The Immersion program is offered every summer and fall semester. Students attending the summer Immersion are eligible to participate in the Immersion Career Panel Program. This career event is designed to facilitate career exploration and networking specifically for MAIR and MIS students. Following the panel, students will have the opportunity to connect with professionals from the other panels/industry areas. Career Panel information and registration instructions will be sent with the summer Immersion emails.

Students attending the fall Immersion are eligible to participate in the SIS Site Visit Program. The SIS Site Visit Program is an annual career event designed to facilitate career exploration and networking for the school's graduate students. Site Visit information and registration instructions are sent separate from the fall Immersion emails.

Fall 2017 Immersion Details

This section offers information specific to the Summer 2017 Immersion, taking place August 24-27, 2017 in Washington DC. Students should register for their selected Immersion course through the Portal by Friday, August 11, 2017 at 11:59pm EDT. Requests and changes made after the August 11 deadline may have financial and academic implications. If you can't make the Fall 2017 Immersion, the next opportunity will take place next summer semester in April 2018.

Course Descriptions

Policy Briefing (MAIR): This course gives students the tools and confidence to handle a briefing at any level in the policy world with a combination of presentations and group discussion on the art of proper preparation, real-life examples of policy briefings, and challenging practical exercises. Students learn how to develop and present a relevant, tailored, and effective briefing by crafting the briefing to account for the policymaker's level of knowledge, biases, and needs; understanding an issue's place in the policy process and how that impacts the presentation; utilizing graphics to make the complex easy to understand; writing talking points to guide the briefing; being flexible; and dealing with demanding or hostile audiences.

Multinational Negotiation (MAIR): Professional communication and multinational negotiation - whether in the corporate or public sector - is all about solving problems. In this immersion, you'll learn multinational negotiation strategies and techniques to address an array of challenging situations, many of them involving ethical dilemmas. Along the way, you'll practice and sharpen your writing, speaking, and presentation skills. You'll work in teams to tackle negotiation crises. You'll discover that knowing how to communicate well and think strategically will propel you in both the academic and professional worlds.

Developing Leadership in a Changing World (MAIR): TBD

Executive Leadership (MIS): Executive Leadership is a required 3 credit course for Master of International Service (MIS) degree candidates. In an interactive class, students will discuss decision-making, ethical leadership, strategic communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, leading multi-cultural workforces, and change and crisis management. They will have an opportunity to gain insight on their leadership strengths, challenges that may be impeding their effectiveness, and ways of creating leadership impact.

Faculty Profiles

Ray Leki is an adjunct professorial lecturer for SIS's Intercultural Management Institute, a career member of the Senior Executive Service of the United States, the Director of the Transition Center at the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute, and the author of Travel Wise: How to Be Safe, Savvy and Secure Abroad.

Craig Schmall is an adjunct instructor at American University and an Intelligence Officer at the CIA. Prior to joining his position as instructor, he served as an Armor Officer for the U.S. Army. Craig holds a BA in International Relations from American University's School of International Service and an MA in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Louisville.

Nancy Sachs (Executive Leadership) teaches in SIS's graduate program in social enterprise and its online master's program in international relations. She has taught leadership, ethics, and communication at American University's Kogod School of Business as well as at Georgetown University Law Center, Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Peking University's School of Transnational Law, and Australian National University. She has more than 25 years of professional experience in the public and private sectors. In her work for the federal government, she developed award-winning public policy campaigns, many in conjunction with Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profit organizations. She also has worked as a news producer for public television, founded her own publishing small business, and conducted fieldwork in the Middle East. Professor Sachs began teaching at American University in 2005 and has received an award for outstanding teaching.

Site Visit Program

Immersion participants are also invited to participate in the School of International Service's 2017 Site Visit Program on Friday, August 25. The Site Visit Program is a day-long career exploration and networking event in which 35+ employers host on-site information sessions for SIS graduate students. Throughout the day, participants will travel with a group of online and on-campus peers to the D.C. offices of three different employers working in a specific field or sector. These visits often include a short tour of the office, an overview of the organization's mission and services, and a panel discussion with employees. More information about the event will be sent to your AU email address on Wednesday, July 12. Registration opens for Immersion participants on Monday, July 24. Please contact Shaine Melnick at with questions.

Sample Immersion Agenda*

Wednesday, August 23rd

Welcome Happy Hour for MIS locals and Early Arrivals (not required)

Thursday, August 24th

Check in and breakfast (MIS)
Executive Leadership (MIS)
Lunch (MIS)
Executive Leadership (MIS)
Welcome Happy Hour for MAIR locals and Early Arrivals (not required)
Executive Leadership dinner (MIS only)

Friday, August 25th

Arrival, MAIR Check-In
Depart for Site Visits
Return to AU campus
On-campus Dinner with Faculty, Staff, and Alumni

Saturday, August 26th

Breakfast and Coffee
Programmatic Dinner with students, faculty, staff, and SIS leadership

Sunday, August 27th

Breakfast and Coffee
Lunch (grab-and-go) and Closing Remarks

*tentative schedule subject to change