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SIS Graduates its First Class of International Relations Online Students

IR Online student Emily Ham, SIS/MA '15, spoke at SIS Commencement 2015.

American University’s School of International Service (SIS) celebrated the graduation of its inaugural IR Online cohort on Sunday, May 10. Over the course of their program, the ten graduates were based in countries across the globe including Afghanistan, Belgium, Cambodia, Egypt, and Qatar. Seven of them joined together on American University’s Washington, D.C. campus to participate in graduation ceremonies alongside the School’s more than 600 on-campus graduates.

IR Online launched in May 2013, making SIS the first top-ten ranked school of international affairs to offer a graduate degree fully online. The program has enrolled more than 150 students since inception and was created as a flexible option for high achieving mid-career professionals as well as for those interested in beginning a career in international relations from anywhere in the world. Students participate in live weekly class sessions utilizing its partner 2U’s cloud-based interactive platform.

SIS Dean James Goldgeier noted the success of the online program and said, “2015 marks the first graduating class of the School of International Service online Master’s Degree in International Relations, where students across the country and around the world pursued their studies in this first-ever online degree of its kind. These students took a substantial risk to try something that had never been done before in the United States. They were innovators. Today they are graduates. Congratulations to all of you.”

IR Online graduate and lieutenant in the United States Navy, Emily Ham, who is currently based at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, provided a keynote address at the SIS ceremony. “The vast majority of you have no idea who I am. You haven’t seen me on campus and you’ve never had a class with me,” said Ham. “Over the past 2 years I’ve been enrolled in IR Online – for those among you who are skeptical of online education, let me assure you we have shared many of the same experiences. During my two years in this program, I have sat through lectures while in fifteen countries. I have read textbooks and written papers while on trains, planes and automobiles. I have even submitted an assignment while on a ferry boat crossing the English Channel. Conducting my studies online has allowed me to continue serving my country overseas while obtaining a graduate education from one of the top International Relations programs in the world.”

Students enrolled in the IR Online program can pursue concentrations in United States Foreign Policy and National Security, International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, International Development, or Global Security.

For more information about International Relations Online, visit ironline.american.edu or call 1-855-306-AUIR.