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Create Ethical International Policy

Combining the study of ethics and international policy, American University's MA in Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights will prepare you to be a responsible leader. The program is jointly administered by the Department of Philosophy and Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School for International Service to offer an ethical response to some of the world's most pressing problems.

This interdisciplinary program will train you in the practical application of ethical theory and policy analysis to complex issues in global affairs. You will built a strong foundation in international relations, moral philosophy, human rights, and peace studies with your core coursework and then expand on that knowledge in one of six tracks of specialization. You will develop your ability to grapple with the complex dynamics of war and violence, human rights, social justice, environmental issues, and peacemaking with a unique set of interdisciplinary courses that link the foundational concepts of philosophical ethics to practical applications and connect policy analysis with contemporary societal challenges.

study abroad in Ecuador

The department will be offering a study abroad program in Ecuador. Check back soon for more details!

A Flexible Program With Solid Results

The EPHR MA is structured around a set of core courses in ethics, peace and conflict studies, and human rights. You will build on this foundation with courses in your chosen research methodologies and develop expertise by specializing in one of six concentration areas: Human Rights and Social Justice, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Global Environmental Justice, Ethics of Development, International Economic Justice, and Global Governance and International Organizations.

For the capstone experience, you can follow the traditional academic route by writing a master’s thesis or take a more applied approach by completing a substantial research paper, engaging in a practicum experience, or taking an internship with an organization related to your intended career field. Our program is designed to give you options so you can customize your degree to fit your goals.  

Full-time students complete the degree in two years. Part-time study is available. See complete Admissions & Course Requirements and Degree Requirements.

World-Class Scholars And Practitioners

Kelso Cratsley, the Department of Philosophy and Religion's Director of Graduate Studies, also serves as the adviser for students in the College of Arts and Sciences track of the EPHR program. For more specific information about the program, he can be reached at

Because our program is jointly administered by the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the School for International Service, you will have access to two tremendous faculties to help you synthesize your knowledge of international affairs and ethics. The Department of Philosophy and Religion has notable strengths in ethics, feminist philosophy, applied philosophy, and the history of philosophy. Students also have access to the world-class faculty of the School of International Service. Together, the combined program faculty consists of recognized, widely published scholars and practitioners who are engaged in today's most pressing issues of international relations, policy, peacemaking, and human rights.  


Study Policy Where It Is Made

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, Washington, DC, offers students access to a wide-ranging network of individuals and organizations. Home to the federal government, think tanks, advocacy groups, and international organizations, DC provides unlimited opportunities in fields related to ethics, human rights, and international affairs. AU students take advantage of networking opportunities and public events addressing every imaginable policy issue.

To help our students establish lasting connections, gain practical experience, and get a head start on their careers, we provide internship opportunities at important area institutions, including congress, the Department of State, the US Institute of Peace, USAID, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Ethics Resource Center, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the Urban Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


A World of Opportunity

Your MA will prepare you for further graduate study or for a variety of careers in world-changing institutions. Some of our students pursue further education in law schools or doctoral programs. We have alumni in PhD programs at George Washington University, the New School, SUNY Binghamton, and Virginia Tech.

Many of our graduates work for the federal government in positions with the Department of State, Department of Justice, USAID, and the Peace Corps. Alumni interested in international development have found careers with the World Bank Group, Inter-American Development Bank, and Chemonics International. Other alumni work for humanitarian organizations such as the American Red Cross and Doctors without Borders or nonprofits like Planned Parenthood and the Internews Network. Across DC and around the world, EPGA MAs can be found in positions where they can make a difference.

For more information on alumni and internships, see our Career Prospects and Internships pages. 


Connect with the Experts

McDowell Conference: The professorship was established in 1937 on the basis of a gift to the Department of Philosophy and Religion from the estate of Bishop William Fraser McDowell. Every year, the chair of the department brings in a keynote speaker to speak with the AU community on issues surrounding philosophy and social policy.

Durfee Lecture: The Annual Durfee Lecture was initiated by a generous gift from Harold A. Durfee and Doris G. Durfee. Held every spring, the series provides our students and colleagues with the opportunity to meet distinguished thinkers.

Bishop Hurst Lecture: The Bishop John Fletcher Hurst Philosophy Lecture was initiated by the Department of Philosophy and Religion and named for the founder of American University, who was himself a philosopher. Offered annually in the spring, it brings to the American University campus some of the most distinguished thinkers from this country and abroad.

Ethics Bowl: The Ethics Bowl is a fun and rewarding way to get high school students thinking about the challenging ethical and political issues of our time. High school students are coached by current AU students to investigate and debate such issues as medical ethics, censorship, violence in schools, and the financial practices of world governments, all in a chiefly collaborative manner.

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