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An ethical approach to global challenges

Today's international affairs professionals must grapple with the most difficult and complex issues of our time: human rights abuses, dynamics of war and peace, environmental degradation, violent conflicts, and more. The Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights MA Program uniquely combines ethics and international studies, preparing students to be ethically informed thinkers and practitioners in the analysis, development, and application of policy responses to contemporary global issues.

Offered between the School of International Service and the College of Arts and Science, this collaborative degree was founded to deepen the ethical context for international studies through an interdisciplinary approach to the field. Students will graduate with the ability to apply ethical frameworks to policy analysis, aiding in the development of peaceful solutions to international challenges.

Prime Location

The Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights (EPHR) program requires 36 credit hours of graduate coursework, including a capstone, that can be completed in two years (full-time) or up to six years (part-time). In preparing graduates to be ethical and responsible leaders, the EPHR program supports American University’s global vision. It is built around a set of core courses that provide a strong foundation in international relations, moral philosophy, human rights, and peace studies.

Expanding on their knowledge of core concepts, students will select a track in which to concentrate their learning and to advance their particular interests. Students will further tailor the program by completing a capstone requirement: a traditional master's thesis, an independent research project, an internship, or a collaborative practicum with an organization related to their intended career field.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

Because the Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights (EPHR) program is jointly administered by the School of International Affairs and the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the College of Arts and Sciences, students have access to two tremendous faculties to help them synthesize their knowledge of international affairs and ethics. EPHR faculty are scholar-practitioners, providing students the opportunity to learn from their academic intellect and hands-on experience in their fields.

Meet the EPHR faculty

Located in Washington, DC, students will find that the EPHR program is situated in a city that mirrors their studies: diverse and international, with unique access to a variety of ethical and mindful institutions. Embassies, government agencies, nonprofits, and private institutions are headquartered here, while world leaders and conferences regularly convene in DC and at SIS. EPHR students will have unparalleled opportunities to interact with and learn from the best in their fields.

The Global Environmental Policy (GEP) degree is part of the Global Environmental Politics Program at the School of International Service. Students pursuing their MA in Global Environmental Policy will collaborate with their cohort and will work closely with students pursuing the MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, GEP’s sister degree nested within the Global Environmental Politics Program.

Top employers: Chemonics International, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank Group, US Department of State, US Department of Justice

Frequently Asked Questions

When you should apply to the program depends on what semester you want to start taking classes in and whether you are a domestic or international student.

Application deadlines for an MA in Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights are as follows:

  • Fall semester: January 15
  • Spring semester: October 1

View required application materials

Missed a deadline but still interested in applying? Email the SIS Graduate Admissions office.

EPHR graduates go on to find and facilitate peaceful and ethical solutions to the world’s most daunting international challenges. They tackle issues like gender equality in the Middle East, interfaith understanding, public health, ethical approaches to development, and more. They boast successful careers in both the private and nonprofit sectors, government agencies, consulting firms, and even create their own organizations. While many graduates apply their MA in EPHR to work directly in the international affairs field, others may choose to pursue their doctorate studies or teach following their completion of the program.

Looking for more information or help? SIS has a dedicated career development center to assist current students and alumni.

The School of International Service offers merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships at the time of admission. SIS also has partnerships with a number of organizations like the Peace Corps and Pickering Fellowship that provide qualified individuals with funding.

Financial aid information for prospective students

Need-based aid is available through AU Central Office and generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package.

Federal loan and work study information for graduate students

Still have questions? Send us an email with program-specific questions at

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