Requirements, Registration & Forms

As you pursue your graduate degree at SIS, you'll need to track various academic requirements along the way. The information below is intended to help you navigate these requirements.

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Economics Placement Exam

In order to waive SISG-773 Introduction to Economic Theory, students must take and pass the SIS Online Economics Placement Exam. Exams are normally held twice per semester. Student should plan to take the exam prior to the semester in which the waiver is required to register for any of the following courses:

  • SISG-764 International Economics
  • SISG-768 Foundations of Economic Development

Exam Details

  • The Online Economics Placement Exam is offered live and is proctored, such that students must be on webcam during the length of the exam.
  • The exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions that cover both the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics.
  • Students have up to 90 minutes to complete the exam.
  • Students may only take the exam once as an SIS graduate student.
  • The passing score is a minimum of 74%

Note: For students admitted for Fall 2016 or earlier, some MA programs may allow students to waive SISG-773 based on other criteria. Students should check with their Academic Advisor if they have questions about whether they must take the Economics Placement Exam.

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Approved Methods Courses

Every student completing an IROnline degree has a required Methods component. Options vary based on your program.

All students in the MAIR and SE Online programs are required to take 6 credit hours of Methods coursework.

  • SISG-763 Quantitative Methods: Research Design & Analysis
  • Students may choose one of the following second level methods course options:
    • SISG-765 Planning, Forecasting and Decision-making
    • SIS-750 Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation.

Note: Students pursuing the International Development or International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution concentration tracks are recommended to take SIS-750 Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DM&E), and students pursuing the Global Security or U.S. Foreign Policy concentration tracks are recommended to take SISG-765 Planning, Forecasting, and Decision-making.

It is also recommended that students complete SISG-763 before pursuing their second level methods requirement.

All students in the MIS Online program are required to complete 3 credit hours of Methods coursework, and can take any one of the following courses in order to fulfill this requirement:

  • SISG-763 Quantitative Methods: Research Design & Analysis 
  • SIS-750 Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DM&E) 
  • SISG-765 Planning, Forecasting, and Decision-making

Language Proficiency

To satisfy the tool of research requirement (also known by most SIS programs as the language requirement), students must be able to conduct research in a language other than English. "Research," for the purposes of this degree requirement, means reading comprehension. Students for whom English is not their native language may be certified on the basis of their native language and English (the language of instruction for their graduate degree). All English language speakers will be required to certify proficiency in a language other than English.

Proficiency is

  • Reading proficiency at the intermediate level
  • Ability to read an article written in another language with good comprehension, using a dictionary only for specialized terminology

For students whose first language is English, proficiency in another language may be demonstrated by:

  • Passing the free Tool of Research (TOR) examination in a language tested by the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition, and Research (CLEAR) at American University. The TOR is offered in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, and Arabic. Register for the next TOR exam.
  • Bachelor's degree in the language completed within 3 years of the date of matriculation.
  • Degree from a foreign university, in which the language of instruction is not English, completed within 3 years of the date of matriculation.

Alternatively, a student can be certified based on the following:

  • Presenting evidence of completion of a continuing education or graduate-level course in another language at the intermediate level with a grade of B or better.
  • If AU's Center for Language Learning does not offer a TOR exam in a language, we will accept certification by an accredited instructor/tutor of the language (please consult with your academic advisor prior to pursuing this option).

Either of these means can be certified up to a year before the student matriculates.

Note: If you have a learning disability that may adversely impact your ability to acquire foreign language competency, you must register with and provide documentation from American University's Academic Support Center. In such cases, the school will determine an alternative tool of research for you.

Independent Study & Capstone

Substantial Research Papers and independent studies require additional registration processes and are not registered through Eagle Service.

Registration Steps

Complete all steps of the registration process described below no later than the last day of the Add/Drop period for the semester of registration. For specific dates, please consult the Academic Calendar

Once your faculty and academic advisors have electronically approved your completed registration request, registration will be processed within 3-5 business days.

  1. Prepare the appropriate project proposal.

Independent Study (SIS-690): A syllabus (1-2 pages) that identifies: 


  • learning objectives
  • reading, research, or other projects to be completed during the semester
  • method of evaluation, including relevant deadlines

Substantial Research Paper (SIS-795): A brief research proposal (2-3 pages) containing:



  • research question(s)
  • method(s) used to answer the question
  • importance or relevance of the project to current policy or academic debates


  1. Complete the electronic Independent Study Registration Form using your university credentials to log-in.
    • Term: Semester and year
    • Subject: SIS
    • Number:
      • 690: Independent Study
      • 795: Substantial Research Paper
    • Type: All projects must be graded A-F
    • Number of Credits:
      • Substantial research papers are 3 credits
      • Independent studies are 1-3 credits
    • Title: Project title
    • Description: Brief project description
    • Faculty Advisor: Faculty member who will serve as your project supervisor
    • Academic Advisor: Academic advisor in the SIS Graduate Advising Office (not a faculty member)
  1. Attach the approved project proposal addendums.
  2. Sign the form and press "Submit."
  3. Complete the Graduate Global Program (GGP) Application and Trip Information form, if your project will involve any international travel.

By submitting the registration material for an independent study or substantial research paper, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the following policies:

  • Human Subject Research: If any portion of your research involves human subjects as defined by American University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects, you must receive prior approval by the IRB or its designee before conducting the research project. To determine whether your research requires IRB approval and to learn more about the approval process, please visit the IRB website or consult your faculty supervisor.
  • Academic Integrity: Standards for academic conduct are established by the University's Academic Integrity Code. By registering for an independent study or substantial research paper, you acknowledge that you are aware of the Academic Integrity Code and a student's rights and responsibilities as defined by the Code. This includes understanding and recognizing plagiarism. Please see your faculty supervisor if you have any questions about the academic violations described in the Code in general or as they relate to particular requirements for your project.

Cross-University Courses

As an International Relations Online student, you have the opportunity enroll in online, graduate-level courses from schools affiliated with our technology partner, 2U, Inc.

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Immersions are meant to provide students with a variety of learning experiences that build on the program's curriculum. Immersion is required for all IR Online students.

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