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 35 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% (26/35).
  • For an overview of the topics covered in the exam, click here (log in with your and password to view) 

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.

2023 Exam Dates

  • November 13 - 17

2024 Exam Dates

  • February 5 - 9
  • March 11 - 15
  • June 3 - 7
  • July 8 - 12
  • October 7 - 11
  • November 11 - 15

Register now

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 program 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  
  • SISG-765 Planning, Forecasting, and Decision-making
  • SIS-750 Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PDM&E)

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.
    • 2023 Exam Dates: 
      • November 13 - 17
    • 2024 Exam Dates:
      • February 5 - 9
      • March 11 - 15
      • June 3 - 7
      • July 8 - 12
      • October 7 - 11
      • November 11 - 15
  • 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).
  • If you have completed language study as part of your military service and participated in testing, please reach out to your academic advisor to determine if this may fulfill the Tool of Research requirement.

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.

Substantial Research Papers & Independent Study

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

View the Substantial Research Paper: Online Advising Summary

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. The initial faculty advisor meeting must take place no later than 1 month prior to the last day of the Add/Drop period. For Spring 2024, the deadline to connect with Professor Stanaitis about your proposal is the end of November. Students must submit their proposal by December 17, 2023 to be eligible for Spring 2024 SRP registration.

For specific dates, please consult the Academic Calendar

Once all steps are completed, and your faculty and academic advisors have electronically approved your registration request, the registration will be processed within 3-5 business days and the credits added to your schedule.

  1. Meet with Faculty Advisor and develop the required project proposal. The required proposals for each type of project are:
    • Independent Study (SIS-690): A syllabus (1-2 pages) for the proposed independent study that identifies: 1) the learning objectives for the study, 2) the reading, research, or other projects to be completed during the semester, and 3) how the independent study will be evaluated, including any relevant deadlines.
    • Substantial Research Paper (SIS-795): A brief research proposal (2-3 pages). A typical proposal will: 1) identify a research question(s), 2) describe the method(s) that will be used to answer the question, and 3) explain the importance or relevance of the project to current policy or academic debates.
  2. (SIS-795 Only) Find a content expert. The content expert professor is critical for the student’s ability to successfully complete the SRP. 
  3. Once your faculty advisor approves your proposal, complete the electronic Independent Study Registration Form. You will need to log in with your AU credentials to access the form.
  4. In the online form, enter the following pieces of information:
    • Term: Enter the semester and year in which you are going to be conducting your independent research.
    • Subject: SIS
    • Number: Enter the "number" associated with the project you are registering. The corresponding numbers for each type of project are:
      • 690: Independent Study
      • 795: Substantial Research Paper
    • Type: Select "A-F" from the dropdown menu. All projects must be graded A-F
    • Number of Credits: Select the number of credits associated with your project from the dropdown menu. Please consult your academic advisor if you are unsure about the number of credits you should register for.
      • Substantial research papers are 3 credits
      • Independent studies are 1-3 credits
    • Title: Enter your project's title. For SRPs, this is the topic/title of your paper and should not be "SRP" or "Substantial Research Paper." There is a 30 character limit. 
    • Description: Brief project description
    • Will this independent study be in COMM?: No
    • Will this independent study fulfill the AU Core Capstone Requirement? (Undergraduates only): No
    • Faculty Advisor: Enter the name of the faculty member who will serve as your primary project supervisor. This is not your Content Expert. 
    • Academic Advisor: Academic advisor in the IR Online Advising Office (not a faculty member or student success coach)
  5. Attach the approved project proposal addendums (from Step 1) to the Independent Study Registration Form.
  6. Sign the form and press "Submit."
    • Please note: After submitting your Independent Study Registration Form, you will be redirected to a blank screen. You will receive a confirmation email from the Office of the Registrar.
  7. If your project will involve any international travel, complete the Graduate Global Program (GGP) Application and Trip Information form. Note: the Trip Information form must be reviewed by your academic advisor.

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.

Last updated 28 Sept 2023.

New Students: First Semester Registration Suggestions

Suggested courses and scheduling tips for new students entering an IR Online program for their first year.

New Student Registration Recommendations: Please contact your academic advisor with questions.

Recommended Courses for new MAIR Students: The best practice for new students is to begin with core course requirements. Ideally, pair one qualitative course with one quantitative course (Econ/Quantitative methods) or take two qualtiative core courses.

Qualitative Core Course (3 credits) Choose from these:

  • SISG-760: Global International Relations: History, Theory, Practice
  • SISG-761: Intercultural Communication
  • SISG-762: Global Governance

Quantitative Core Courses (Recommends one per semester):

  • SISG-763: Quantitative Methods
  • SISG-773: Introduction to Economics
  • SISG-764: International Economics (Pre-req: SISG-773: Intro to Economics or equivalent)

New Student Registration Recommendations: Please contact your academic advisor with questions.

For Spring 2024:

Here is the update for MIS first semester course recommendations for Spring 2024. What do I register for?

  • We encourage students to register for *Based on a 6 credits a semester pace*:
  • SIS-686 – Proseminar in International Affairs
  • SISG-774 – Understanding Global Economics & Markets
  • Students registering for 9 credits, could add a concentration course (p.2 of the academic advising worksheet).


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

Learn more