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 certain requirements, including economics, program-specific methods courses, professional experience, language proficiency, and the capstone. Information about registering for an independent study or taking courses at other Consortium universities also is included.

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.

Professional Experience

The Social Enterprise program requires students to demonstrate relevant and substantive professional experience. Students may certify this experience in one of three ways:

  1. By completing a for-credit or non-credit internship while enrolled in MA program
  2. Through current or previous employment
  3. Through previous internship experience completed prior to starting the MA program


Students fulfilling the professional experience requirement via option 1 must register a for-credit or non-credit internship during their MA program and students must meet all relevant registration deadlines (see University Academic Calendar). Internships must be registered in the semester in which they are being completed. For internship registration instructions and forms, please visit the Internship Registration page.

Students fulfilling the professional experience requirement via options 2 or 3 must fill out the MA Professional Experience Certification Form, including supervisor confirmation. Submit form to the SIS Graduate Advising office, either in person or via email at

Experience Certification

Non-credit internships are used to fulfill the professional experience requirement. Internships for academic credit can fulfill the professional experience requirement and may be counted towards academic program requirements (e.g. elective). Consult your advisor for more information.

Course Numbers

  • SIS-091: Non-credit internship
  • SIS­-691: For-credit internship taking place entirely within the United States
  • SIS­-692: For-credit internship with any international travel component


Students are responsible for finding their own internships. For internship resources, visit the Career Center. All registered internships must:

  • Take place between the first and last day of the semester in which it is registered. A 3-credit internship for academic credit and all non-credit internships require at least 210 hours of service. Students seeking to register a for-credit internship for fewer than 3 credits should consult their academic advisor.
  • Be at least 85% substantive in nature (e.g., research, report writing, etc.)
  • Be relevant to a student's program of study.
  • Non-credit internships: Internships registered for non-credit to fulfill the professional experience requirement do not require a faculty advisor or academic work plan, and are registered pass/fail.
  • For-credit internships: To receive credit for an internship, students are required to register for an SIS internship course, which is registered for a letter grade (see Schedule of Classes for further course information). Questions about registration should be directed to the Graduate Advising office. Questions about the course should be directed to the relevant instructor.
  • Internships with any international travel component require Graduate Global Program (GGP) approval. Students completing an international internship should meet with an SIS Career Advisor prior to departure to discuss how to best leverage their international internship towards their career goals. Schedule an appointment with an SIS Career Advisor.


  • Complete all required spaces on the Internship Registration forms (and GGP forms as necessary).
  • For-credit internships: 1) Have your internship site supervisor confirm your duties on the Internship Info Form; 2) Indicate for which internship course section/instructor you wish to register and the number of credits; 3) Sign the forms; 4) Submit the forms (including the GGP if applicable) to the Graduate Advising office. Your academic advisor will obtain the faculty supervisor and Department Chair/Dean signatures and submit the forms to the Registrar's office for processing on your behalf.
  • Non-credit internships: 1) Have your internship site supervisor confirm your duties on the Internship Info Form; 2) Sign the forms; 3) Submit the forms (including the GGP if applicable) to the Graduate Advising office. Your academic advisor will obtain the faculty supervisor and Department Chair/Dean signatures and submit the forms to the Registrar's office for processing on your behalf.
  • Deadline: Registration deadlines are listed on the University Academic Calendar. If the internship is the only academic credits for which you plan to register in a semester, the deadline to initially register without a late fee is the Friday before the first day of classes. Tuition charged for for-credit internships is the same as the normal tuition rate. There is no cost for non-credit internships.

International Students on F­-1 or J­-1 Visas

  • F-1 and J-1 students must receive authorization from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) before beginning an internship off campus. Contact ISSS to determine your immigration eligibility and see the ISSS website for the process for obtaining authorization.

Internship form

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.

Find out more


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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