Gain the Experience to Get Ahead

If you are interested in or are currently working in the fields of diplomacy, security, or international development in Washington, DC, then you can gain experience and applicable skills to get ahead in the workplace. Coursework is focused on foreign policy and the U.S. role on the global stage combined with skills institutes focused on negotiation, cultural competence, program development, grant writing, and more.

Your GPS Semester


The three credit graduate seminar provides a conceptual and practical understanding of how the fields of diplomacy, defense and security, and development work in Washington and beyond. In addition to instructor led classroom lectures, students benefit from skills sessions focused in intercultural and cross-cultural training and management.

Sample Class Topics

  • Formulating & Implementing Foreign Policy
  • The Role of U.S. Global Governance
  • U.S. Defense Policy and Private Security Roles
  • Terrorism, Drugs, and Trafficking
  • Economic and Military Assistance
  • Human Rights & Conflict
  • Role of NGOs: Analyzing the local Economy and Political Environment
  • Development: Geography, Health, and Women

Sample Skills Sessions

  • Requirements of crisis diplomacy and non-crisis public diplomacy
  • Cultural Competence in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • Multi-cultural Conflict Role-play
  • Integrated Diplomacy, Defense, and Development
  • Applied Intercultural Relations Research: Strategies for Developing Winning Proposals and Workable Programs

As part of your GPS semester, you will have the choice of participating in a 3-day per week internship or an applied research course.

One of the greatest advantages to studying in Washington, D.C. is the unparalleled access that you have to internships. As a Graduate Professional Studies student, you will have access to our Internship Database—the largest of its kind focusing on internships in the Washington, D.C. area, along with resume and cover letter reviews and one-on-one internship advising. Our staff provides you with unparalleled resources to help you through the internship search process, so you can add relevant work experience to your resume.

Many students choose to participate in the research course instead of the internship. If you have a specific topic that you would like to research in depth and produce a quality research paper on or if you are working full time and need the flexibility of an independent study course, the research option may be the right fit for you.

Graduate Professional Studies students select a graduate level elective from across the universities course offerings. This is a good opportunity to explore potential areas of interests, add an additional skillset to your expertise, or to start fulfilling degree requirements for a future Master's degree. To explore course offerings, please review the AU Schedule of Classes and look for evening elective courses that are at the 500 or 600-level and do not require prerequisites.

Set the Foundation for a Future Degree

By participating in Graduate Professional Studies in Diplomacy, Defense, & Development, you can start to earn credits that could count toward a Master's degree at American University or another institution.

As you think about your GPS semester, you may want to reference the course requirements of degree programs that you may want to attend in the future. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree after GPS with American University's School of International Service or School of Public Affairs, then you may want to take one of the following recommended elective options.

Our program office is happy to discuss how your GPS program and elective options could count toward a future degree program at American University or elsewhere.

Recommended Electives for Diplomacy, Defense, & Development

SPA: MS Terrorism & Homeland Security
  • JLC-602: Legal Theory
  • JLC-607: Concept of Justice
  • JLC-672: Terrorism, Crime and Public Policy
  • JLC-609: Criminological Theory
  • JLC-610: Current Controversial Issues in Justice and Public Policy
SPA: Public Administration or Public Policy
  • PUAD-601 Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis I
  • PUAD-617 Project Management
  • PUAD-684 Organizational Analysis
SIS: MA Comparative and Regional Studies
  • SIS-672 Theories of Comparative and International Studies
  • SIS-619 Global Political Economy
  • A regional course in your region of interest
SIS: MA Global Governance, Politics, and Security
  • SIS-619 Global International Relations Theory
  • SIS-619 History of Global Politics
  • SIS-619 Foundations of Global Security
SIS: MA U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security
  • SIS-682 Foreign Policy: Institutions and Processes
  • SIS-653 Diplomatic Practice
  • SIS-653 U.S. National Security Strategy
  • SIS-653 Continuity & Change
  • SIS-689 Foreign Policy: Theories of Decision Making
SIS: MA International Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • SIS-606 Culture, Peace & Conflict Resolution
  • SIS-619 Econ. of Violence & Peace
  • SIS-609 Conflict Analysis & Resolution
  • SIS-607 Peace Paradigms


Lana Surface
Associate Director
Graduate & Executive Education
(202) 895-4859