Master of International Studies

The master of international studies is a special program open only to students who have completed or are currently enrolled in an approved master’s degree program at one of the Elliott School’s international partner schools. Students in the program take core courses in economics, history, and political science, three credits in an elective field designed with the approval of the Program Director, and a capstone sequence.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 28 credits, including 9 to 12 credits in core field courses, a 4-credit capstone sequence, 12 credits in a major field, and 0 to 3 credits in elective courses. In addition, all students are required to fulfill a foreign language proficiency requirement.*

See notes regarding special topics, skills, and LAW courses**

Core field (9-12 credits)
Three or four required courses in economics, history, and international affairs/political science, as described below. If the MIS candidate has taken an equivalent course at the partner institution, the student may transfer credit to satisfy that core field requirement with approval of the Program Director.
3 credits in political science
IAFF 6101International Affairs Cornerstone (Fall)
3 credits in history
HIST 6030History and Its Uses in International Affairs
3-6 credits in economics using one of the following options:
ECON 6280Survey of International Economics
ECON 6283
ECON 6284
Survey of International Trade Theory and Policy
and Survey of International Macroeconomics and Finance Theory and Policy
ECON 6280 is designed for students who have little background in economics. Those with a stronger prior background in economics may wish to substitute ECON 6280 with the ECON 6283 and ECON 6284 sequence for 6 credits. The ECON 6283 and ECON 6284 sequence is required for the international economic affairs concentration.
Capstone (4 credits)
Students complete a two-course capstone sequence that most closely matches the thematic area of their project. The capstone sequence includes a 2-credit capstone workshop taken before the 2-credit capstone seminar. The two 2-credit capstone courses must be taken consecutively.
IAFF 6898Capstone Workshop
IAFF 6899Capstone Course
Specialization (12 credits)
Specializations in the MIS program consist of four courses (12 credits) selected from one of the global issues or regional areas listed below. Students should choose courses from more than one academic discipline to complete their specialization and are encouraged to discuss these choices with the MIS Program Director. Subject matter covered in special topics courses may vary each semester. If the student has taken a related course at the partner institution, this may be transferred to satisfy as a specialization course, with approval of the MIS Program Director. Requirements for the specialization are outlined below. Note that the focus of special topics courses vary by semester. Consult the Schedule of Classes for each semester’s offerings. With permission of the Program Director, other topics courses not listed here may be used to fulfill program requirements.
Electives (0 to 3 credits)
Students who take ECON 6280 to fulfill the core requirement must take 3 credits in elective courses, which may be selected from disciplines including anthropology; business, economics, education, history, public administration, political sciences, among others. Up to 3 credits may be taken in skills courses.


Thematic specializations

Regional specializations

*Foreign language proficiency requirement

Students in the master of international studies program are required to demonstrate proficiency in a modern language other than English. Students may fulfill this requirement in one of the following ways:

  • Having earned a minimum grade of B in a sixth-semester university-level advanced language course completed no more than three years prior to matriculation in the Elliott School's master's degree program.
  • Having earned a minimum grade of B in a sixth-semester university-level advanced language course at GW, or in an approved course taken at another institution of higher learning, including Elliott School exchange partner institutions, while enrolled in the Elliott School master's program. 
  • Passing the Elliott School-administered foreign language proficiency reading and speaking examination at the currently-required level of proficiency. The Elliott School administers foreign language proficiency examinations once in the fall and once in the spring semesters. Students should plan to take the language proficiency examination as soon as possible following their matriculation in the program. Students have three opportunities to pass the examination. Failure to pass the examination for a third time results in dismissal from the program.
  • Achieving the required proficiency level in a reading and speaking examination administered by an Elliott School-approved foreign language assessment institution, at the student's expense, while enrolled in the Elliott School's Master's Degree Program.
  • Demonstrating the required foreign language proficiency level in a foreign language professional skills course offered through the Elliott School. The instructor tests the student during the course to determine if the required proficiency level has been achieved. 

As of fall 2018, the above policy applies to new and current students in the Elliott School’s non-regional studies master’s programs with a foreign language requirement. Consult the Program Director for more information.

**Specific subject matter covered in special/selected topics courses varies by semester. Consult the Schedule of Classes for each semester's offerings. Topics courses not listed here may be used to fulfill program requirements if approved by the Program Director.

Additional information regarding skills courses is available on the Elliott School website. 

Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses offered by the Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a LAW course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School's Office of Academic Advising and Student Service before enrolling in LAW courses.