Master of Arts in the Field of International Affairs

The Elliott School's master of arts in the field of international affairs degree program is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the contemporary issues in international affairs as they develop in-depth knowledge of at least one or more areas of specialization. For their concentration, students may choose from among several fields of global issues or one of the regions of the world. Graduates of the program have pursued exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development, and public health.

Visit the program website for additional information.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 40 credits, including 9 to 12 credits in core field courses, 3 credits in skills courses, 12 credits in a thematic or regional concentration, a 4-credit capstone course sequence, and 9 to 12 credits in elective courses. In addition, students must fulfill a foreign language proficiency requirement (see below). 

See note regarding skills courses, the capstone, and the additional thesis option.*

Core field courses (9 to 12 credits)
Three or four courses from the following:
HIST 6030History and Its Uses in International Affairs
IAFF 6101International Affairs Cornerstone
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.
Skills courses (3 credits)
Three 1-credit professional skills courses in any combination from the following:
IAFF 6502Professional Skills I
IAFF 6503Professional Skills II
Concentration (12 credits)
Students must complete a thematic or regional concentration in consultation with the Program Director.
Capstone (4 credits)
Students complete a two-course capstone sequence that most closely matches the thematic area of their course work. The capstone sequence includes a 2-credit capstone workshop taken before the 2-credit capstone seminar. Students must have completed at least 18 credits of coursework prior to starting the capstone sequence. The two 2-credit capstone courses must be taken consecutively.
IAFF 6898Capstone Workshop
IAFF 6899Capstone Course
Additional thesis option
Students who wish to complete a thesis do so in addition to the capstone requirement. Students pursuing a thesis must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and approval from the faculty member who will serve as their thesis director. Thesis students also need to complete at least one research methods course. Thesis credits are counted as elective or concentration credits with Program Director approval. The two 3-credit thesis courses must be taken consecutively.
IAFF 6998Thesis
IAFF 6999Thesis
Electives (9 to 12 credits)
Three to four elective courses, which may include up to 6 credits of foreign language study, a second field of expertise, or other relevant coursework. Students are strongly encouraged to take a research methods course.

*Additional information regarding skills courses, the capstone, and the thesis is available on the Elliott School website. 


Students in the master of arts in the field of international affairs program must complete a concentration by taking at least four courses (12 credits) selected from one of thematic or regional concentrations listed below. Specific requirements are listed under the "Concentrations" tab. Students are encouraged to discuss their course selections with their faculty adviser.

Thematic concentrations:

Regional concentrations:

Foreign language proficiency requirement

Students in the master of arts in the field of international affairs 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.