Program Overview

10 Things To Know About EMIS

1. What is an “Executive Master of International Studies”?

EMIS (formerly known as Masters of Arts in Applied International Studies, or MAAIS) provides the best of a traditional graduate education – research, critical thinking, analysis, debate – with the professional skills needed to succeed in the international workplace. Its coursework links past to present, historical lessons learned to the global challenges of today, and the University of Washington to Seattle’s remarkable community of international affairs leaders and change makers.

2. What makes EMIS distinct from other programs?

Seattle melds pioneers, artists, innovators, and rebels. We see, experience and interact with the world differently, using a multidisciplinary approach to engage international affairs and their capacity to reflect shifting economic, political, and societal influences.

The EMIS program at the University of Washington is the only accelerated (one year or less) masters’ program in international studies/affairs in the American Pacific Northwest and one of only two programs on the west coast of the United States within the APSIA (Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs) network.

3. Why study in Seattle?

Seattle thrives as a center of business and culture on the Pacific Rim.  Our region hosts major multinational corporations, including Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. We are home to a number of influential philanthropic organizations, including the Gates Foundation, the largest in the world. The area boasts a robust nonprofit community, including World Vision and PATH, a leader in global health. Finally, the Pacific Northwest features an Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard presence.

Seattle offers snow-capped mountains and water views in every direction. And easy access to ski slopes, lakes and sailing opportunities, hiking on specular trails, wild beaches and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean, and a laid back, outdoorsy atmosphere. And plenty of coffee houses.

4. How Do EMIS students engage with the Seattle community?

The EMIS Civic Council  (corporate, non-governmental, political and security sector figures from companies and organizations across the Pacific Northwest), uniquely brings expertise and diverse views to the program through special lectures, field visits, simulations and client projects. This collaboration offers significant networking and job search opportunities that helps our students stay current, knowledgable, and up-to-date on valuable skills.

5. Can I work and study at the same time?

EMIS caters to mid-career professionals. We offer a 10- or 12- month program as well as a less intensive two-year option. EMIS courses typically take place Monday-Friday during afternoons, with some class sessions or additional activities on evenings and weekends. If you plan to work while studying please build some flexibility into your schedule. Students working full-time while studying may consider the two-year option.

6. What kind of courses will I take?

EMIS draws on the UW Jackson School’s world-class faculty and a commitment to interdisciplinary and comparative teaching on the world’s regions, cultures and languages.  EMIS professors represent diverse disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, economics, history, government, and political science. Their courses complement those taught by Seattle-area practitioners working in diplomacy, law, business, advocacy, and many other professions.

Our curriculum tackles topics both in the news and on the horizon. EMIS students engage political, economic, cultural and historical forces around the globe, from Asia to the Arctic: courses on the foundations of the world order, negotiation, contemporary Asia, technology and society, and more. Our current course schedule is found here.

7. Is there a final EMIS project or thesis?

EMIS provides two unique capstone experiences rather than a thesis.

A. The Applied Research Client Project (ARCP) takes place during spring and summer quarters, with a preparation seminar in winter quarter. Student teams tackle real-world challenges facing organizations with a local presence, such as Boeing, Starbucks, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Mercy Corps. The ARCP allows students to “try out” a new sector, or tackle an unfamiliar issue. The experience develops relationships between our students and our Civic Council partners, as well as the subject matter experts we hire to advise each team.

B. The International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise brings the U.S. Army War College and EMIS together over an intense 2-day weekend involving a real-world crisis and students negotiating to resolve it. Students from across the University of Washington also participate. Participants role-play members of diplomatic teams charged by their governments with negotiating a solution advantageous to their national interests.

A senior government official mediates the discussions, and each team is coached by a high-level mentor, typically a UW faculty or an invited subject matter expert  from business, government, or military sector. Prior to the 2-day event, students are briefed on the conflict, negotiation, crisis leadership, and decision-making.

8. Who is a typical EMIS student?

Our students have worked or interned for at least three years and seek their next challenge. For others a master’s degree advances their current field or a career transition. All our students meaningfully engage the world and come from various sectors – public and military service, business, philanthropy, nonprofit, and civil society organizations, and far beyond. The average age of an EMIS student is mid-thirties, though the range is typically anywhere from mid twenties to mid fifties. Half of our students call Washington state home. The other half is drawn from across the United States and around the world.

9. How do you evaluate applications and who is eligible to apply?

Our students learn from, grow with and challenge, one another. Our application process is holistic: one element is not weighted more than another. EMIS students’ academic and diverse personal and professional backgrounds bring a significant and unique perspective to EMIS. Our students regard higher learning as a formative and inspiring life experience.

10. Where do EMIS alum go after they graduate?

Everywhere. Given our multidisciplinarity, our alumni spread out in all directions.  Many stay in Seattle, others head out across the United States and around the world. Our alumni work in all sectors – public and military service, business, philanthropy, nonprofit and civil society organizations, and beyond. Check out a few of our alum hard at work changing the world.