Program Overview

10 Things To Know About EMIS

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

EMIS blends theory and practice through a curriculum that combines the teaching of expert Jackson School faculty with training and insights from skilled practitioners of international security, diplomacy, law, development and business. EMIS provides the best of a traditional graduate education – research, critical thinking, analysis, debate – with the professional skills needed to succeed in the international workplace, such as presentations, policy writing, media training, negotiation, and crisis management. Its coursework links the past to the 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 sits on the westernmost edge of the United States, far from the historical U.S. power centers of New York and Washington, DC. Yet the west coast, melds pioneers, innovators, and rebels. We see and experience the world differently. EMIS draws on that perspective and uses a multidisciplinary approach to understand and engage in the international affairs landscape. International affairs change, reflecting shifting economic, political, and societal influences. Diplomats no longer solely represent their nation abroad. An expanding community of stakeholders outside of government engage in pressing global challenges.

To be effective, international affairs leaders must look outside their industries and organizations. They must intersect with government, the military, business and civil society. Seattle, home to leading multinationals, NGOs, Foundations and the U.S. Military, is a microcosm of the larger changes in the world today. It is from that vantage point that the EMIS experience begins. The EMIS curriculum gives students a solid knowledge basis of a never static world and a multidisciplinary approach to “wicked” problems facing our globe.

3. Why study in Seattle?

Seattle is a thriving center of business and culture on the Pacific Rim with deep historical ties to Asia. The joint ports of Seattle and Tacoma represent the third-largest port system in North America, and Washington State is a top trading partner to the world. Our region nests major multinational corporations, including Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. We also host a number of influential philanthropic organizations, including the Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world. The area boasts a robust nonprofit community, including the home of World Vision and PATH, a leader in global health. Finally, the Pacific Northwest features a strong military presence that includes the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Seattle is also beautiful: snow-capped mountains and water views in every direction. Our students enjoy 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. We offer countless local coffee roasters, an important for students craving a caffeine fix.

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.

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

EMIS Civic Council  (corporate, non-governmental, political and security sector figures from companies and organizations across the Pacific Northwest directly influencing global policy and decision-making), 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 is designed to meet the needs of 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 strengths – world-class faculty and a commitment to interdisciplinary and comparative teaching on the world’s regions, cultures and languages. There is no definitive lens through which our faculty understand global complexity. EMIS professors are drawn from, and indeed draw upon, diverse disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, economics, history, government, and political science. Their courses complement those taught by leading Seattle-area practitioners working in diplomacy, law, business, advocacy, and many other professions.

Our curriculum changes every year to remain relevant and tackle topics both in the news and on the horizon. Over the course of the program, EMIS students engage the driving political, economic, cultural and historical forces around the globe, from Asia to the Arctic. You may take courses on the foundations of the world order, US foreign policy, negotiation, contemporary Asia, international humanitarian law and the use of force, international development, technology and society, human security, energy, migration, and more. Our current course schedule is found here.

7. Is there a final EMIS project or thesis?

The EMIS program provides two unique capstone experiences rather than a thesis. The Applied Research Client Project (ARCP) takes place during spring and summer quarters, with a preparation seminar in winter quarter. Students work in teams to tackle real-world challenges facing organizations with a local presence, such as Boeing, Starbucks, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Mercy Corps. The ARCP allows students the opportunity to “try out” a new sector, or tackle an issue they have never confronted in their own careers. The experience also serves to build strong relationships between our students and our Civic Council partners, as well as the subject matter experts we hire to advise each team.

EMIS students also participate in an International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise, delivered in collaboration with the Army War College. Each year, the EMIS program and the U.S. Army War College team select a real-world crisis scenario to role-play, which is negotiated over an intense two-day period. Students from across the University of Washington are invited to enroll and 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 is brought in to mediate 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. In advance of the 2-day exercise, students receive background briefings on the conflict, as well as workshops on negotiation, crisis leadership, and decision-making.

8. Who is a typical EMIS student?

All of our students have worked or interned for at least three years and seek their next challenge. Some desire a master’s degree to advance in their current field; others a career transition. All our students want to engage and  impact the world. Students 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. Geographically, up to half of our students call Washington State home. The other half of our students is drawn from across the United States and around the world.

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

Each year we seek to build a cohort of students who learn from, and challenge, one another. Our application process is holistic, meaning one element is not weighted more or less heavily than another. We look for students with solid academic and diverse personal and professional backgrounds to bring a significant and unique perspective to EMIS. We also seek students not predicting the future, but inventing it.

10. Where do EMIS alum go after they graduate?

Everywhere. Given the multidisciplinary nature of the EMIS program, our alumni spread out in all directions. From a geographic perspective, many stay in Seattle, while others head out across the United States and around the world. In terms of professional opportunities, our alumni return to work in all sectors – public and military service, business, philanthropy, nonprofit and civil society organizations, and far beyond. Check out a few of our alum hard at work changing the world.