Academic Programs

M.A. International Studies

M.A. in International Studies Handbook 2019-20

M.A. in International Studies Handbook 2020-21

Program Description

The Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) is designed for two kinds of students. First, students concurrently pursuing another graduate degree in one of six professional schools at the University: the Foster School of Business Administration, the School of Forest Resources, the School of Law, the School of Marine Affairs, the Evans School of Public Affairs, and the School of Public Health. Second, students enter the program after already having gained professional experience or education. All graduate students participate in a year-long core series dealing with a broad framework for the study of international issues and institutions.  The graduate program requires proficiency in a modern foreign language. Students concentrate on two out of three three foci: Regional, Professional, or International Studies Field Focus.

The International Studies faculty is actively engaged in searches for new cross-regional approaches and transdisciplinary methods that are neither part of the existing academic disciplines nor simple composites of several disciplinary approaches. We have funded centers that study ethnic conflict, foreign policy and security issues, and research projects on state-society relations and how empires end. We also work with many other departments and area studies programs on campus.

– Deborah Porter, Chair

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet basic Graduate School requirements, which include a 3.00 GPA or better in their last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, and submission of test results from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). The GMAT is acceptable only for applicants who are concurrently applying to the Business School. The Law School Admissions Test is acceptable for applicants who are applying to the School of Law. Applicants also must meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Meeting minimum standards, however, does not ensure admission.

Prior foreign language study and preparation in intermediate-level macroeconomics and micro-economics is highly recommended for all applicants.  Those applying concurrently to a professional program must be first be accepted by the professional school. For non-current applicants, preference is given to those who have a professional interest, or previous professional experience or education.

Degree Requirements

All students must complete at least 38 credits in addition to fulfilling the language requirement. Those enrolled concurrently with one of the above mentioned professional schools must meet the requirements of both the professional school and those of the International Studies program; however some course work is counted for both degrees.


Students must reach a proficiency equivalent to the completion of two years of college level work in a modern foreign language. For Chinese and Japanese the requirement is three years.


Required Coursework:

The core courses are: JSIS 594/International and Area Studies (2 credits); JSIS 501/Comparative International Studies; JSIS 511/Research Design and Methods for International Studies (5 credits each); an approved Advanced Methods course.

  • JSIS 594 International and Area Studies (2 credits)
    Exposes students to the four-fold thematic intellectual rubric of the school, and to the wide range of teaching and research agendas represented in the Jackson School. Required common course for all first-year graduate and doctoral students.
  • JSIS 501 Seminar: Comparative International Studies (5 credits) 
    Focuses on comparison across geographical areas including comparative political economy, comparative cultures, and comparative institutions. Provides familiarity with the comparative method of inquiry, an understanding of the interplay between area studies and cross-regional theories, and skills in conducting comparative research and writing
  • JSIS 511/Research Design and Methods for International Studies (5 credits)
    Covers basic principles of research design, exposes students to excellent examples of basic research within international studies as practiced in the social sciences from case studies to large n  designs, and prepares students for conducting their own independent research project. Students are  expected to complete short assignments throughout the quarter, develop critical methodologically focused, commenting skills on research articles, and produce a research proposal for their thesis or one of their empirical research papers.
  • JSIS 591-592-593-—Colloquium in International Studies 1 credit each
    Offered every quarter to enhance MA student knowledge of the international studies field, to foster research collaborations among students and faculty, and to socialize students to develop writing, research, and presentation skills.
  • Advanced Methods (3-5 credits)
    Student must choose from an approved list of methods classes.

Other Coursework:

Students must complete at least 18 credits in two of the following three foci (3 courses per focus):

  • Regional or Area Studies Focus
    Students may focus on Africa; China; Comparative Religion; East Asia; Europe; Japan; Latin America; Near East; Russia, East Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; or Southeast Asia.
  • International Studies Field Focus
    Students may focus on one of four themes: 1. States, Markets and Society; 2. Governance, Law and Rights; 3. Culture and Religion; 4. Peace and Security.
  • Professional Focus
    This focus consists of courses offered by a professional school that deal with the international and comparative dimensions of the profession.  For students pursuing concurrent degrees, these courses can be counted for both the International Studies program and the professional degree.

Final Papers and Oral Exam

At the end of the course of study each student must pass an oral examination based on two research papers, a thesis, or a final paper. The M.A. examining committee will be composed of faculty members representing the foci the student has chosen.