M.A. in International Studies

The broad range of regional, comparative and interdisciplinary M.A. programs provide opportunities for students to study anything they can imagine.

The broad range of regional, comparative and interdisciplinary M.A. programs provide opportunities for students to study anything they can imagine.

We offer nine distinct M.A. programs – seven regional programs and two thematic programs. Our faculty’s deep respect for histories, geographies, languages and peoples, allows students to build comprehensive frameworks to understand the world. With these frameworks and the research, analysis and writing skills taught throughout all of the programs, students graduate with the expertise necessary to forge global careers.



All nine M.A. programs contain the following elements. While all programs require competency in a foreign language, the focus of the course work is predominantly in the social sciences. If you are interested in studying language or literature, your interests might be better served through one of the University’s many language departments.


Language training is a cornerstone of all of the Jackson School M.A. programs. All students who graduate from the Jackson School are expected to have attained between second- and fourth-year proficiency in at least one language. Students who enter with sufficient language proficiency to meet their program’s requirement are encouraged to study further in that language or to start a new language.


Most programs require students to take at least one introductory class and some programs require a course on research methods and design. The remainder of the coursework is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on the Jackson School faculty and faculty in other UW departments. Some popular area-focused and thematic-focused courses include:

  • JSIS A 417 Political Economy of India
  • JSIS A 458 Israel: Politics and Society
  • JSIS A 520 Post-Soviet Security
  • JSIS A 539 Japanese History in Ecological Perspective
  • JSIS A 588 Making of Modern Taiwan
  • JSIS B 526 Political Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism
  • JSIS B 529 Nuclear Nonproliferation
  • JSIS B 581 Fundamentals of Global Cybersecurity
  • RELIG 534 Gender, Sex and Religion


Students who attend the Jackson School learn the critical-thinking, analysis and research skills to conduct high level and original research in their field. They demonstrate these skills by completing their capstone research project in consultation with their Master’s committee.


Students present and defend their capstone research to their Master’s committee, demonstrating their presentation and speaking skills.


Grant DaileyGrant Dailey (MAIS/MPA, 2019), King County Management Auditor, “My Jackson School experience really bolstered my confidence to grapple with complex issues, and emphasized the value of speaking with others to help develop or challenge my own ideas and ways of thinking.” MORE



The MAIS programs are structured to be completed in two years. Concurrent degree students usually need one year beyond the time normally required for the professional program. For example, the MBA/MAIS-Japan Studies program or the MPA/MAIS-General program normally would be completed in three years.


Students admitted to the Jackson School must be able to attend day classes for all JSIS programs. A student admitted concurrently to the Jackson School and to the UW’s Evening MBA program must be prepared to complete the JSIS portion of their studies during the day.


All courses are taught in the classroom, not in an online format. Although independent study classes and thesis and dissertation writing can be completed remotely, students must attend all other classes in Seattle. While students may not need to attend full-time in all quarters, they should not enroll with the intention of being part-time students.



The M.A. programs can be combined with professional programs across campus into 3-4-year concurrent degree programs. Some professional program options include the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance (MPA), Foster School of Business (MBA), School of Law (J.D.)department of Global Health (MPH), School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (MMA), and School of Forest Resources (M.S. or MFR).

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Jackson School graduate students regularly receive Fulbright awards and Boren awards to pursue their research overseas. Recipients have pursued research in Jordan, Ecuador, Slovenia, Brazil and many other countries.

In addition, students regularly receive Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (FLAS), which support them in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students can apply for academic year fellowships, covering UW tuition and a living stipend, or summer fellowships that allow students to travel overseas to study a language in country. Jackson School students are particularly encouraged to apply at the same time they apply for the M.A. program.

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There are a number of funding opportunities for current and prospective graduate students. Some deadlines require prospective students to apply before they learn whether they have been accepted into the program, so be sure to plan ahead.

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The Jackson School houses 21 outreach centers and programs that connect the Jackson School to the wider UW and Pacific Northwest community. In addition, the Global Research Group and the International Policy Institute support our students’ engagement in research on hot international topics and client-based, work-readiness opportunities.

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Provides a broad understanding of the Chinese people and their culture, historical development, and contemporary problems. The curriculum emphasizes the attainment of facility in Chinese language, a grounding in history and a familiarity with the approaches of the social sciences to China studies. The breadth of offerings allows students to select courses to meet career goals in business, government, teaching or other professions.

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The Comparative Religion program was developed out of the study of a wide spectrum of cultural traditions in the area studies programs of the Jackson School, this program is highly international and trans cultural in nature. The University’s language and literature/civilization departments, particularly in areas represented by the regional programs within the Jackson School, offer incredibly diverse resources. This program provides a particularly strong foundation for students headed toward Ph.D. programs in religion.

Students complete both a major and a minor concentration. The major options are Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Religion and Religion and Culture. Minor options are the same, plus Greco-Roman religions, East Asian indigenous religions, African religious traditions and Native American traditions.

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The International Studies program draws on both area studies and other disciplines in molding a new approach to the study of international affairs. This interdisciplinary curriculum is intended to help students approach a profession with a better understanding of how to relate it to an increasingly interdependent world. The program emphasizes inquiry-based, critical analytic and writing skills that public and private employers demand. It is designed for students with some professional experience or advanced training, who want to solidify their international and global studies scholarship and practical training.

Through the MAIS general International Studies program you may complete a minor focus on any region of the world represented by our seven M.A. programs or on Africa, Canada, Global Indigenous Peoples, Latin America or Western Europe.

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The Japan Studies program gives students in-depth knowledge of many facets of Japan and familiarity with Japanese society and culture. Designed for students who need Japanese language and interdisciplinary training to pursue career goals, as well as for students preparing for a Japan-related Ph.D. program who have had little or no training on Japan or in the language. The curriculum provides additional variety and depth through Japan Colloquia and occasional special symposia.

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Korea Studies, one of the few programs of its kind in the United States, focuses on Korea within the broader context of East Asia. It combines language instruction with history, anthropology and interdisciplinary area training. The history courses cover the full range of the Korean experience. Graduate seminars provide opportunities for research in a variety of topics in the political, social, economic and intellectual history of the country. Course offerings are supplemented by visiting professors in fields such as political science, economics and economic development, folklore and literature.

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The Middle East Studies program provides students with a thorough grounding in the modern Middle East and Islamic Central Asia and a view of how this region fits into the world community politically, historically and economically. A variety of courses in economic development, anthropology, economics and historical and political geography is offered. Political Science courses range from those concerning the government and politics of the Middle East in general to theories of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa and the Arab-Israeli dispute. History courses range from the general history of the region to such topics as the expansion of Islam, the modern Middle East and Ottoman history.

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The Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies program (REECAS) allows flexibility in designing a course of study to meet career goals calling for area expertise. Students usually focus on one geographical region – Russia, East Europe, the Baltics or Central Asia. The curriculum, especially strong in the social sciences, history and languages, includes courses in anthropology, comparative literature, economics, geography, history, linguistics, political science, art, sociology, business, drama, law, marine affairs, music, public affairs, education and forest resources. This program requires two years of language study for admission.

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South Asia Studies offers students a framework within which to carry out the interdisciplinary study of the peoples and nations of the South Asian subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal,  Afghanistan and Bhutan. The curriculum combines rigorous training in one or more South Asian languages with study of various aspects of modern and classical South Asian civilizations. The University has a distinguished faculty of scholars who provide instruction in diverse areas of South Asian studies, offering a rich variety of courses on these topics. Students may specialize in (or combine) two areas of concentration: language, religion and culture; or environment, development, ethnicity and nationalism, human rights, gender, migration and contemporary politics.

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Southeast Asian Studies focuses specifically on the study of Southeast Asian languages, histories, cultures, and politics and allows students to complete their coursework in at least two disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The program prepares its graduates for work in professional fields as well as for Ph.D. programs in the student’s chosen social science or humanities discipline. The particular area strengths of the Southeast Asia faculty lie in the study of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Burma (Myanmar).

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