M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – International Studies

The Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) is a two-year, interdisciplinary Masters program designed to prepare students to think globally about a broad range of international issues while also developing deep knowledge of particular regions and states. The MAIS provides students with a great deal of flexibility to tailor their program to their specific interests and career goals in academia, business, civil society, and government. Students can use the MAIS both as a terminal degree or as preparation for further study (i.e. PhD in the social sciences or humanities, etc.). Students also have the option to concurrently pursue 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.

All graduate students participate in core courses that deal with a broad framework for the study of global issues and international institutions and research methods.  The graduate program requires proficiency in a modern foreign language.

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. The MAIS is housed within the Center for Global Studies, which supports the study of a broad range of global issues ranging from cybersecurity and refugee services through to disability inclusive development and addressing climate change. We also work with many other departments and area studies center and programs on campus.

– Stephen Meyers, Chair

GENERAL ADVISING

The Jackson School staff and faculty offer a variety of support and guidance to prospective and current students.

Professor Stephen Meyers is the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) for M.A.I.S. As the GPC, Dr. Meyers serves as the academic adviser for the program. Please meet with him at least once per year to review your course of study and request any necessary approvals required. After you have formed your supervisory committee in your second year, your committee chair also advises you. Please see the section titled supervisory committee for more information on your committee’s role, duties, and your responsibility to it.

Jesús Hidalgo is the Graduate Program Adviser (GPA) for the International Studies program. He will advise you regarding degree requirements, academic planning, policies and procedures, and graduation. Please meet with him at least once per year to ensure you are on track to graduate. >

The adviser-student relationship implies mutual responsibility. Faculty and staff advisers have office hours over Zoom and in person, where you can drop by to talk, and they may also be available by appointment at other times. Students are responsible for seeking out faculty and staff either during office hours or by making appointments. Please be proactive about your advising and ask early for the assistance that you need.

If you find yourself struggling academically, meet with the GPC or GPA to discuss your options.

Other advisers

  • Rita Bashaw (FLAS Manager): rbasha@uw.edu; THO 124. Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
  • Kian Flynn (Global Studies Librarian): flynnk7@uw.edu; Suzzallo Library. International Studies collections; Research
  • Phillip Shekleton (Center for Global Studies Managing Director): philross@uw.edu; THO 301A. Language Programs, Fellowships Opportunities
  • Peg Cheng (Assistant Director of Student Services): pcheng@uw.edu; THO 111A. Career Services; JSIS 497: Internship; Internship Scholarships; Alumni Relations
  • Office of Academic Services: jsisadv@uw.edu; THO 111. Registration; General Inquiries

M.A. DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Students receive the M.A. degree when they have fulfilled the following requirements:

  1. Complete curriculum requirements, including thirty-eight (38) credits of graduate level work (400-level classes and above, of which eighteen credits must be 500-level and above), not including language classes or thesis credits;
  2. Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above;
  3. Achieve second-year proficiency in research language;
  4. Take at least 10 credits in JSIS Area Studies courses and at least 5 in JSIS Thematic courses;
  5. Complete either a thesis or two article-length papers under faculty supervision;
  6. Pass the oral exam; and
  7. Comply with the rules and regulations of the UW Graduate School.

All degree requirements must be met within six years of the start of your program. This time limit includes leaves of absence. Under extraordinary circumstances this limit may be extended with the agreement of your GPC and GPA.

COURSE OF STUDY

A summary of the curriculum is provided below. A detailed description of the entire program curriculum, policies and procedures can be found in the International Studies handbook.

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) Review of the approaches to posing and answering research questions in the disciplines affiliated with international studies. Explores epistemological approaches and associated methodologies to prepare students to effectively read across the literature of international studies, develop their own research design based on a research question, and write a research proposal.

23-25 Elective credits: Students are required to complete at least eighteen (18) credits in two of the following three areas. Courses in these areas are selected from JSIS, UW departments, or UW professional schools.

  • At least TWO (2) Area Studies JSIS Courses (10cr): Africa; China; Comparative Religion; East Asia; Europe; Latin America; Near East; Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia; South Asia; and Southeast Asia are all regions students may focus on.
  • At least ONE (1) Thematic Global Studies JSIS Course (5cr): 1 JSIS Course related to topics such as Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Indigenous Politics, International Relations, Political Economy, Rights and Movements, etc.
  • Electives (8-10cr): Other graduate courses  related to your academic interests; could be taught at JSIS or in other Social Sciences departments. Up to 5 of these credits could be JSIS 600 (independent study).
  • Professional Courses (Optional): These courses consist of a maximum of three courses offered by a professional school that deal with international and comparative dimensions of the profession. Students pursuing a concurrent degree will automatically choose the Professional Course(s) as one of their specializations.

Advanced Methods (3-5 credits) Student must choose from an approved list of methods classes.

* If you decide to write a thesis, you have to add nine (9) extra 700-level credits to the min. 38 graduate credits you need to accumulate to finish the degree.

** If approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator, up to five (5) 400-level credits taken at the Jackson School as an undergraduate student can be counted towards the 38 graduate credits you have to accumulate for your M.A. degree.

CAPSTONE RESEARCH PAPER(S)

Students have the option of completing either a thesis or two separate research papers. Each student must form a supervisory committee to advise them during their work, and assess their completed work.

Thesis: This option is designed for students who wish to undertake a major research project that involves extensive use of primary sources. The thesis can be an expanded version of a seminar paper or an Independent Study project. If you are considering this option, you should consult with the GPC initially and then regularly with the members of your supervisory committee for guidance in both research and writing. Theses normally range between 40 and 70 pages.

You must register for at least nine JSIS 700: Master’s Thesis credits in order complete this option. Your supervisory committee chair generally supervises and submits grades for these credits. You can take them all in one quarter or spread out over several quarters.

Two research papers: If the two-paper option is selected, then one of the papers must be an original empirical analysis that is either aimed towards a scholarly audience or a policy audience. The second paper for the degree is also an original research paper that makes an argument and substantiates it with evidence.

Concurrent degree students may submit the written paper required through their professional degree program as their second paper. These papers must have sufficient international substance to qualify, as determined by the GPC.

ORAL EXAM

The final oral exam is based on the thesis or two research papers, any implications of your topic(s), and its relevance to global trends. All exams are different and you should ask your committee about your exam specifically. Below is an example of how the exam may be structured.

At the start of the exam, students are asked to step out of the exam room, while the committee members deliberate about the student’s candidacy and the line of questioning they will pursue. Students are expected to prepare a brief, five to ten minute, presentation about their research projects. Following these deliberations, committee members will ask the student questions for about forty-five to sixty minutes. The student will then leave the room while the committee deliberates on the results of the oral exam. Following their second deliberation, the chair will invite the student back to the exam room to inform them of the results of their exam.

You will take your oral exam with your supervisory committee during the quarter you intend to graduate.

Committee members may award distinction to students with outstanding performance in their written work (essay or two papers) as well as in their oral exam. The following two categories of distinction will be awarded to students for their overall body of work and with unanimous consent of all committee members.

  • High Pass: A High Pass will be awarded to students who (1) showed overall mastery of material in their thesis or, whose two papers exhibit a close to publishable quality; and (2) delivered an impressive performance during their oral exam that showed substantial theoretical and empirical knowledge of their fields of study.
  • Honors: Honors will be awarded to students who (1) showed excellent mastery of material in their thesis or, whose two papers are of publishable quality; and (2) delivered an outstanding performance during their oral exam that showed excellent and broadly situated theoretical as well as empirical knowledge of their respective fields of study in the context of international affairs.

PREREQUISITES & LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Language study is an essential part of the program. Students must demonstrate the equivalent of two years of proficiency in their primary research language either by exam or successful completion of coursework.

Students do not have to be proficient prior to entering the program and can complete the requirement during the M.A. program.

Language classes are offered through Asian Languages and Literature (Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese), Classics (Latin and Greek), Near Eastern Languages and Civilization (Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Aramaic, Coptic and Hebrew), the Department of Linguistics (American Sign Language), French and Italian Studies, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, and the Department of German Studies. The Jackson School offers Modern Greek, Thai, Burmese, and Khmer languages.

If you already have some language proficiency in your chosen languages but are uncertain about what level to take, contact the department offering the language for advice. Language taken at other institutions can be used to fulfill language requirements, provided it is recorded on a transcript. If you believe you are at or beyond the required language level but do not have a transcript to show this, you should arrange to take a proficiency exam through the appropriate department. Do this early before you start your first quarter in the program; if your exam results do not show the required proficiency, you will need time to take the appropriate coursework.

MODEL TIMELINE FOR COMPLETING IN TWO YEARS

This timeline is for students who have no prior training in a language. It is intended to be a guideline and model for courses taken as a full-time M.A. student, not a required path for all students. It is also different than the path concurrent students will take. This model includes JSIS 700 credits, required for students writing a thesis. If you are not writing a thesis, please fill these spots with other credits.

Year 1:

  • Autumn (15 credits: 10 graduate cr + 5 language cr):
    • Language Year 101 (5 cr)
    •  JSIS 501 (5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
  • Winter (15 credits: 10 graduate cred + 5 language cred):
    • Language Year 102 (5 cr)
    •  JSIS 511 (5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
  • Spring (13-15 credits: 8-10 graduate cr + 5 language cr):
    • Language Year 103 (5 cr)
    • Advanced Methods Course (3-5 cr)
    • Elective (JSIS or non-JSIS) (5 cr) (if Advanced Methods Course is 3 credits)

Year 2:

  • Autumn (15 credits: 10 graduate cr + 5 language cr):
    • Language Year 201 (5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
    • Elective
  • Winter (14 credits: 5 graduate cr + 5 language cr + 4 thesis cr):
    • Language Year 202 (5 cr)
    •  Elective (5 cr)
    • JSIS 700 (4 cr)
  • Spring (10 credits: 5 language cr + 5 thesis cr):
    • Language Year 203 (5 cr)
    • JSIS 700 (5 cr)

* If approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator, up to five (5) 400-level credits taken at the Jackson School as an undergraduate student can be counted towards the 38 graduate credits you have to accumulate for your M.A. degree.

MODEL TIMELINE FOR COMPLETING IN ONE YEAR

This timeline is for students who have prior training in a language. It is intended to be a guideline and model for courses taken as a full-time M.A. student, not a required path for all students. It is also different than the path concurrent students will take. This model does not include JSIS 700 credits, required for students writing a thesis.

  • Autumn (15 graduate credits):
    •  JSIS 501 (5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
    • Elective (JSIS or non-JSIS (5 cr)
  • Winter (10 graduate credits):
    •  JSIS 511 (5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
  • Spring (13-15 graduate credits):
    • Advanced Methods Course (3-5 cr)
    • JSIS Area Studies Course / JSIS Thematic Course (5 cr)
    • Elective (JSIS or non-JSIS) (5 cr)

* If approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator, up to five (5) 400-level credits taken at the Jackson School as an undergraduate student can be counted towards the 38 graduate credits you have to accumulate for your M.A. degree.

2024-2025 HANDBOOK

Our handbook serves as a compilation of UW and Jackson School resources for students and a reference guide containing the school’s academic requirements, deadlines, policies, and procedures. You are responsible for knowing and adhering to the contents of this handbook. Any questions about this handbook can be directed to the appropriate adviser as listed in the general advising section.

We encourage you to seek out and take full advantage of the opportunities all over the UW campus as well.

Information about advising, M.A. degree requirements, curriculum requirements, language requirement, capstone research paper(s), and timeline to finish the degree in 1 or 2 years is included above.

For other information, visit these webpages:

  1. Graduation Processes
  2. UW Academic Policies
  3. Tuition & Funding
  4. Concurrent Degrees
  5. Graduate Certificates
  6. Other Resources
  7. List of Approved Advanced Methods Courses

PREVIOUS HANDBOOKS

M.A. in International Studies Handbook 2023-24

M.A. in International Studies Handbook 2022-23

M.A. in International Studies Handbook 2021-22

HOW TO APPLY

Applications must be submitted by January 31 for admittance to the autumn quarter cohort. We only accept students into the M.A. program during autumn quarter.

You can find information about the application requirements and process on our website.

APPLY NOW

AFFILIATED CENTERS

The Jackson School houses 14 outreach centers. These centers provide opportunities for educators, students, and the community to learn about the world. Some of them have specific scholarship opportunities and other resources that may be useful.

Here are those you might find particularly useful:

International Policy Institute Center for Human Rights