Apr 23, 2018  
American University Catalog 2017-2018 
American University Catalog 2017-2018

International Affairs (MA): Natural Resources and Sustainable Development

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Offered by the School of International Service . The Natural Resources and Sustainable Development concentration is available only through the exchange program with United Nations-affiliated University for Peace, Costa Rica. Students study at and receive degrees from both American University and the University for Peace. The program equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary for managing eco-development issues in a global context and provides them with opportunities to establish ties that bridge the North-South divide. These qualities aid graduates to formulate policies to advance sustainable development at the local, regional, and global levels, to facilitate international cooperation in the design of sustainable development and environment policy, and to generate strategies for environmental conflict management.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least a B+ (3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale) and should have had at least 24 credit hours of social science coursework relevant to international studies. Students who do not meet these minimum requirements, if otherwise admissible, may be assigned additional coursework in excess of degree requirements specified at the time of admission.

The application deadline for fall admission is January 15; for spring admission October 1 (September 15 for international students). Admitted students may defer matriculation for no longer than two semesters provided that a written request for deferment is submitted to and approved by the SIS Graduate Admissions Office.

All applicants whose native language is English or those whose degrees are from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English are required to submit results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Non-native English speakers are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a U.S.-accredited institution before enrollment at SIS. The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 100 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 600 on the paper-based test (PBT). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. LSAT scores will be accepted in place of the GRE for JD/MA applicants. Fall applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December to ensure full consideration of the application by the January deadline.

All applicants must submit two letters of reference evaluating undergraduate academic performance and suitability for graduate study in international affairs, at least one of which should be from an academic source. A resume should be included in the application. Applicants must submit transcripts from all institutions attended. Cultural factors are considered in evaluating transcripts and examination results.

Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions to be applied to a master's degree must be completed in the student's first semester in the graduate program at American University. A minimum grade of B in each course is required for transfer. Transfer courses must have been completed within five years of admission and must fulfill stated requirements of the degree program.

Degree Requirements

  • 42 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, including two theory courses and one economics course appropriate to the field, 9 credit hours selected from offerings in SIS or other teaching units of the university, 3 credit hours in research methods, 3 professional skills credit hours, and a 3 credit hour capstone experience
  • Capstone experience: demonstration of critical thinking, research and writing skills through completion of a master's thesis, substantial research paper requirement, or practicum. All courses taken to fulfill this requirement must be passed with a grade of B or better
    • Thesis: 6 credit hours of thesis credit and submission of the thesis

    • Substantial research paper requirement: 3 credit hours

    • Practicum: 3 credit hours

  • Evidence of professional experience in the field: Relevant internship or work experience must be certified

  • Proficiency in a modern foreign language: Research competence in English and another language relevant to the student's career objectives must be certified

Course Requirements

Core (9 credit hours)

Theory: Additional

Complete 3 credit hours from the following:


Complete 3 credit hours from the following:

Professional Skills (3 credit hours)

Complete 3 credit hours from one of the following:

AU-University for Peace Exchange (18 credit hours)

SIS or AU Electives (9 credit hours)

  • 9 credit hours of additional approved SIS or other American University graduate courses

Capstone Experience (3 credit hours)

Note: The thesis or substantial research paper must relate clearly to the field of natural resources and sustainable development.

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