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    Jun 08, 2023  
American University Catalog 2020-2021 
American University Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

International Affairs (MA): International Economic Relations

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Offered by the School of International Service . International Economic Relations provides students with the range of analytical skills needed to understand international economic and financial problems in a policy setting. What distinguishes the program is its focus on specific international trade and financial policies and business transactions using analytical tools from economics, political science, business, and law. Students come to understand the fundamentals and peculiarities of trade in goods and services, and of cross-border capital flows, and study the processes by which private actors behave and government officials develop policies in the areas of international trade and finance.

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.

A Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is optional. Applicants who have completed the exam are welcome to submit their scores as part of their application. 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

  • 39-42 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA, including 18-21 credit hours in a major field including one theory course and one graduate-level economics or international economic policy course appropriate to the field, 9 credit hours in a related field selected from offerings in SIS or other teaching units of the university, 6 credit hours in research methods, 3 elective 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 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 (18-21 credit hours)

International Economic Relations or Political Economy

Complete 6 credit hours from the following, or other courses in international economic relations, or international political economy:

Social Science Research Methodology (6 credit hours)

Complete one of the following options:

Option I

Methods I

Complete 3 credit hours from the following, or approved first-level methods course:

Methods II

Complete 3 credit hours from the following, or approved second-level methods course:

Option II

Methods I

Complete 3 credit hours from the following, or approved first-level methods course:

Concentration (9 credit hours)

  • 9 credit hours of coursework approved by the student’s academic advisor from a related field or another major field in SIS. Students may design their own related field with approval of the academic advisor. Examples include:
    • Trade and Investment
    • Money and Finance
    • International Business
    • Law and Policy
    • Economic Development
    • Political Economy

Capstone (3 credit hours)

Complete one of the following:

Note: The thesis or substantial research paper must relate clearly to the field of international economic relations.


Substantial Research Paper

Complete 3 credit hours from one of the following, with grade of B or better:


Elective (3 credit hours)

  • 3 credit hours selected from skills workshops, internship for credit, master’s thesis requirement, or other elective courses

International Affairs (MA): International Economic Relations and Business Administration (MBA)

For approved dual degree program, see International Affairs (MA): International Economic Relations and Business Administration (MBA) .

International Affairs (MA) and Juris Doctor (JD)

For approved dual degree program, see International Affairs (MA) and Juris Doctor (JD) .

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