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    Jul 17, 2024  
American University Catalog 2023-2024 
    
American University Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

International Affairs (MA): Comparative and Regional Studies


Offered by the School of International Service , the Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS) program prepares students to be regional experts who understand key global issues through comparative analysis across regions and countries. Unlike traditional regional studies, CRS combines study of the comparative method with regional expertise. In this way, CRS regional concentrations serve as laboratories for knowledge, allowing students to draw lessons from experiences within a region to inform their understanding of the local context and, importantly, of how and why the local context shapes outcomes of global interest.

Admission to the Program


Applicants must hold an earned bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited by one of the six United States regional accreditation agencies or a degree equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree from an international institution with a similar level of accreditation or recognition by its home country. Assessment of a foreign degree will be based upon the characteristics of the national system of education, the type of institution attended, its accreditation, and the level of studies completed.

​​​​​​​Competitive candidates may demonstrate their potential to excel in diverse ways, including a strong academic record, demonstrated success in relevant coursework and/or professional experience, the presentation of a compelling motivation and objective for graduate work, or a combination of some of these factors.

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.

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 credit hours of approved graduate work
  • Minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA required to remain in good academic standing and to earn the degree
  • 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 regional concentration must be certified
  • Capstone Experience: Completion of graduate work that clearly relates to the field of Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS) via one of the following:
    • Practicum: 3 credit hours, with grade of B or better
    • Substantial Research Paper: 3 credit hours, with grade of B or better
    • Thesis: 3-6 credit hours and submission of the thesis

Course Requirements


Core (18 credit hours)


Regional Concentration


  • 9 credit hours of coursework from a regional concentration: Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Middle East, or Islamic Studies
  • 3 credit hours from coursework covering a single thematic subject across two regions, one of which is the student’s primary regional concentration

Research Methods (6 credit hours)


Methods II


  • 3 credit hours from approved methodology coursework appropriate to the student’s research and career interests

Thematic Concentration (9 credit hours)


Complete 9 credit hours from courses identified by the CRS faculty as part of one of the five CRS concentrations, or self-designed concentration:

  • Conflict and Conflict Resolution
  • Foreign Policy and Security
  • Governance and Democracy
  • Nationalism, Identity, and Ideology
  • Political Economy and Development
  • Self-Designed concentration approved by the student’s advisor making up an academically-sound and coherent area of study defined by a central concept and focused on a student’s particular area of interest

International Affairs (MA): Comparative and Regional Studies and Business Administration (MBA)


For approved dual degree program, see International Affairs (MA): Comparative and Regional Studies and Business Administration (MBA) .

International Affairs (MA) and Juris Doctor (JD)


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