Master of Arts in International Relations
The Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) at USD offers a 30-unit curriculum of comparative politics and international relations. The program is structured around academic and professional preparation for students interested in international careers. The academic core of the program consists of 1.5 to 3.0 unit seminars taught by accomplished faculty in various sub-fields of global affairs. The coursework is intellectually rigorous and emphasizes analytical, writing, and research skills as well as general international competence and sophistication. Research Design, Comparative Politics, International Relations Theory and the Capstone are required courses. The professional dimension of the program is developed in regular semester electives and in collaboration with other graduate programs at USD in the schools of law, business, and peace and justice. The international dimension of the program is reinforced by one to three week travel opportunities for credit through international courses, workshops, and conferences. The curriculum includes summer courses and can be comfortably completed in sixteen months by full-time students and in twelve months on fast track. Part-time students are accommodated by a schedule that convenes most seminars one evening per week and most workshops on weeknights or weekends. The department offers partial scholarships on the basis of academic merit; the university also offers a significant amount of loans and grants including a 15 per cent tuition discount for the military community. The program concludes with a capstone paper and conference format presentation. Graduates from the program have moved into careers in the military, in government (especially in intelligence, law enforcement and diplomacy), in the nonprofit and private sectors and in higher education, including PhD programs. USD is nationally ranked and recognized for its international excellence; the MAIR program is among its several successful and innovative programs.
Scholarships and Grants
The Political Science department normally awards a small number of non-renewable scholarships to students in the MAIR program. The Dean’s Merit scholarships generally range from $5,000 to $10,000 and the Irving Salomon Awards generally range from $300 to $500. Both are awarded based on academic achievement and promise. Continuing students are evaluated based on their performance in the program and the rigor of their chosen coursework. Entering students are evaluated based on the overall quality of their admission application. Prospective students whose application packet is not complete by the priority deadlines (March 1 for fall, October 1 for spring) will normally not be considered for merit awards in their first semester. Entering students will be notified of scholarship awards with their letters of admission. Continuing students are generally notified of their awards before the beginning of the semester. Many USD graduate students in the College receive “graduate grants” of $325 per unit (for a total of up to $10,000 for the 30 unit program) as long as they have completed a FAFSA, are enrolled in at least six units per semester; and determined to be eligible by the USD financial aid office. All military students both active duty and retired are automatically awarded scholarships of around $200 per unit (15% of tuition), no matter what their course load.
Requirements for Admission
Master of Arts in International Relations
See here for basic admission requirements.
|Entrance Semesters||Fall, January, Spring, Summer|
|Application Deadlines||Applications are considered on a rolling basis throughout the year. However, to guarantee consideration for scholarships, applications must be received before March 1 for fall or October 1 for spring enrollment. Minimum Grade Point Average is normally 3.2 (4.0 scale)|
|Admission Tests||All applicants are required to take the GRE—other examinations cannot be substituted. Minimum GRE scores of 50 to 60 per cent ranking on the verbal section, 40 to 50 per cent ranking on the quantitative section, and 50 per cent ranking or 4.0 on the analytical section are expected. International applicants are normally required to take the TOEFL exam as well. A minimum score of 90 is expected.|
|Undergraduate Coursework||Some coursework in political science, economics, history, and international relations is normally expected.|
|Required Licenses or Credentials||None|
|Additional Requirements||Career experience relevant to international affairs is not required but can be an important element in an application package offsetting weaknesses in other parts of an applicant’s portfolio.|
Requirements for the Degree
- Approval of courses by graduate director for all 30 units.
- At least 24 units of political science at the 500-level, including
Course List Code Title Hours POLS 535 Research Design 1.5 POLS 550 Comparative Politics 3 POLS 570 Theories in International Relations 3 POLS 595 MAIR Capstone Seminar 3
- Up to six units of relevant courses can be chosen from among undergraduate political science, peace and justice studies, economics, history, business administration, or law. Up to six units of graduate coursework in international relations can be transferred from another university.
- Only one course with a grade of “C+”, “C”, or “C-” may count toward the degree. No courses with a grade of “D” or “F” will count toward the degree (although all grades are calculated in the GPA.)
POLS 529 | LAW OF THE SEA
This course examines regimes of the sea including fisheries, seabed mining, and coastal management zones. The politics of ocean regulation will be examined with emphasis on the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. The seminar will consider Law-of-the-Sea negotiations from three perspectives: 1) the development of international law; 2) the processes of international bargaining and negotiation; and 3) the decision-making processes associated with the formulation of maritime policies in individual countries.
POLS 530 | RESEARCH METHODS
This seminar helps students to formulate empirical research questions and introduces basic research strategies to answer them. Through hands-on experience, students learn to develop theories and to test them using basic research designs and uni- and multivariate analyses. In the end, students should be able to conduct and to critically evaluate basic research in the field.
POLS 535 | RESEARCH DESIGN
This course is a brief introduction to the principles of research design and analysis in the field of political science and international relations. The course discusses the nature of the scholarly community, the development of middle range theories and hypotheses, conceptualizing and operationalizing variables, and testing hypotheses.
POLS 550 | COMPARATIVE POLITICS
This course examines the major theoretical approaches to comparative politics as well as the political histories of individual countries. It is designed to introduce students to a variety of themes central to this field, including state-society relations, state capacity, the role of institutions, nationalism, cultural/ethnic pluralism, political culture, and democracy. This course is a degree requirement.
POLS 554 | REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE
This course offers a comparative study of the revolutionary process focusing on the causes and political implications of revolutionary change. The conditions that influence the outcome of revolutions and the effects on the international system will be examined.
POLS 555 | POLITICS IN WESTERN EUROPE
This course surveys the political cultures, institutions, and parties of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Foreign and defense policies, including those relating to European integration, will receive special attention.
POLS 557 | POLITICS IN LATIN AMERICA
This course uses a variety of theories to examine the dynamics of political and economic change in Latin America. Particular emphasis is placed on the causes and consequences of cyclical economic development and recurrent waves of democratization and authoritarianism.
POLS 559 | POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
This course explores political developments in the Middle East with particular attention to the contemporary era.
POLS 560 | POLITICS OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
This course provides an in-depth analysis of political development in sub-Saharan Africa. It is designed to introduce students to the challenges African states have faced during the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial eras. Particular emphasis is placed on how different countries have sought to develop strong institutions, democratic processes, and national integration in the context of scarce resources and civil conflict.
POLS 561 | POLITICS IN SOUTH AFRICA
This course examines the major issues and challenges that face South Africa. The goal of the course is to introduce students to contemporary South African politics and to place the current political challenges into the broader historical context.
POLS 565 | POLITICS IN RUSSIA
This course offers an examination of the political institutions and forces of change in Russia and the Soviet successor states with particular attention to the difficulties of democratization, modernization, and capitalist transformation.
POLS 566 | POLITICS IN MEXICO
This course examines the trajectory of political development in Mexico from the twentieth century to the present. We will examine the Mexican revolution, the origins of the dominant party system, the transition to democracy and current prospects for democratic and economic stability.
POLS 567 | POLITICS IN JAPAN
This class studies post-war politics in Japan focusing on political institutions, major political actors, and mass and elite political behavior. Special attention is paid to issues of modernization, the evolution of Japanese political practices and Japan’s changing democracy.
POLS 568 | POLITICS IN CHINA
This course offers an examination of politics and selected policy issues in contemporary China including political institutions, the policy-making process, and citizen political behavior. Special attention is given to prospects for political reform in China.
POLS 570 | THEORIES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
This core course provides an examination of realist, neorealist, neoliberal, globalist, constructivist, and normative theories of international relations and an inquiry into the relationship between theory and historical evidence. This course is a degree requirement.
POLS 571 | AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
This class offers an examination of the challenges and opportunities facing American foreign policy in the 21st century, the institutional context of foreign policy decision-making, and the application of theories of international politics and foreign policy to the empirical analysis of contemporary American foreign policy.
POLS 572 | RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY
This course explores foreign policy in the U.S.S.R. and its successor states focusing on competing institutions within the foreign policy establishments, changing security preoccupations, and the difficulties of realigning regional and global relationships in a structurally changed international system.
POLS 573 | CHINESE FOREIGN POLICY
This course offers an analysis of the foreign policy of the People's Republic of China. Foreign policy-making and China's relations with other international actors will be examined.
POLS 574 | U.S.-LATIN AMERICA RELATIONS
This course provides an analysis of historical and contemporary relations between the U.S. and Latin America. Policy issues examined include trade, immigration, drug trafficking, military intervention, and relations with Cuba.
POLS 575 | AMERICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
This course examines the influences and interests that shape American foreign policy toward the Middle East. Rooted in the study of international relations and foreign policy decision-making, the course critically examines the past, present, and future of relations between the U.S. and this contested and dynamic region.
POLS 576 | U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY
This course examines contemporary U.S. security policy, including military technology, nuclear strategy and arms control, recent U.S. military interventions, biological and chemical weapons, domestic security politics , the defense industry and budget, and terrorism.
POLS 577 | REGIONAL SECURITY
This course examines security dynamics in four important regions of the world: West Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and the Islamic countries running from Northwest Africa to Southeast Asia. We address issues like military technology, war, diplomatic relations within the region, political economy, drug trafficking, and terrorism, among others.
POLS 578 | TRANSNATIONAL CRIME AND TERRORISM
This course focuses on how the law enforcement community has responded to the unprecedented increase in crimes and terrorist acts that cross international borders. The course examines those factors that have led to this increase in transnational crime and terrorism, the types of crimes that pose the greatest threat to lawful societies, the responses that have been developed to combat transnational crime, and the extent to which transnational crime threatens the national security interests of the United States and the world community.
POLS 579 | BORDER POLITICS AND POLICY
This course provides an examination of U.S.-Mexican border politics and related policies, including trade, economic development, migration, law enforcement and security, and international diplomacy. This course will also consider comparative border dynamics of other regions, such as U.S.-Canada, China-Russia, Spain-Morocco, and the European Union.
POLS 580 | INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMICS
This course examines the international and national political strategies affecting economic growth and global distribution of wealth.
POLS 582 | INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
This course considers theoretical foundations, historical development, and applications of human rights in differing parts of the world. The seminar will focus on contending approaches to human rights.
POLS 583 | INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
This course offers an examination of the development of contemporary intergovernmental political organizations with emphasis on the United Nations system and the functional agencies. The future of supranationalism will be investigated with particular attention to the European Communities.
POLS 584 | INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE
This course examines the policy decisions that determine human responses to environmental challenges. We begin by exploring three foundational topics: environmental ideologies, the global commons, and natural resources valuation. We then apply these core concepts to environmental sectors, such as climate change, sustainable development, marine resources management, environmental negotiations, and conservation.
POLS 586 | POLITICS OF INTELLIGENCE
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the history and institutional structure of the US intelligence community, the intelligence production cycle, how intelligence contributes to policymakers, how intelligence agencies are managed and controlled, the ethical debate about intelligence activities, current intelligence issues facing US policy makers, and counterintelligence concerns.
POLS 587 | SPECIAL TOPICS IN INTELLIGENCE
Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)
This course is focused primarily on US covert action. Covert action refers to the effort by a government to influence events, conditions, attitudes, or behavior in ways that cannot be attributed to the sponsor. Students are exposed to the nature and principles of covert action, how it is employed to achieve national security objectives, and its capabilities and limitations.
POLS 594 | SPECIAL TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)
A current issue or topic in the discipline will be the focus of the course. The course can be repeated if the topic changes.
POLS 595 | MAIR CAPSTONE SEMINAR
Units: 3 Repeatability: No
The Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) program at the University of San Diego hosts a capstone seminar for its graduating students to prepare and present a major research project. This capstone seminar is designed to allow students to integrate the knowledge obtained from their course of study in the program and apply that knowledge to the analysis of contemporary issues in international relations. Research topics are determined by the students in consultation with the capstone instructor and other faculty members who serve as external advisors on the student’s project. Students present their work at a formal symposium that is open to the public. The final paper and presentation produced for this seminar allow students to fulfill the main learning objectives of the MAIR program, and help to orient them towards a career in international affairs. Students must have completed at least 21 units prior to enrollment in the MAIR Capstone Seminar.
POLS 596 | SHORT COURSE IN IR: SPECIAL TOPICS
Units: 1.5 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)
Short courses come in different formats and schedules, including academic seminars, professional workshops, and short travel courses. They allow the department to offer courses on topics and/or on schedules that would not be suitable for three units and they give students greater options and more flexibility in load management and scheduling. 596 courses can be repeated for credit provided the topics are different.
POLS 598 | INTERNSHIP IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Students can receive credit for internships with the government, nongovernment agencies, corporations, and other suitable entities involved in international relations. Students are required to have a writing component in the internship. Students must have completed at least 15 units in the program and have an overall GPA of 3.33 to request an internship for credit. Internships for credit must be approved by the graduate director.
POLS 599 | INDEPENDENT STUDY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Directed research can be conducted under the supervision of one of the permanent graduate faculty members in the Department. Students must have completed 15 units in the program and have an overall GPA of 3.5. Project proposals must be approved by a faculty sponsor and the graduate director.
Vidya Nadkarni, PhD, CHAIR, PROFESSOR, International Relations Theory, American Foreign Policy, Politics in Russia
David Shirk, PhD, GRADUATE DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Comparative Politics, International Political Economy, Politics of Latin America, U.S.-Latin American Relations, Politics in Mexico, Transnational Crime and Terrorism
Del Dickson, PhD, JD, PROFESSOR, Comparative and International Law
Casey B.K. Dominguez, PhD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, American Politics, Research Design
Emily Edmonds-Poli, PhD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Politics in Latin America, U.S.-Latin American Relations, Politics in Mexico
Timothy McCarty, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Political Theory
Noelle Norton, PhD, PROFESSOR, American Politics, Gender Politics
Lee Ann Otto, PhD, PROFESSOR, Politics in Japan, Politics in China, Revolutionary Change
Michael R. Pfau, PhD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Politics in Germany, Research Design
Avi Spiegel, PhD, JD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Politics in the Middle East, U.S.-Middle East Relations
Andrew Tirrell, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Environmental Politics
J. Michael Williams, PhD, JD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Comparative Politics, Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa, Politics in South Africa
Randy Willoughby, PhD, PROFESSOR, U.S. National Security, Regional Security, European Politics