Courses & Degree Requirements

The MA in International Relations prepares students to face a wide range of global policy problems through a flexible, interdisciplinary program. Our program specializes in helping students bring academic rigor and theoretical insight to pressing policy challenges. Courses have a distinct focus aimed at providing a solid foundation in major aspects of international relations.

Thirty-six graduate credits are required to complete the MA in International Relations (MAIR) which can be accomplished in 2 years if you study full time (part-time study permitted). 

MAIR program at a glance (6 core courses, 4 electives and capstone/thesis):

Fall Year 1
(9 Credits)
Spring Year 1
(9 Credits)

Fall Year 2
(9 Credits)

Spring Year 2
(9 Credits)
  • INTREL 611: Theories and Concepts of International Relations (3 credits)
  • INTREL 613: International Relations Research Methods(3 credits)
  • INTREL 621: International Development (3 credits)
  • Capstone/Thesis Requirement: (6 credits)
  • INTREL: 691: Capstone Seminar and Paper OR  INTREL 699: Master’s Thesis
  • INTREL 612: Contemporary Issues in World Politics (3 credits)
  • INTREL 614: International Political Economy (3 credits)
  • INTREL 638: Global Governance (3 credits) 
  • First Elective (3 credits)
  • Second Elective (3 credits)
  •  Third Elective (3 credits)
  • Fourth Elective (3 credits)


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Elective Courses (3 credits each) 

Students take 4 electives (3 credits each) and are offered in a variety of fields meant to encourage study in an area of special interest. Typically electives should fulfill a regional or functional sub-specialization.

  • All courses offered by the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance can be counted towards elective requirements. See the course schedule on the resource tab for current offerings. 
  • Electives may also include independent study courses and internships (for which course credit is obtained as an independent study with the Graduate Program Director).
  • Graduate-level courses offered by any UMass Boston department related to their area of interest can count as electives; consultation and prior approval of Graduate Program Director required.

Example of electives:

Foreign Policy Analysis INTREL 635 This course will equip the student with the skills to apply foreign policy analysis to the real world based on a consideration of the various approaches to the study of the process of foreign policy, such as decision-making, Graham Allison's rational actor model, the organizational process and bureaucratic politics model, social psychology, the role of public opinion in foreign policy-making, comparative foreign policy, the pre-theory model of foreign policy, the role culture and identity in foreign policy making, and national role conception identity work. Students will analyze real world case studies utilizing these various approaches. Students will engage in intensive analysis of historically significant international crises. At the end of the course, students will engage in a role playing and simulation exercises based on a topical geopolitical situation.

Cross-Cultural Conflict CONRES 624 This course emphasizes the special characteristics of conflict based in religious, ethnic, national, or racial identity-conflicts that the field calls "intractable." The primary focus of the course is on intervention techniques that have been used and that have been proposed for use in these settings.

Negotiation CONRES 621  The course addresses the development of negotiation techniques and fosters student knowledge of the substantial body of negotiation theory.

Environmental Conflict and Peacemaking  This course explores environmental issues and resources as sources of and contributors to conflict, and as avenues and opportunities for conflict resolution and peacemaking. Research and concepts from multiple disciplines, many world regions and many environmental and resource challenges are included.

Israeli/Palestinian Conflict The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians has been called intractable and endless. Depending on how you measure, one can say it has been going on for up to 137 years. Why? Other serious religious, ethnic, nationalistic, territorial conflicts decline and end. Why does this one persist? But, historically all conflicts have ended. How might this one end? These are the questions this course will explore. The course will provide a picture, or several pictures, of how the conflict has unfolded, and will include deep dives into two occasions when major efforts were made to move toward peace.

International Conflict The post-Cold War international arena continues to reflect a state of insecurity as enduring conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain unresolved and new wars in the Arab world, Africa, and Asia threaten human security. Can international approaches to conflict management, resolution, and security provision bring peace to the world? In responding to this question, the course is an introduction to the study of war and peace, international and human security, and the theory and practice of contemporary conflict and conflict management around the world with special attention to Israel-Palestine, the UN Security Council and the Iraq war, and the African Union peace and security apparatus. Students participate in international conflict management simulation projects that help them connect the course content to the practical realities of peacemaking and peacebuilding.

The Capstone/Thesis Requirement

The Capstone/Thesis Requirement (students choose one) 

  • INTREL 691: Capstone in International Relations   Supervised by the capstone advisor, students complete a major research paper exploring a scholarly, policy-relevant theme in the field of international relations. Capstone projects do not require proposals prior to registering for the course.
  • INTREL 699: Master’s Thesis Supervised by a major advisor and thesis committee, students complete a major research project that makes a substantive contribution to critical understanding of a salient issue in contemporary international affairs. The thesis is expected to advance knowledge in the field of international relations and is publicly defended before a faculty committee. Students must defend a thesis proposal prior to registering for thesis credit.  Theses and thesis proposal rules can be found here and The University’s thesis rules, including deadlines, can be found here.

Summer Study

As a MAIR student, you can participate in our academically rich study abroad programs in Northern Ireland and Ecuador or online summer courses.  

Learn more about summer programs here.

Accelerated BA to MA in International Relations

Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Degree in International Relations

Exclusively for highly-qualified UMass Boston undergraduates in the College of Liberal Arts and Honors College, this unique program allows you to finish your master’s degree in approximately half the time and at half the cost of a traditional two-year master’s program.

Learn more about the accelerated degree program in international relations.

Take a Class

Get to know our international relations program by taking a single course. This will let you assess whether the content and structure of the program meet your goals and fits with your other commitments. These are 3-credit graduate-level courses and the credits can transfer to one of our programs (restrictions apply). You must have a bachelor's degree to enroll. 

Learn more about taking an international relations class as a non-degree student.