International Relations Online requires 39 credit hours to complete. Students who have previously completed approved introductory macro- and microeconomics coursework will be eligible to forego 3 credit hours and complete the program in 36 credit hours.
Students also have the opportunity to supplement their studies by taking courses from other online graduate programs delivered by several top-tier colleges and universities. You can learn more about cross-university courses here.
Core Courses (9 credit hours)
International Studies: History, Theory, Practice (SISG-760)
As befits the complexity of the realm it investigates, international studies is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary field, characterized more by recurrent debates and disagreements than by broadly consensual knowledge. This course begins by introducing three key controversies in the field—whether international politics is inevitably the domain of coercive force, whether actors on the international stage act based on interests or on ideas, and whether the international environment is relatively immutable or is amenable to more or less deliberate efforts to change it—and then exploring how those controversies inform a variety of historical cases and contemporary issues. The focus throughout the course is on making explicit the principles and perspectives underlying different and divergent views of international relations, including the principles and perspectives brought to the course by the students themselves.
Intercultural Communication (SISG-761)
This interdisciplinary course examines the interaction of people across cultures and considers such topics as cross-cultural communication, management and adaptation, intercultural negotiation, and how culture impacts conflict between individuals, cultures, and nations. The primary goal is to provide students with concepts, knowledge, and skills that will allow them to analyze and interpret the dynamics of any cross-cultural interaction or conflict. At the end of course, students will be able to:
- Define intercultural communication as a field of inquiry within international relations
- Identify and understand the contributions of major scholars in the field
- Understand the dynamics of intercultural communication at the interpersonal, national and international levels
- Apply concepts of the field to analyze and interpret case examples of intercultural conflict
- Explain how culture impacts cross-cultural adaptation and negotiation
- Consider how cultural aspects of national identity perpetuates international conflict and shapes foreign policy
Global Governance (SISG-762)
For centuries, mankind has struggled to find ways to organize international life and restrain the chaos and conflict that have so often plagued it. The increasing destructiveness of warfare and the accelerating pace of economic globalization have made that quest more urgent. But the search for structures to govern the world has always encountered forces that push in the other direction. The desire for uninhibited national sovereignty has been a consistent check on movements for global governance. As daunting have been simple coordination problems. What mission should international organizations have? Who should control them and to whom are they responsible? How should they be funded?
Today there exists a group of powerful but incomplete and often flawed institutions, including the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the International Criminal Court, the European Union, the African Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Other less formal global governance initiatives have also emerged as important factors. Understanding the complex interactions between these initiatives and national governments and individuals is essential to understanding contemporary world politics.
Economics (3-6 credit hours)
International Economics (SISG-764)
How do countries exchange wealth in a world with hundreds of currencies? How do we know whether one country is richer or poorer than another? Why do countries trade? What are the effects of trade? This course provides students with the tools and insights that economists have developed over the years to answer these and many other questions about trade and monetary relations among open economies. It also explores the range of policy choices and the impact of those choices on people, countries, and the global economy.
Introduction to Economic Theory (SISG-773)
Introduction to fundamental principles of modern economic theory, including the major analytical tools of price and income theory. Includes foundational concepts of both microeconomics and macroeconomics.
Methods and Analysis (6 credit hours)
Quantitative Methods: Research Design & Statistical Analysis (SISG-763)
This course introduces students to the core competencies of research design, data collection, data management, and statistical analysis. Students will learn how to design and conduct independent, original, and quantitatively oriented research on topics relevant to the study and practice of international relations. In addition, the course will provide students with a robust working knowledge of SPSS, one of the most widely used software packages in the social sciences. Perhaps most importantly, this course will enable students to apply the logic of statistical analysis beyond the classroom and to become informed consumers of the quantitatively oriented analyses that they will encounter in both their personal and professional lives.
Planning, Forecasting, and Decision Making (SIS-750)
Strategy and Forecasting is a multidisciplinary method of problem solving. This course teaches students the theoretical and practical foundations of this craft through exploring its application to national security and strategy. The course seeks to provide students with the tools they need to deconstruct and analyze security problems and apply what they have learned over the course of their studies and professional careers to construct an array of potential solutions. To this end, the course problematizes rationality, bureaucratic interests, and other sources of bias in the decision making process in order to help students evaluate alternative policy options.
Project Design, Monitoring & Evaluation (SIS-750)
This course introduces the six phases of a project cycle, and is designed to build and/or strengthen an individual’s knowledge, methods, and skills to (1) design a development, governance, or post-conflict project for a specific population, and (2) develop a project monitoring and evaluation plan for (a) ensuring project efficiency and (b) measuring project effectiveness. Tools learned and practiced include: Problem/Objectives Analysis; Theories of Change; Needs Assessments; Logical Frameworks; Indicator Protocol Sheets; Data Collection Toolkits; Means of Verification; and Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Report (MERL) Plan.
Concentration (9 credit hours)
Electives (6 credit hours)
6 credit hours of elective coursework in a different concentration.
Capstone (3 credit hours)
Taken in a student’s final semester, the capstone experience blends professional skills training with an applied policy or research project that bridges theory and practice. Learn more about the capstone here.
Proficiency in a Modern Foreign Language
DC Immersion (1 credit hour)
The intensive, in-person immersion experience at American University in Washington, DC will allow students to take advantage of SIS’s deep connections in the diplomatic and policy communities, meet other students in the online program, and meet SIS faculty members in person. The immersion is a required component for all IROnline students.