Master of Arts in International Relations

The mission of our M.A. graduate program is to prepare graduate students to enter a competitive workforce in government, business and non-profits or to pursue advanced graduate training leading to a Ph.D. in the International Relations field.

The Master’s degree program is focused on training our students to be international professionals. Admission is selective and retention, conditional upon performance. Our curriculum emphasizes the coordination of theory and data. Many courses in the curriculum study specific areas of the world from diverse theoretical, historical and contemporary perspectives.

Classroom instruction emphasizes knowledge of core International Relations concepts and theories as well as thematic issues, including but not limited to international political economy, international security, international law, governance and human rights. For graduate students choosing the professional emphasis for their culminating experience, the department provides resources toward internship opportunities and supervises the preparation of an academic paper based on their internship experiences.

Upon graduation, IR students will have achieved mastery of core International Relations concepts, theories, and methods and will have one or more areas of special competence. Equipped with research, analytical and presentation, communication and professional skills, including report writing, data analysis, public policy analysis, oral briefing and audio-visual production techniques, our M.A. student graduate ready for the next step in their careers.

View the SF State Bulletin M.A. in IR page for additional information.

Funding Assistance

The department is not able to offer tuition waivers or GTA positions.  We do offer some limited scholarships for continuing students, which can be found on AcademicWorks.

Graduate Coordinator

Anyone with questions about our program is encouraged to contact our Graduate Coordinator, Professor Amy Skonieczny, via email at askonie@sfsu.edu.

blue eagle sphere with stars over rainforest background

Artwork by Ilze Raphaella Macedo

Applications are only accepted for Fall semester. The deadline for Fall 2022 is March 15, 2022 (Extended to Mar. 30th!).

Applying to the Program

Graduate applications to SF State are reviewed through a two-step process.

First, the Division of Graduate Studies reviews applications to ensure they meet the general university admission requirements. The Graduate Studies website provides further information on these requirements as they pertain to domestic and international applicants.

Second, the Department of International Relations reviews applications for program specific eligibility. Further information about departmental admission criteria is available in the section below.

Cal State Apply streamlines this two-step review process, allowing applicants to complete one online application that is sent to the Division of Graduate Studies and then, following approval, to the department.

Through Cal State Apply, applicants complete an online application form and upload supplemental materials for review by the Division of Graduate Studies and the department. More information about this process is available below.

The International Relations Masters program begins accepting applications in October, and starts reviewing them the following February for fall admission in the same year. To assure full consideration, applicants should submit materials by March 30, 2022. If you miss the deadline, please email the graduate coordinator at askonie@sfsu.edu.

Admission Criteria—Department of International Relations

To receive serious consideration, applicants will have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with relevant course work and a grade point average of at least 3.3 (out of 4.0) in the last 60 units of undergraduate study. Students below the 3.3 GPA standard are unlikely to receive serious consideration unless the other elements of their application portfolio are quite strong. Students with a less than 3.0 GPA will not receive consideration because they do not meet University requirements.

Ideally, applicants also will have several upper division courses in international relations. Applicants are looked on favorably if they have skills in statistics, computer applications, media production, foreign languages or international experience.

The department recommends (but does not require) GRE scores to be submitted with the application. If GRE scores are available, scores above median in verbal and analytical sections of the GRE and at least median in the quantitative section will enhance the success of the application. Where relevant, students should meet minimum English Language Proficiency requirements.

The graduate coordinator may require successful applicants to supplement their background in international relations with coursework, readings and/or essays prior to or during their first year in the program. In such instances, applicants will be admitted to the program with conditionally classified standing.

Accessing the Application Via Cal State Apply

All CSU applications are now submitted and paid for using Cal State Apply, which provides step-by-step instructions throughout the process as well as a Cal State Apply PDF guide.

Applications for:

Providing Supplemental Materials

The department also requires applicants to submit supplemental materials through Cal State Apply. You must upload materials by March 30, 2022 in order to ensure full consideration for admission in the fall semester.

Note: We only accept applications in the spring for the following fall semester. We do not retain old application files, so you will need to submit entirely new materials if you reapply.

Required materials:

  1. An unofficial transcript from all programs attended. Note: An official transcript will be required upon acceptance.
     
  2. The names and email addresses of three recommenders who can comment on your abilities, achievements, and likelihood of success in a Master's program. Use Cal State Apply’s Program Evaluation feature to request and manage letters of recommendation. Note: We desire at least two letters from former instructors who are knowledgeable about your academic skills and potential.
     
  3. A personal statement offering your reasons for embarking on graduate study in international relations, your reasons for selecting our program, your theoretical, functional, or geographic interests, and resume type information. Your personal statement should not exceed 1,000 words.
     
  4. A research paper in English on a social science topic (1,500 to 9,000 words). If you do not have such a paper in English, please submit a short essay (1,500 words or less) on an international issue of your choice with adequate citations.
     
  5. GRE scores (recommended). Please check with ETS for the latest school code information.
     
  6. TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores (required for students whose undergraduate degree was obtained in a language other than English). Foreign students also are encouraged to provide results for the TOEFL listening test or equivalent as well. Please check with ETS for the latest school code information.

Information for Admitted Students

If you decide to attend SF State after being admitted, you need to inform the university and us of your intent to register. Within two weeks of receiving your letter of admission to the university, you must notify the university by following the instructions on the future students section of the SF State website. You also should inform the graduate coordinator by sending an email to askonie@sfsu.edu.

After taking care of your tuition and fees, please register for class on MySFSU.

 

If you have any questions about application materials or the application process, please feel free to send an email to askonie@sfsu.edu.

The graduate program for International Relations is made up of two components: the core requirements and the emphasis. In addition to the core requirements, students must choose and complete either the academic emphasis or the professional emphasis. Only one emphasis is required.

Core Requirements

  • I R 720 Theory and Approaches in International Relations, 3 units 
  • I R 725 The Analysis of Foreign Policy, 3 units
  • I R 728 International Political Economy, 3 units
  • I R 730 – I R 739 The International System and Its Problems series (select 1 course), 3 units
  • I R 740 – I R 749 Comparative Foreign Policies series (select 1 course), 3 units
  • I R 730 – I R 749 Elective (select 1 course), 3 units

Total for core 18 units

Academic Emphasis

  • I R 750 Methods and Thesis Selection in International Relations, 3 units 
  • I R 751 or equivalent Alternative Research Methods in International Relations, 3-4 units 
  • Electives Coursework in International Relations or related disciplines, 6 units 
  • I R 898 Master’s Thesis, 3 units 

Minimum total for emphasis requirements 15-16

Combined minimum total for core and emphasis requirements 33-34

Professional Emphasis

  • Electives: Thematic combination of courses in fields of inquiry and training, such as Public Administration; International Business, Management or Finance; International Development; International Environmental Studies; or other fields related to international careers. Approval of graduate advisor required, 9 units
  • I R 750 Methods and Thesis Selection in International Relations, 3 units
  • I R 892 Graduate Internship in International Relations 3, units 

Minimum total for emphasis requirements 15

Combined minimum total for core and emphasis requirements 33

 

 

Students enrolled prior to Fall 2014

Core Requirements

  • I R 720 Theory and Approaches in International Relations, 3 units
  • I R 725 The Analysis of Foreign Policy, 3 units
  • I R 728 International Political Economy, 3 units
  • I R 730 – I R 739, I R 760 The International System and Its Problems series (select 1 course), 3 units 
  • I R 740 – I R 749 Comparative Foreign Policies series (select 1 course), 3 units
  • I R 730 – I R 749, I R 760 Elective (select 1 course), 3 units 

Total for core 18

Academic Emphasis

  • I R 750 Methods and Thesis Selection in International Relations, 3 units 
  • I R 751 or equivalent Alternative Research Methods in International Relations, 3-4 units 
  • Electives Coursework in International Relations or related disciplines, 6 units
  • I R 898 Master’s Thesis, 3 units 

Minimum total for emphasis requirements 15-16

Combined minimum total for core and emphasis requirements 33-34

Professional Emphasis

  • Electives: Thematic combination of courses in fields of inquiry and training, such as Public Administration; International Business, Management or Finance; International Development; International Environmental Studies; or other fields related to international careers. Approval of graduate advisor required, 12 units
  • I R 892 Graduate Internship in International Relations, 3 units 

Minimum total for emphasis requirements 15

Combined minimum total for core and emphasis requirements 33

Sources of Advice

There are two sources of International Relations (IR) Department advising for graduate students: (a) the graduate coordinator; and (b) IR faculty.

(a) The graduate coordinator can help students with general course and career planning, M.A. program planning, department formalities (e.g., proposal for a culminating experience, Graduate Approved Program (GAP) substitutions or revisions, or course transfer evaluations), study abroad and university rules and regulations and petitions.

(b) IR faculty can provide students with course and career advising. Their value added is that they can give guidance in the specific regional and thematic areas that interest students. In addition, they can aid students in building the network and portfolio which will help them pursue their longer-term career/intellectual goals. IR faculty also are an essential part of the supervising committee for culminating experience projects and will support students’ efforts to develop and execute their culminating experience projects. Given the importance of IR faculty as advisors, students are strongly encouraged to develop an informal mentoring relationship with one or more faculty soon after their first semester in the program.

Our Advisors

View our advisors and their availability.

Advising Timeline

Every semester: It is to the advantage of students to communicate with the graduate coordinator and/or a faculty advisor at least once a semester about their course and program plans.

Ready to file your Advancement to Candidacy/GAP: Communicate with both the graduate coordinator and a faculty member when you are ready to file your GAP. Towards the end of the second semester in the program (and definitely prior to their third semester), most students should consider filing their GAP.

Communication Forms

We recognize that many of our students work and cannot meet face-to-face. The graduate coordinator and faculty are always ready to communicate with our students via email or remotely as needed!

Visit the Division of Graduate Studies page for additional information.

Students, need additional advising help? Please visit the Advising Resource Center (ARC) online for more information.

  1. Students should acquire a good understanding of international relations theories and their applications in the world.
     
  2. Students should be able to examine the role of state and non-state actors on the global stage and critically approach contemporary schools of thought in International relations.
     
  3. Students should be able to develop skills and experience to engage in a variety of sectors: public, private, academic and nonprofit.
     
  4. Students should be able to generate research questions and systematically use theory and evidence to address these questions.
     
  5. Students should be able to conduct research using primary and secondary sources to deepen their understanding of a global issue.
     
  6. Students should be able to follow the disciplinary conventions of writing and analysis in international relations.
     
  7. Student writing should show evidence of independent thinking, conceptual analysis and problem-solving abilities.
     
  8. Students must be well-versed in a program area in international relations such as international security, foreign policy, international migration, international development or regional studies.
     
  9. Students should develop an advanced understanding of international relations and important issues such as human rights, climate change and international conflict and be able to apply their knowledge to a specific topic.
     
  10. Student internships and teaching engagements should generate knowledge and experience useful to the career goals of the graduate students.