Learning the field of International Relations requires successful completion of a number of substantive courses as well as significant additional reading outside of these courses. Under ordinary circumstances, students majoring in IR should complete at least four courses in the field during their first four semesters; students minoring in the field should complete at least three courses during this time. Students will then sit for their Qualifying Exams in the August following their second year in the program. 

Students who are pursuing advanced language training that is pertinent to their field of study may request modifications of this schedule. Changes for this or any other reason must be approved in writing by the Graduate Director.

Course Work

PSC 651, Theories of International Relations, is the core course.

Additional courses include:

  • PSC 600: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Religion, IR, and the Media
  • PSC 655: Global Information Technology Policy
  • PSC 700: Civil War
  • PSC 700: Ethics in International Relations
  • PSC 700: Global Economic Governance
  • PSC 700: Security, Economic, and Political Challenges in Asia
  • PSC 700: The U.S., China, and Contested World Order
  • PSC 703: Governance and Global Civil Society
  • PSC 706: United States National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy
  • PSC 719: Fundamentals of Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • PSC 749: International Security Theory
  • PSC 752: International Law and Organizations
  • PSC 753: International Political Economy
  • PSC 754: International Conflict and Peace
  • PSC 756: Politics of the European Union
  • PSC 757: Non-State Actors in World Affairs
  • PSC 758: Global Migration
  • PSC 759: Crisis Management
  • PSC 783: Comparative Foreign Policy
  • PSC 785: Comparative Civil-Military Relations
  • PSC 788: Political Leadership
  • PSC 793: Constructing the World Polity

Qualifying Examinations

Two faculty members in each field coordinate the written examination by contributing questions themselves and soliciting questions from other faculty. Faculty in other departments may be asked for questions if a student has listed their course(s) as relevant to either of their major or minor field concentrations. All relevant faculty will receive a copy of students’ answers and are encouraged to submit written comments. Students take the written exams over two days in one week. The exams are taken in a department-specified computer lab and is closed note/book (no books, computer files, internet, etc.) except for one note sheet.

For International Relations, major students will answer one general question that crosses subfields and two subfield questions (1. Foreign Policy and Decision Making; 2. International Political Economy; 3. International Security and Conflict; 4. International Law and Organization). Minor students will answer one general and one subfield question. Students will use the syllabus for PSC 651 as the starting point for the exam (there is not a separate reading list). Students who are taking Security Studies as a minor would not be able to choose International Security and Conflict as one of their subfields.

Following the written exam is the oral exam – which includes field coordinators from students’ major and minor fields as well as a student-selected chair. Oral exams are generally scheduled within 30 days of students’ completion of both written exams and typically last 2 hours. Upon completion of the oral exam, the advisor will notify the Graduate Director in writing that the student has passed with distinction, passed, or failed. In the latter case, the student may retake the exam during the following semester. This option may only be exercised once. Students attain ABD (All But Dissertation) status after passing their qualifying exams, completing all coursework, and defending their dissertation proposal.

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