Master of Arts in International Relations

The MAIR program’s 30 unit academic curriculum offers students a strong core of required survey courses (POLS535, POLS550, POLS570), a wide range of subject focused courses, and a final capstone course (POLS595) to bring together the skills and knowledge they have acquired in our program. Course offerings vary from semester to semester, depending on instructor availability, though required courses are offered at least once per academic year. Full course descriptions for MAIR courses offerings are listed below along with the course calendar for the present academic year.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2017-2018, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on August 10, 2017. Access the catalog of record at

Program Description

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 Methods/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 eighteen 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. Graduate students that are enrolled at least half time (4.5 units) and apply for financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to USD are eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loans. These loans have a fixed rate that is established annually by the federal government. The maximum amount of a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is $20,500 per academic year. Financial Aid Awards will become available after a student has submitted a FAFSA and been admitted. Directions for applying for the loans will be available on every student’s MySanDiego portal. Students that intend to enroll during Intersession and/or Summer session can apply for financial aid by submitting the FAFSA and the Supplemental Financial Aid Application that becomes available in October for Intersession and February for Summer.

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.