Academic Course Catalogs

Drop Shadow


Master of Arts in International Relations

J. Michael Williams, PhD, JD, Associate Professor, Comparative Politics, Politics in sub-Saharan Africa, Politics in South Africa
Emily Edmonds-Poli, PhD, Graduate Director and Adviser, Associate Professor, Politics in Latin America, Politics in Mexico, U.S.-Latin American Relations
Del Dickson, PhD, JD, Professor, Comparative and International Law
Casey B.K. Dominguez, PhD, Assistant Professor, American Politics
Virginia Lewis, PhD, Professor, Political Theory
Vidya Nadkarni, PhD, Professor, American Foreign Policy, Politics in Russia, International Relations Theory
Noelle Norton, PhD, Professor, American Politics, Gender Politics
Lee Ann Otto, PhD, Professor, Politics in Japan and China, Revolutionary Change
Michael R. Pfau, PhD, Associate Professor, Politics in Germany, Methodology
David Shirk, PhD, Associate Professor, Comparative Politics, International Political Economy, Politics of Latin America, U.S.-Latin American Relations
Avi Spiegel, PhD, JD, Assistant Professor, Politics in the Middle East, International Human Rights
Randy Willoughby, PhD, Professor, Politics in Europe, U.S. National Security, Regional Security

The Master of Arts Program in International Relations (MAIR) offers a 30-unit curriculum of comparative politics and international relations. The goals of the program are to allow students to pursue advanced understanding of world politics and to enhance their career options, particularly in international fields, including government, education, private business, and non-governmental organizations. The full-time political science faculty supervise the program, and eight of the ten required courses are seminars in that department. The two remaining courses must be approved by the graduate adviser and are selected by the student from internationally oriented courses in the fields of business, economics, history, law, peace and justice studies, and/or political science (including three-week travel courses led by USD faculty members). The culmination of the program is a comprehensive paper and oral exam that allows the student to integrate theoretical and empirical material from courses taken in the program. The exam serves as a method of evaluating students’ progress by requiring them to think critically about how the material contributes to a broader understanding of the discipline of International Relations. Full-time students typically need one and one-half years to complete the coursework and two years to complete the program. Part-time study is also welcomed and accommodated by a schedule that convenes graduate classes either one evening per week during the regular semester, or two evenings a week for a seven-week term in the summer. The program also offers joint degrees (MA/JD) in conjunction with the School of Law; interested students need to apply for admission to each program separately.

Scholarships

When funding permits, the Political Science department annually 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 $15,000 and the Irving Salomon Awards generally range from $100 to $500. Both are awarded based on academic achievement and promise. Eligible 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) may not be considered for awards. Entering students will be notified of scholarship awards with their letters of admission. Continuing students are generally notified of their awards approximately one month before the beginning of the semester.

Requirements for the Degree

  • Approval of courses by graduate director;
  • 24 units of political science at the 500-level, including Theories of International Relations (POL 570) and Comparative Politics (POL 550);
  • Additional 6 units of relevant courses chosen from among political science, peace and justice studies, economics, history, business administration, or law. Under exceptional circumstances and with special graduate level adjustments, students may enroll in other relevant courses numbered 300 and above;
  • Only one course with a grade of “C+”, “C”, or “C-” may count toward the degree;
  • No courses with a grade of “D” or “F” will count toward the degree although the grade will be calculated in the GPA; and,
  • Satisfactory performance on a comprehensive examination in the final semester.

Courses and Seminars

POLS 506 POLITICAL IDEOLOGY (3)

An investigation of the way in which theories of political life are applied in the real world. Special attention will be given to the major alternative approaches to political society, including authoritarianism, fascism, national socialism, communism, and liberal democracy. Students will explore topics such as utilitarianism, feminism, deep ecology, anarchy, social democracy and both national and international capitalism.

POLS 529 LAW OF THE SEA (3)

A study of regimes of the sea including fisheries, seabed mining, and coastal management zones. The politics of ocean regulation will be examined with emphasis on the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. The seminar will consider maritime law from three perspectives: 1) the development of international law; 2) the processes of international bargaining and negotiation; and 3) the decision-making processes associated with the formulation of maritime policies in individual countries.

POLS 550 COMPARATIVE POLITICS (3)

This course examines the major theoretical approaches to comparative politics as well as the political histories of individual countries. It is designed to introduce students to a variety of themes central to this field, including state-society relations, state capacity, the role of institutions, nationalism, cultural or ethnic pluralism, political culture, and democracy. This course is a degree requirement.

POLS 554 REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE (3)

A comparative study of the revolutionary process focusing on the causes and political implications of revolutionary change. The conditions that influence the outcome of revolutions and the effects on the international system will also be examined.

POLS 555 POLITICS IN WESTERN EUROPE (3)

This course offers an examination of the histories, institutions, elections and parties, and domestic and foreign policies of a selection of European countries, with additional attention to the evolution of the European Union.

POLS 557 POLITICS IN LATIN AMERICA (3)

This course uses a variety of theories to examine the dynamics of political and economic change in Latin America. Particular emphasis is placed on the causes and consequences of cyclical economic development and recurrent waves of democratization and authoritarianism.

POLS 559 POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST (3)

A study of political developments in the Middle East with particular attention given to the contemporary era. The role of the Middle East in the international system will be assessed, especially security and economic dimensions.

POLS 560 POLITICS OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA (3)

This course provides an in-depth analysis of political development in sub-Saharan Africa. It is designed to introduce students to the challenges African states have faced during the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial eras. Particular emphasis is placed on how different countries have sought to develop strong institutions, democratic processes, and national integration in the context of scarce resources and civil conflict.

POLS 561 POLITICS IN SOUTH AFRICA (3)

This course examines the major issues and challenges that face South Africa. The goal of the course is to introduce students to contemporary South African politics and to place the current political challenges into the broader historical context.

POLS 565 POLITICS IN RUSSIA (3)

An examination of the political institutions and forces of change in Russia with particular attention to the difficulties of democratization, modernization, and capitalist transformation.

POLS 566 POLITICS IN MEXICO (3)

This course examines the trajectory of political development in Mexico from the twentieth century to the present. We will examine the Mexican Revolution, the origins of the dominant party system, the transition to democracy and current prospects for democratic and economic stability.

POLS 567 POLITICS IN JAPAN (3)

An examination of post-war politics in Japan focusing on political institutions, major political actors, and mass and elite political behavior. Special attention is paid to issues of modernization, the evolution of Japanese political practices and Japan’s changing democracy.

POLS 568 POLITICS IN CHINA (3)

An examination of contemporary politics and issues including political institutions, the policy-making process, and citizen political behavior. Special attention is given to prospects for political reform in China.

POLS 570 THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (3)

An examination of realist, neorealist, neoliberal, globalist, constructivist and normative theories of international relations and an inquiry into the relationship between theory and historical evidence. This course is a degree requirement.

POLS 571 AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY (3)

An examination of the challenges and opportunities facing American foreign policy in the 21st century, the institutional context of foreign policy decision-making, and the application of theories of international politics and foreign policy to the empirical analysis of contemporary American foreign policy.

POLS 572 RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY (3)

An examination of Russian foreign policy focusing on competing institutions within the foreign policy establishments, changing security preoccupations, and the difficulties of realigning regional and global relationships in a structurally changed international system.

POLS 573 CHINESE FOREIGN POLICY (3)

An analysis of the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China. Foreign policy-making and China’s relations with international actors will be examined.

POLS 574 U.S.-LATIN AMERICAN RELATIONS (3)

An analysis of historical and contemporary relations between the U.S. and Latin America. Policy issues examined include trade, immigration, drug trafficking, military intervention, and relations with Cuba.

POLS 575 COMPARATIVE FOREIGN POLICY (3)

An analysis of foreign policy-making with attention to the varying impact of political culture and political institutions.

POLS 576 U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY (3)

This course examines contemporary U.S. security policy, including military technology, nuclear strategy and arms control, recent U.S. military interventions, biological and chemical weapons, domestic security politics, the defense industry and budget, and terrorism.

POLS 577 REGIONAL SECURITY (3)

This course examines security dynamics in four important regions of the world: West Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East. We address issues like conventional and nuclear forces, civil war, diplomatic relations between and within the regions, bureaucratic and electoral politics, and drug trafficking.

POLS 578 TRANSNATIONAL CRIME AND TERRORISM (3)

This course focuses on how the law enforcement community has responded to the unprecedented increase in crimes and terrorist acts that cross international borders. The course examines those factors that have led to this increase in transnational crime and terrorism, the types of crimes that pose the greatest threat to lawful societies, the responses that have been developed to combat transnational crime, and the extent to which transnational crime threatens the national security interests of the United States and the world community.

POLS 579 BORDER POLITICS AND POLICY (3)

An examination of U.S.-Mexican border politics and related policies, including trade, economic development, migration, law enforcement and security, and international diplomacy. This course will also consider comparative border dynamics of other regions, such as U.S.-Canada, China-Russia, Spain-Morocco, and the European Union.

POLS 580 INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY (3)

An examination of the international and national political strategies affecting economic growth and global distribution of wealth.

POLS 582 INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS (3)

A consideration of theoretical foundations, historical development, and applications of human rights in differing parts of the world. The seminar will focus on contending approaches to human rights.

POLS 583 INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (3)

This course introduces students to the role that international organizations play in international politics, focusing on the concept of global governance. The United Nations and its specialized agencies, regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations are examined with attention to their roles in international security, economic development, protection of human rights, and preservation of the environment

POLS 594 TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (3)

A current issue or topic in the discipline will be the focus of the course. The course can be repeated if the topic changes.

POLS 599 RESEARCH PROJECT (3)

Directed research for up to three units can be conducted under the supervision of one of the graduate faculty members in the Political Science department. Students must be at least halfway through the program, with a 3.5 GPA, and project proposals must be approved by the faculty sponsor, graduate adviser, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before the beginning of the relevant semester.

Elective Courses

Students may take up to six units in elective credit from the course listings below. Under exceptional circumstances and with special graduate level adjustments, and approval of the graduate director, students may take other relevant courses numbered 300 and above.

Department of History (each class is worth 3 units)

HIST 548 Vietnam War
HIST 559 Topics in Modern Middle East
HIST 560 Topics in Latin American History
HIST 564 Topics in Asian History
HIST 568 Issues in Modern Africa
HIST 575 Topics in Modern American History (as long as content focuses on International Relations)

School of Law (units will vary)

Enrollment in law courses requires approval of the Law School.
LAW European Union Law
LAW European Legal Studies
LAW International Arbitration
LAW International Business Transactions
LAW International Contracts
LAW International Criminal Law
LAW International Environmental Law
LAW International Trade
LAW Public International Law

School of Business Administration (units will vary)

Some of the graduate business classes listed here have prerequisites. In most cases the prerequisite courses will not count toward the MAIR degree. Only the Business School can wave a prerequisite requirement.
GSBA 507 Peace Through Commerce
GSBA 508 International Legal and Social Environment of Global Business
GSBA 523 International Financial Management
GSBA 532 International Comparative Management
GSBA 582 Advanced International Business Negotiations
GSBA 585 Business Environment of Asia and the Pacific Rim
GSBA 587 Latin American Business Environment

School of Peace and Justice (each class is worth 3 units)

Enrollment in Peace and Justice courses requires approval of the School of Peace and Justice
PJS 510 Religion and Conflict Transformation
PJS 550 Analysis and Resolution of Violent Conflict
PJS 552 Conflict Resolution in Communities and Organizations
PJS 553 International Conflict Prevention & Resolution
PJS 554 Warlords, Druglords and Gangs: The Challenge of Factional Conflict in Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
PJS 556 International Negotiations
PJS 558 Peace and Justice in World Politics: Theory and Practice
PJS 572 Environmental Justice
PJS 574 Civil Society, Peacebuilding and Development
PJS 580 International Justice and Human Rights
PJS 582 Transitional Justice and Responding to Mass Atrocities


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