M.A. Program

The Masters Program in International Law & Global Security has ended. The Institute is not accepting applications and will not be taking applicants for the foreseeable future.

Masters of Arts in International Law and Global Security

The M.A. requires 30 credits of graduate course work, a final oral comprehensive examination, and written proficiency in a second language. Course offerings include: International Law, International Relations, International Law and War, International Environmental Law, Judicial Politics, International Law and U.S. Foreign Policy, Constitutional Law of U.S. Foreign Relations, Fundamentals of Political Theory, International Legal Philosophy, Law and Global Society, International Organizations and Transnationalism, U.S. Foreign Policy Process, International Political Economy, The Future of the International Legal Order, Political Challenges to International Law.


Admission to the program will be based on an applicant's academic record (official transcripts), three letters of recommendation, an academic writing sample, the Graduate Record Examination results (the Department requires all applicants to take the General Test of the GRE), and a statement of purpose. Other admissions requirements include an application fee for all applicants and TOEFL scores for non-native English speakers—scores of 550 (paper test) or 213 (electronic test) or higher.

Although it is desirable that applicants have completed 18 undergraduate semester hours in political science, the admissions committee does not apply this credit requirement rigidly. It may accept related courses or recommend that the applicant complete courses beyond the minimum degree requirements. The Department will consider individuals from a wide diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and careers. Its key criterion for admission remains strong academic promise.


  • 30 Credits total
  • Required Courses:
    • International Law, GOVT 403 (FALL) 
    • Seminar: The Future of the International Legal Order (SPRING).
  • Other Requirements
    • 1 international organization course as approved by the program directors,
    • 1 international relations theory course as approved by the directors (e.g., GOVT 551 or similar course) and
    • 6 other supporting courses as approved by the directors.
  • Comprehensive Exam
    • Students will take a final oral comprehensive examination administered by a panel of at least three faculty members.
  • Language Requirement:
    • Students are required to demonstrate research competence in a second language as determined by written examination. Research competence is defined as the ability to understand scholarly literature and other materials relevant to research in international law and government.

Native speakers of foreign languages may fulfill their language requirement by showing fluency in English. At the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, successful performance on language exams that are comparable to the Government Department's own language exams can be used to meet the language requirement. Students may prepare for language examinations by taking courses, but they will not receive credit toward their Government Department graduate degree for language courses.
  • List of required and potential supporting courses
    • While the specific courses will vary depending upon the student's interests and background, and the availability of space, the kind of courses that the students would be able to take can be seen in the current semester's offerings.

Program Goals

The goal of the MA Program in Government with a concentration in International Law and Global Security is to prepare students to be knowledgeable about the role of international law in the conduct of international relations. Students will be especially prepared for legal careers in the US Department of State and other government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the media, teaching in academia, researching in think tanks and participating in the private sector.

Students who complete the program will be able to: 

  • Understand and analyze the historical context of international law, including its contribution to making international relations more orderly and predictable, the creation of legal norms through international institutions, and the role of law in the development of international political institutions and contemporary political developments.
  • Understand and critique theoretical approaches to contemporary international law, including its relevance for the use of force, formation of national intelligence, protection of the world environment, negotiation of arms control and disarmament agreements, the missions of international institutions, the functioning of transnational diplomacy, the development of human rights, and the development of international criminal law. 
  • Write cogently and lucidly about current international legal problems and issues.

Learning Goals

  • In coursework and research opportunities, students will be able to: 
  • Identify international legal theories with scholars and schools of thought at the graduate level 
  • Apply international legal theories in various contexts, including contemporary concepts relating to constructivism, feminism, realism, institutionalism, and liberalism
  • Use experience in government agencies, universities and research institutions to apply, distill and appraise general theories of international law 
  • Analyze international norms and institutions as they relate to national policies and international politics
  • Be familiar with critical information sources in international law including:
    • Data on the content of international law
    • Data on how international norms are made
    • Data on international judicial processes, including the roles of International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court
  • Develop the skill to research, document and write scholarly papers that critically analyze and evaluate a legal thesis 
  • Be able to write a cogent analysis that assesses complex concepts into short legal briefs
  • Analyze sophisticated legal theories in both their conceptual and professional contexts

Program Resources

The M.A. program works in close relation with the Institute, allowing students to utilize its resources. The program is able to utilize additional resources at the Georgetown Law Center, where M.A. students may take program-related courses. Recent graduates have gone on to work in both the public and private sectors. Others have chosen to pursue further education.  Additionally, Institute M.A. students who apply to the Italy summer program are eligible for scholarship opportunities for attending the summer international law and security program in Florence.