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International Economic Relations | SIS

Academic Program


International Economic Relations provides students with the range of skills needed to understand international economic and financial problems in today’s complex global environment. What distinguishes the program is its focus on international trade, finance, investment, and development using analytical tools from economics and political science. Students learn to apply concepts and theories from international economics and international political economy to understand institutions, policymaking, and market dynamics in the global economy. Our distinguished international faculty of scholars and practitioners regularly interacts with students both inside and outside the classroom. IER students also may supplement their studies in SIS by taking advantage of courses and seminars in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Economics, at the Kogod School of Business, or at the Washington College of Law. The program’s academic content is complemented by the many internship, research, and policy-oriented work opportunities available for students in Washington, D.C. Applicants with undergraduate majors or minors in economics, and with some research, internship or work experience in international economic policy issues, are particularly welcome by the program.


Themes in International Economic Relations include:

  • International commercial and financial policies, such as protectionism and currency regimes.
  • The globalization of commodity and financial markets; the role of the World Trade Organization; bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements; and private-sector actors and organizations.
  • Foreign direct and portfolio investment, and relations between multinational corporations and national governments.
  • The politics and main institutions of the global economy.
  • Transformation of the international monetary system and the appearance of monetary regionalism, e.g., European monetary union.
  • Financial crises and efforts to prevent and manage them through reforms of domestic currency regimes and domestic or international financial institutions.
  • Democratic accountability, transparency, and management of international economic organizations.
  • Practices and techniques typical of international trade and financial transactions.
  • Trade-offs between economic efficiency and political considerations that underlie choices about international economic policies.


Our curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for careers in areas such as government, international and non-governmental organizations, corporations, trade associations, finance ministries, and regulatory authorities. Some of our graduates go on to complete doctoral degrees. Our graduates have found rewarding careers in organizations that include the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, U.S. Treasury, Chemonics, European Central Bank, IBM, Daimler AG, L'Oreal, European Commission, U.S. Congress, International Food Policy Research Institute, Institute for Policy Studies, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Organization of American States, and the U.S. Foreign Service.


Given our location in Washington, D.C., students have access to a wide array of internships and mentoring opportunities. All students are strongly encouraged to complete internships while studying at the School of International Service, during the academic year and the summer months. The University Career Center is available to discuss internship options with all American University students. Internships abroad are also a possibility, especially during summertime. Internships in which IER students have participated in the past include such organizations as Honeywell International, Institute of International Finance, International Management Institute, International Monetary Fund, International Labor Organization, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Ex-Im Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce, Korea Economic Institute of America, World Bank, AB Bellington (Commodities Trading), Economic Strategy Institute, U.S.-China Business Council, U.S.-Russia Business Council, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

IER Program Requirements

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Read requirements for the MA in International Affairs: International Economic Relations.

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