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New Degree at American U. Aims to Prepare Next Generation of Foreign Policy Experts

Photo of the building of the School of International Service

A new and unique graduate degree designed to prepare future foreign policy experts, diplomats, and international affairs practitioners for real-world careers will be offered by American University’s School of International Service. Enrollment will open in December 2018 for courses that will begin in the fall of 2019.

Unlike other international and foreign affairs degrees, the new program will offer SIS students the flexibility to organize a detailed, practice-based course of study around the policy problems that most interest them, thus preparing them to make an immediate contribution to the organizations they will join upon graduation. One of the focal elements of the curriculum -- the integrated policy exercise – will require students to produce a portfolio that will mirror real-world professional deliverables and that can be included in their job applications and shared in networking scenarios.

“We are very aware of the need for our instruction to balance academic rigor with employable skills,” said Christine BN Chin, Dean of AU’s School of International Service. “Students come to SIS because they want to serve their communities and the world, and in order to do that, they must be prepared for what today’s world demands of them: hard skills and the ability to think critically about thorny and intractable challenges worldwide.” 

The new International Affairs Policy and Analysis (IAPA) degree will blend the analytical rigor of a conventional degree in international affairs with a consolidated set of policy, analytical and management skills. As part of the program, students can study a wide spectrum of complex global challenges, including nuclear proliferation, human and women’s rights, climate change, inequality, and sustainable development, among many other issues. They will also complete a set of skills-based courses engineered to meet the specific, real-time needs of government agencies, private enterprises, and non-profit organizations.

“The program is unique because it is designed to be a practical international affairs degree and to respond to a rapidly changing international affairs workplace,” said Mike Schroeder, the program’s director and the Assistant Dean for Masters Education at the School of International Service. “Our graduates will be well-positioned to serve as diplomats, policy and intelligence analysts, project and program managers, and applied researchers, to name just a few. This degree pivots toward what employers need from their policy staff in the 21st century.” 

The program will be especially well-suited for recent graduates of undergraduate programs who want to work in international affairs but who recognize they have skills gaps that need to be filled; career changers that either need to build out a new skill set while moving into the field of international affairs; and international affairs practitioners who need the MA credential to be promoted, but who also see graduate education school as an opportunity to acquire new skills critically important to advance their careers.