Skip navigation

Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR)

Overview

The current global pandemic illustrates that the world is changing quickly and that it is essential for leaders to understand how economics, geopolitics, security, and the environment are inextricably linked—exactly what you will learn as a student at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Learn how we have reimagined the study of international relations and designed a bold new curriculum that allows you greater flexibility to focus on the issues that matter most to you.

Become an Expert

Our Master or Arts in International Relations curriculum will prepare you with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to tackle the complex global challenges of today--and tomorrow.

Data Analytics
Gain familiarity with the basic techniques for data analysis. This course will prepare students to progress to econometrics and to more advanced forms of data analytics.

Leadership, Ethics, and Decision-Making
Step into the shoes of senior officials through case studies and simulations and learn what it takes to lead ethically and make tough decisions regarding vexing issues in international relations, such as the use of chemical weapons against civilians, approaching trade agreements that will cause both benefit and harm, and negotiating with terrorist groups to allow humanitarian workers to deliver food to starving people.

Research Methods
Learn about the different methods and approaches involved in conducting social research and understand how to measure socio-political dynamics in a variety of settings.

World Order and Disorder
Understand major geopolitical political challenges in international affairs and global governance, and learn to identify potential solutions to these challenges by applying political analysis from various perspectives.

Economics (for all levels)
With a firm grasp of economics, you will possess a coveted skill set that is required to tackle today's most pressing global issues. Where others fear to tread, you can take the lead with confidence, regardless of previous experience with economics.

Students with professional interests in economics and who wish to pursue advanced economics courses should follow the intermediate-level track, while those who only seek a broad overview of international economics should follow the (non-economist) policymaker track.

  • Microeconomics: Intermediate-level course to develop microeconomic concepts, theory, and quantitative methodology.  Pre-requisite for more advanced economics and finance courses.
  • Macroeconomics: Intermediate-level course to develop macroeconomic concepts, theory and quantitative methodology.  Pre-requisite for more advanced economics and finance courses.
  • Microeconomics/Trade: Discussion of common issues in microeconomics and trade for (non-economist) policymakers.  No calculus needed.
  • Macroeconomics/Monetary: Discussion of common topics and issues in macroeconomics and international monetary economics for (non-economist) policymakers.  No calculus needed.

Development, Climate, and Sustainability
Focus on issues of development, poverty reduction, energy, environment, and climate change.

International Economics and Finance
Understand the principles and analytical tools of economics that are essential to understanding international relations and solving complex global issues.

Security, Strategy, and Statecraft
Explore traditional, emerging, and non-traditional threats, as well as diplomacy, foreign policy, and applied history.

States, Markets, and Institutions
Study issues of governance, including US and non-US institutions, as well as comparative studies and international political economy.

Technology and Culture
Explore issue of technology—including media—and the interplay politics related to culture and identity, including gender, ethnicity, nationalism, and religion.

Africa
Understand the challenges of democratization and governance, urban growth, civic activism, economic change, political affairs, and conflict within and between African countries. 

The Americas
Understand the factors driving policymaking across the Western Hemisphere—Latin American, Caribbean and North America.

Asia
Explore the trends shaping Asia in the 21st century including development, strategy, and conflict resolution to real circumstances across Japan, Korea, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

China
Explore China's political and economic system in contemporary and historical context including leadership, economic and political reform, foreign policy, US-China relations, and environmental challenges.

Europe and Eurasia
Learn about issues shaping the region's future, including economic governance, integration and disintegration, migration, and questions of nationalism, and populism.

The Middle East
Gain an in-depth understanding of the historical background of the Middle East including states and regimes, Islamic history, and how it has shaped the region. 

United States
Examine the role of the US in the changing world order, possible responses to present and future geopolitical and geoeconomic threats, and the usefulness of existing and possible future alliances, as well as other international institutional arrangements.

Building upon the leadership, economic analysis, analytical conceptualization and reasoning, regional expertise, and real-world problem-solving skills you will gain in the classroom, you will also gain hands-on experience through co-curricular and capstone programming such as study treks, staff rides, career treks, practicum projects and internships.

The capstone component enables you to focus on an experiential learning opportunity that will best complement your professional goals. Most capstone options culminate in a significant final report outlining their analysis and recommendations. Capstone options may include:

Practicum Projects
Gain in-depth experience consulting for client organizations working to address real-word challenges. Draw on your qualitative and quantitative skills to analyze and identify client issues and make plausible recommendations to address those challenges.

Study Trips
Conduct field research, engage with partner organizations, gain new perspectives on major global issues and enhance your learning beyond the classroom. Recent study treks have taken students to Brazil, Cameroon, the Republic of Georgia, Japan, and Slovenia.

Internships
Augment your studies through an approved internship experience and gain hands-on experiencing in your desired field. (Note: The Offices of Co-Curricular and Experiential Learning and Global Careers will help support internship opportunities but cannot guarantee internships capstones.)

Practical Research Papers
Author a substantial academic paper based on original research and related to your area of interest. This capstone option may be associated with a course or one-on-one with faculty advisor will approve the research topic, design, execution, and assess the end result.

Open doors to new professional possibilities through the study of a language. Our robust language studies program, emphasizing current political and economic topics, trains you to achieve proficiency in a non-native language.

Through our world-class partner institutions, you can earn two degrees at once, add a diploma, or study at another institution to gain additional perspectives.

WHAT YOUR SCHEDULE MAY LOOK LIKE

Most students at Johns Hopkins SAIS are enrolled full-time in the Master of Arts in International Relations. You can elect to spend either year at SAIS Europe or spend both years in Washington DC.

Pre –Term

Get a jump-start on your studies and meet fellow classmates and professors during Pre-Term.

Duration

Late July – August (DC)
Mid-August - September (SAIS Europe)

Fall Term

The curriculum’s interdisciplinary coursework emphasizes international economics, geopolitics, data analysis, quantitative methods, decision-making, and policy studies.

Sample Courses

  • Core: Leadership, Ethics, and Decision-Making
  • Core: Economics (1 of 2)
  • Focus Area: Functional (1 of 3)
  • Core: World Order and Disorder
  • Language Course

Duration

September–December

January Intersession

Gain hands-on experience and explore a current global issue by participating in a study trip, meet with alumni working in your target organization or industry during a career trek, or use this time to recharge and prepare for the spring semester. 



Spring Term

Beyond required courses, you will have room in your schedule for elective coursework. Most students complete the degree over two years and choose to pursue an internship between the first and second year.

Sample Courses

  • Core: Data Analytics
  • Focus Area: Functional (2 of 3)
  • Focus Area: Regional (1 of 3)
  • Elective
  • Language Course 

Duration

January–May

Advance Your Career

Approximately 75 percent of students augment their studies with an internship during the summer between their first and second years to gain practical, hands-on experience. Nearly half of the second-year class seeks exciting, part-time internships in the final year of their studies.

Duration

May–August

Fall Semester

Continue to further develop your expertise and focus on the issues that matter most to you.

Sample Courses

  • Core: Research Methods
  • Core: Economics (2 of 2)
  • Focus Area: Regional (2 of 3)
  • Elective
  • Language Course

Duration

September–December

January Intersession

The January Intercession is a valuable time to conduct field research, engage with partner organizations, and gain in-depth experience for students interested in participating in a practicum project.

Spring Term

Spend your final semester furthering your expertise and addressing a real-world problem as part of the required capstone project.

Sample Courses

  • Focus Area: Functional (3 of 3)
  • Focus Area: Regional (3 of 3)
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Capstone
  • Language Course 

Duration

January–May

Fall Term

Throughout your studies you will be encouraged to enroll in short professional development courses to support your career goals. These courses will be valuable as you complete your capstone project. 

Sample Courses

  • Accounting
  • Advanced Microsoft Excel
  • Advanced Microsoft PPT
  • Business Protocol
  • Communicating through Virtual Platforms
  • Consulting Skills
  • Corporate Valuation
  • Effective Presentation Skills & Public Speaking Techniques
  • Effective Writing for Business and Public Policy
  • Financial Accounting
  • Foundations of PPBE (Planning, Programming, Budgeting & Execution)

(cont.)

  • Funding for Nongovernmental Organizations
  • Interpreting Econometric Analysis
  • Introduction to Political Risk Analysis
  • Introductory to Basic Mediation Skills
  • Practical Negotiating
  • Preparing & Delivering a Briefing
  • Project Management
  • Python
  • Spreadsheet Modeling

Learn From the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Nina Hall

Assistant Professor of International Relations

Devesh Kapur

Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies, Director of Asia Programs

Chiedo Nwankwor

Lecturer and Director of SAIS Women Lead

Daniel Honig

Assistant Professor of International Development


In the News

When a vaccine arrives, people will ignore the anti-vaxxers.

Yascha Mounk wrote in The Atlantic, 7/31

When conservatives fall for demagogues.

Anne Applebaum interviewed on The New York Times’ The Argument podcast, 7/30

The “Twilight of Democracy” edition.

Anne Applebaum interviewed on Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast, 7/30

USA vs China: A new Cold War?

Daniel Hamilton interviewed on Deutsche Welle News, 7/30

China’s rise, deglobalization, and the future of Indo-Pacific governance.

David Arase wrote in AsiaGlobal Online Journal, 7/30

Russia, Russia, Russia.

Anne Applebaum interviewed on Politicon podcast, 7/29

Go memorize a poem.

Dean Eliot A. Cohen wrote in The Atlantic, 7/29


Advance Your Career

From consultants to entrepreneurs, leaders of nongovernmental organizations to policymakers, Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates put their degrees to work.

92% of the two-year Master of Arts Class of 2019 were employed, pursuing fellowships or internships, or had gone on for further study within six months of graduation.*

Recent Employers

  • Deloitte
  • Eurasia Foundation
  • European Stability Mechanism
  • ExxonMobil Corporation
  • Fair Labor Association
  • Federal Reserve Board
  • IBM
  • International Finance Corporation
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Institute for Defense Analyses
* Based on results of a survey of students who graduated between December 2018 and August 2019. MA survey participation rate was 85%.
  • Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)
  • Morgan Stanley
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Partners of the Americas
  • United Nations Foundation
  • US Department of State
  • US Department of Treasury
  • US House of Representatives
  • World Bank Group
  • World Resources Institute

Build Your Network

Join an influential alumni network of more than 20,000 professionals working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

The SAIS Global Women in Leadership (GWL) student-run career club tackles challenges facing women worldwide by hosting a skills workshops, networking events, and an annual conference, all of which bring together students, alumni, international relations practitioners, policy makers, and business leaders.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students with Bill Gates

Students gain valuable insights from global leaders and international relations experts through the many events hosted at the school that provide a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world.

photo of tebogo

On the Fast-Track to Advancing My Career

"While studying at Johns Hopkins SAIS, I was very impressed with the faculty and coursework, which gave me an unprecedented learning experience."

View Story

photo of levi

A Top-Notch Education

"Every week, the school brings some of the top minds in international relations and related fields to speak on campus. From Wolf Blitzer to Francis Fukuyama to the President of Afghanistan, there is no lack of clout or diversity from the speakers."

View Story

Events

Aug 13 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm Online SAIS Event

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Virtual Information Session

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Office will host an information session on the admissions and financial aid application process for all Hopkins-Nanjing Center programs. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center, an educational collaboration between...

Aug 18 8:00 am - 9:00 am Online SAIS Event

SAIS Europe Information Session

Join us for a SAIS Europe Information on our various Master's Programs. In addition to learning about our campus, the session will also provide information on our graduate programs including...

Sep 15 8:00 am - 9:00 am Online SAIS Event

SAIS Europe Information Session

Join us for a SAIS Europe Information on our various Master's Programs. In addition to learning about our campus, the session will also provide information on our graduate programs...

Beyond the Classroom

Gain real-world, cutting-edge expertise needed to address today’s most pressing global challenges.

World-Class Events

The school regularly hosts expert policymakers, CEOs, heads of state, and scholars to campus. Students are encouraged to explore topics of interest by attending lectures, presentations, and special programming.

Study Treks

More than two dozen study treks are offered throughout the academic year, providing students valuable opportunities to conduct field research, engage with partner organizations, and gain new perspectives on major global issues.

Career Treks

Through company visits and alumni networking receptions students gain an insider’s perspective on working in different sectors. The school hosts career treks around the world to help students learn about career paths in asset management, consulting, energy and environment, finance, international development, nonprofits, multilateral organizations, political risk, think tanks, and more.

Staff Rides

During a staff ride, students gain lessons in strategy, leadership, and decision making by visiting a historic battle site and reenacting key moments. Each year, at least one staff ride occurs outside of the US and recent staff rides have been conducted in South Korea, Scotland, Italy, and Poland.

Student Government Association

Serve as the liaison between the student body and administration, offering ideas for programming and selecting guest speakers for the faculty research seminar series.

Practicum

Practicum projects provide students with extensive, in-depth experience consulting for client organizations working to address real-world challenges.