COVID-19, and REOPENING UPDATES: Click Here for Additional Information and Resources.

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.

Become an Expert

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. The Master or Arts in International Relations degree program will prepare you with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to tackle the complex global challenges of todayand tomorrow.

Core Curriculum

Build your expertise through a flexible and diverse curriculum, which includes core areas of study examining leadership, decision-making, data analytics, economics, geopolitics, and research methods. You will enroll in six courses (24 credits) within the following core areas:

  • Leadership, Ethics, and Decision-Making
  • World Order and Disorder
  • International Economics (2 courses)
  • Data Analytics
  • Research Methods

Focus Area 

Self-design the curriculum based on your interests with the 10 remaining courses (40 credits). This allows you to gain further professional and substantive insights by developing an extensive global mindset through functional and regional focus areas. At a minimum, 12 credits must be taken within one functional area and 12 credits within one regional area.

Functional

Regional

Capstones

Building upon the leadership, economic analysis, analytical conceptualization and reasoning, regional expertise, and real-world problem-solving skills you will gain in the classroom, the capstone component enables you to focus on an experiential learning opportunity that will best complement your professional goals. You will apply the knowledge you have gained from your studies into one of the following culminating projects and courses during your final year of study:

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.

Key Leadership Roles

Participate in a key leadership, activity roles such as international staff rides or symposia or conferences which culminate in an experiential report detailing specific lessons learned and skills gained. 

Practical Research Papers

Author a substantial academic paper based on original research related to your area of interest. This capstone option is usually associated with a seminar course where a student researches a topic and designs, executes, and assesses the end result.

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.)

Language Training

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. Students must complete proficiency in a language outside of their native tongues. 

Professional Skills Training

Learn through professional training that will prepare and guide you through your studies at SAIS and toward your future careers in the international affairs arena. Students complete a minimum of two non-credit, professional skills courses focusing on technical, leadership, problem-solving and professional content. Sample offerings include:
  • Public Speaking and Presentation
  • Policy Writing
  • Delivering Briefings
  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation
  • Project Management
  • Consulting
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Data Analytics for Policy Analysts
  • Financial Analysis
  • Political Risk Analysis
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • Intro to Python, R or STATA
  • Excel III and IV
  • Tableau

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

Professional Skills Courses

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

-Advanced Excel -Monitoring and Evaluation for International Development
-Communications -Negotiation
-Geographic Information System (GIS) -Policy Writing
-How to Deliver a Briefing -Project Management
-Intro to Financial Analysis -Public Speaking and Presentation
-Intro to Python -Tableau
-Intro to R -Teamwork
-Intro to STATA  


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

Chiedo Nwankwor

Lecturer and Director of SAIS Women Lead


In the News

The Afghanistan War wasn’t a cynical misadventure.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 08/31

Why we need a sane Republican Party.

Yascha Mounk hosted The Good Fight podcast, 08/28

All in or all out? Joe Biden saw no middle ground in Afghanistan.

Vali Nasr quoted in New York Times, 08/28

Africa: USA/global - let Cuba live.

Piero Gleijeses’ book cited on AllAfrica.com, 07/27

Singapore and the U.S. – China rivalry.

Interim Dean Kent E. Calder interviewed on Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Relations, 08/27

Biden can leave Afghanistan but not the Middle East.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 08/26

Strategic authoritarianism: The political cycles and selectivity of China’s tax-break policy.

Ling Chen wrote in American Journal of Political Science, 08/25


Advance Your Career

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

86% of the two-year Master of Arts in International Relations Class of 2020 were employed, pursuing fellowships or internships, or had gone on for further study within six months of graduation.*

Recent Employers

  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Deloitte
  • European Climate Foundation
  • Google, Inc.
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of State
  • United Nations
  • World Bank Group
* Based on results of a survey of students who graduated between December 2019 and August 2020. MAIR survey participation rate was 92%.

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

Admissions Events

Sep 21 8:00 am - 9:00 am Online SAIS Event

SAIS Europe Virtual Information Session

Join SAIS Europe to learn more about all our degree offerings. This informative virtual information session will present information on the admissions process for the MAIR (SAIS Europe), MAIA, MAGR,...

Sep 22 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Online SAIS Event

Master of Arts in International Relations Virtual Information Session

The Johns Hopkins SAIS Office of Admission invites you to learn more about the Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree by joining an online information session. Current MAIR...

Sep 23 11:00 am - 1:30 pm Online SAIS Event

APSIA Virtual Graduate Fair II

Thinking about Grad School? Searching for an international career in the private, public, or non-governmental sector?

Whether you’ve just started your search or have a shortlist in mind, representatives of...

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.