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American Foreign Policy

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American Foreign Policy 
Starr Lee, Senior Academic Program Coordinator
1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Suite 503
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 663-5714


Join the next generation of global leaders by gaining an in-depth understanding of American history from the Spanish-American War to the present; its culture; and the process and politics of American foreign policy relations.

Become an Expert

Analyze case studies illustrating real-world challenges for American diplomacy, the economy, and security. Under the guidance of expert faculty, conduct research for a capstone paper on a pressing issue of American foreign policy. Reexamine 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.


Featured Courses

Learn advanced frameworks for thinking strategically about policy, decision-making, history, and statecraft.


Kissinger Seminar: Contemporary Issues in American Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy

What are the major issues in US foreign policy today? What is the future of American power and strategy in a changing global system?

This course examines critical issues in US foreign policy and global strategy, from terrorism and the Islamic State, to great-power competition vis-à-vis Russia and China, to the threat of nuclear proliferation and rogue states. These issues will be analyzed through the lenses of strategy, statecraft, and decision-making. We will also consider major debates surrounding American grand strategy and the future of the international order. This course is part two of two of the new Kissinger Center curriculum in history, strategy, and statecraft. Participation in the first part of the Kissinger Seminar (History, Strategy, and American Statecraft) is useful but not required for enrollment in this course.


Conduct of Foreign Policy

This course deals with the process of analyzing, deciding, and implementing US foreign policy.

It gives students a framework for thinking strategically about policy and concepts for analyzing the results of policy choices. It emphasizes the bureaucratic and political factors that influence decision-making. It concentrates on the central role of the President, but also explores the particular capabilities and cultures of other government agencies as well as the influence of outside forces.


Road to Empire: The United States from Independence to World War II

This course analyzes US foreign policy from independence to Pearl Harbor. What is striking about these first 150 years of US diplomacy is how relevant many of its debates and crises are to US policy today.

Central to the Founding Fathers was the question of the uniqueness, or exceptionalism, of US diplomacy. The tension between Jeffersonian idealism and Hamiltonian realism remains the fundamental divide in US foreign policy debates. The intersection between the idea of Manifest Destiny and the institution of slavery opens a window on the powerful influence of racism on the formulation of US policy. The study of US relations with Native Americans and Latin Americans reveals patterns that persist in US relations with weaker states. In the late 19th century, the US clash with European imperialism and the opening toward China and Japan lay the foundations for the US global role in the 20th and 21st centuries. Wilsonian idealism continues to inform the present debate, and myths about American “isolationism” between the wars still distort our understanding of the past.


International Crisis: US and the Third World

This course analyzes the US response to crises in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East during the Cold War and beyond.

It explores the continuities – and discontinuities – in the policies of different presidents, the effectiveness of covert operations, the relevance of domestic politics, and the motivations of US policy. It also assesses the costs and benefits of US policy for people living in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. It provides a window on the Cold War and it places US policy in its global context. [Gather Content Comment: For Reviewer: Is there a Bologna course we could list as one of the four?]

Learn From the Best

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

Mary Sarotte

Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs

Hal Brands

Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor

Charles Stevenson

Acting Associate Director of the American Foreign Policy Program

Francis Gavin

Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor, Director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs

In the News

Geopolitics, sport, soft power: Soccer and the Arab Gulf.

David Ellwood wrote for USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s CPD Blog, 6/23

Here’s why China wants Trump to win.

Hal Brands wrote for Bloomberg Opinion, 6/22

Hungary's Orban uses COVID-19 crisis for another power grab.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 6/20

The post-coronavirus revolution.

Daniel Hamilton wrote in San Francisco Chronicle, 6/13

A pandemic, economic downturn, and globalization.

Hal Brands interviewed on MSNBC Morning Joe, 6/12

U.S.-Germany crisis goes deeper than Trump’s planned troop cuts.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 6/10

Boris Johnson shows Donald Trump how to lead the free world.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 6/8

Kosovo’s new government is ill-fated.

Daniel Serwer wrote in Prishtina Insight, 6/3

Advance Your Career

Gain the intellectual framework and analytic skills necessary to enter a variety of roles across the public, private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Recent Internships

  • Middle East Institute
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • US Department of Commerce
  • US Department of State
  • The White House Executive Office of the President 

Recent Employers

  • Apple Inc.
  • Credit Suisse
  • Eurasia Group
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • McKinsey & Company
  • National Committee on US-China Relations
  • Refugees International
  • US Department of State

Build Your Network

Join a diverse, accomplished, influential community of scholars, practitioners, alumni, and students working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students in front of US State Department

The school's strategic locations provide students with invaluable networking opportunities.

Johns Hopkins SAIS event with Condoleezza Rice

Students gain first-hand insights on a wide-range of topics from world renowned experts during events hosted at the school.

Johns Hopkins SAIS student

Gaining Perspective from Classmates to Guest Lecturers

"I am surrounded by classmates who come from a wide array of different backgrounds and all bring a different perspective or opinion into the classroom."

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Johns Hopkins SAIS student

Seeing the World Through a New Lens

"No matter which country is currently in the news or which country one is curious about, at Johns Hopkins SAIS, it is always possible to find someone from that country or someone who has been to that country who can share their perspective."

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Check back soon for upcoming events.

Beyond the Classroom

From research opportunities to visits to Congress and funded international study treks, you'll experience American foreign policy up close.

Meet Policymakers

The American Foreign Policy Program sponsors annual visits to the US Congress and the US Department of State. Hear from the public leaders who are navigating the legislative process. Gain perspective directly from diplomats managing the country's relationships abroad.

Careers in Diplomacy Club

Open doors to the diplomacy profession by connecting with like-minded students across the school. Network with alumni and practitioners, gain job seeking advice, and game plan for the foreign service exam.

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World-Class Events

Hear groundbreaking research from leading scholars at our weekly seminars. Recent sessions have explored topics including foreign policies of past US presidents, the effectiveness of covert operations, and the return of great power competition to the foreground of US national defense.

International Affairs On the Ground

Join a study trek and see firsthand the legacy of the Cold War in Eastern Europe, study the motivations of US responses to the drug trade in Colombia, or witness the challenges American firms have in accessing the Chinese market.