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DIA vs. PhD

At Johns Hopkins SAIS, both the Doctor of International Affairs and the Doctor of Philosophy involve mentored research and in-depth investigation. Graduates of both programs earn the title “Doctor.”  There are a few key differences as noted below.




Locations School-wide; interdisciplinary in Washington, DC or SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy Department Based in Washington DC or SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy
Guiding Philosophy International relations practice and application International relations theory and scholarship
Typical Student Mid-career Early-career
Student Goal Leadership role in private, nonprofit, multilateral or public sector Academic, research, and policy careers
Qualifications Needed 5+ years of full-time, professional experience in international affairs or a related field

48-credit track – Relevant master’s degree

80-credit track - Bachelor’s degree

GRE/GMAT optional
No professional experience

Master’s degree (or bachelor’s degree plus significant prior research experience)

GRE/GMAT required
Program Method of Delivery Residential, on-campus for coursework in Washington DC or SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy

Non-residential for doctoral thesis

Residential, on-campus, full-time for coursework in Washington DC

Non-residential for dissertation

Duration Fixed: 2-3 years, full and part-time options Variable: 4-7 years (5.5 year average), full-time only
Curriculum 48-credit track – 8 courses; full-time (1 yr)  or part-time (2 yrs), plus 1 yr, part-time for thesis research and writing

80-credit track – 16 courses; full-time only (2 yrs),  plus 1 yr, part-time for thesis research and writing

Research methods training
Variable credit

Research methods and quantitative training

Three comprehensive exams

Two foreign languages
Research Product Doctoral thesis

Applied research

Original argument or synthesis and contribution to policy

Mostly secondary or tertiary sources
Doctoral dissertation

Original contribution to scholarship (creation of new knowledge, theory, concepts)

Significant use of primary sources
Funding Students self-fund or through employer support SAIS funded

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