The School of International Relations offers graduate curricula leading to several different graduate degrees. With courses and faculty renowned for their strengths in a great variety of fields — culture, gender and globalization, political economy, foreign policy and security, regional studies — our graduate international programs generally emphasize training for careers in advanced research and teaching. The school also welcomes professionally oriented students with related interests in fields such as law, communication, economics and business and public policy.
The School of International Relations has programs leading to a progressive B.A./M.A. in international relations; a dual M.A. in international relations/Juris Doctor offered with the USC Gould School of Law; a dual M.A. in international relations/Master of Planning and M.A. in international relations/Master of Public Administration offered with the School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Master of Public Diplomacy; and a Ph.D. in political science and international relations offered with the Political Science Department.
Admission RequirementsThe School of International Relations welcomes talented candidates from a variety of academic backgrounds. Admission decisions are based on consideration of applicants’ prior academic performance, as reflected in course grades and letters of recommendation. Applicants also are strongly encouraged to submit a sample of their written work in English, preferably a research-oriented paper. The committee also considers the potential for success in a graduate program based on Graduate Record Examinations scores. Business, government and other practical experiences related to international relations also are taken into account.
It is strongly recommended that master’s and doctoral degree candidates should have completed at least one undergraduate course in statistics or quantitative methods and at least one course in economics before enrolling for graduate study. A course in social or political theory or international history also is highly desirable. The faculty may admit promising students who lack one or more of these courses. Students with this preparation tend to be more successful in the program and more likely to prosper in an academic or research setting afterwards.
Degree RequirementsThese degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.
All graduate students are required to maintain regular contact with the graduate coordinator to assure compliance with departmental regulations.
Foreign Language RequirementStudents in the progressive B.A./M.A. and joint M.A./J.D., M.A./M.Pl. and M.A./M.P.A. master’s programs must show proficiency in at least one foreign language at the fourth semester level. In special instances a doctoral student’s dissertation guidance committee may require a student to show research competence in one or two foreign languages. International students whose native language is not English may satisfy this requirement by submitting proof of their ability to read and understand social science materials in their native language where appropriate, or in another language in which significant social science material is available.
Substantive Paper RequirementStudents in the progressive B.A./M.A. and joint M.A./J.D., M.A./M.Pl. and M.A./M.P.A. master’s programs must submit a substantive paper or alternative project. This requirement is meant to encourage students to polish articles that may ultimately prove suitable for publication, to develop materials that will display their talents for doctoral and graduate school admission committees or prospective employers, and to begin to develop dissertation proposals early in the graduate education process. A student may submit a revised version of a research paper or a detailed policy memorandum along with a copy of the original paper for which he or she received a grade of B+ or better in one international relations graduate class. Students may also submit a paper or project based on other original work. A two-person faculty examining committee, which must consist of School of International Relations faculty members, will evaluate the substantive paper or project and may, at their discretion, call the student for an oral examination on the project. The student may add a third outside member to the committee. They may also choose to examine the student on his or her course work in international relations.
Master of Arts, International Relations
RequirementsStudents who have the degree objective of joint M.A. programs (Master of Arts, International Relations/Juris Doctor; Master of Arts, International Relations/Master of Planning; and Master of Arts, International Relations/Master of Public Administration) must apply for an M.A. in International Relations. Students pursuing these joint programs must refer to the specific course requirements outlined for each program.
AdvisementStudents should consult with the school’s faculty advisor each semester before registering for courses for the next semester. Students also are encouraged to seek advice from other faculty who work in areas related to their interests. Students may, if they wish and if a faculty member agrees, select a different faculty advisor from among the school’s faculty. Consult with and inform the Office of Student Affairs regarding changes in faculty advisors.
Master of Arts, Political Science and International RelationsOnly students who have a degree objective of obtaining the Ph.D. will be admitted into the Political Science and International Relations program. However, interested students can obtain an M.A. degree while pursuing the Ph.D. The degree is awarded upon successful completion of (a) 28 units, including three of the five courses in the program’s theory and methodology sequence, a master’s thesis and registration in POSC 594ab or IR 594ab; and (b) the approval of the master’s thesis by the thesis committee.
Master of Arts, International Relations/Juris DoctorThe USC Gould School of Law and the School of International Relations jointly offer a three-year program leading to the J.D. and M.A. degrees. (Students may extend the dual degree program to four years.) Applicants must apply to both the law school and the School of International Relations and meet requirements for admission to both. In addition to the LSAT, students interested in this program are required to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Law students may apply to the School of International Relations during their first year at the law school.
In the first year, students take their course work in the law school exclusively. The second and third years include 24 units of courses in international relations and 40 units of law. Students pursuing the dual degree must complete LAW 662 or LAW 764 and one additional international law course. To earn the J.D., all students (including dual degree students) must complete 35 numerically graded law units at USC after the first year. The associate dean may make exceptions to this rule for students enrolled in law school honors programs.
Students pursuing the dual degree must complete 24 units within the School of International Relations at the 500 level or above. These students are required to successfully complete IR 500 International Relations Theory, either IR 513 Social Science and Historical Research Methods or IR 517 International Policy Analysis, and two domain courses selected from among IR 502 Conflict and Cooperation, IR 509 Culture, Gender, and Global Society, IR 521 Introduction to Foreign Policy Analysis and IR 541 Politics of the World Economy. Like all other international relations master’s degree programs, students in the dual degree program must complete a substantive paper or alternative project. The requirements, standards and evaluation procedure for the substantive paper are identical to those listed above for all M.A. students except that one member of the examining committee must come from the law school.
Master of Arts, International Relations/Master of PlanningThe School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the School of International Relations jointly offer a three-year program leading to both M.A. and M.Pl. degrees. Applicants must apply to the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the School of International Relations and meet the requirements for admission to both. Students interested in this program are required to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
Requirements for the completion of the dual degree program are 56 units, including 24 units in the School of International Relations and 32 units in the School of Policy, Planning and Development, as follows:
|IR 517||International Policy Analysis||4|
|one course that focuses on a specific region||4|
|one functional course from the following:||4|
|IR 502||Conflict and Cooperation||4|
|IR 509||Culture, Gender and Global Society||4|
|IR 521||Introduction to Foreign Policy Analysis||4|
|IR 541||Politics of the World Economy||4|
|three IR electives||12|
|Policy, Planning, and Development||Units|
|PPD 500||Intersectoral Leadership||2|
|PPD 501a||Economics for Policy, Planning and Development||2|
|PPD 524||Planning Theory||2|
|PPD 525||Statistics and Arguing from Data||2|
|PPD 526||Comparative International Development||2|
|PPD 527||The Social Context of Planning||2|
|PPD 529||Legal Environment of Planning||2|
|PPD 533||Planning History and Urban Form||2|
Planning Studios: PPD 531L (4, 4) to total 8 units. Students must complete 8 units of domestic or international planning studies under PPD 531 (4) to satisfy this requirement. A maximum of 12 units may be taken.
Electives: 8 units of elective courses in planning (including one methods class) taken within the School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
Dual degree students, like all other M.Pl. students, must take a comprehensive examination and fulfill the internship requirement. Students in the dual degree program must complete a substantive paper or alternative project. The requirements, standards and evaluation procedure for the substantive paper are identical to those listed for all International Relations master’s program students except that one member of the examining committee must come from the School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
Master of Arts, International Relations/Master of Public AdministrationThe School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the School of International Relations jointly offer a three-year program leading to both M.A. and M.P.A. degrees (students may extend the dual degree program to four years). Applicants must apply to the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the School of International Relations and meet requirements for admission to both. Students interested in this program are required to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
RequirementsStudents pursuing the dual degree must complete the degree requirements at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and at least 24 units within the School of International Relations. For a complete listing, see Policy, Planning, and Development.
Master of Public Diplomacy and Master of Public Diplomacy (Practitioner and Mid‑Career Professional)These degrees combine the resources of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ School of International Relations. The Master of Public Diplomacy is designed for students who already have a substantial undergraduate background in social sciences or relevant professional experience in subjects such as communication, film and media studies, journalism, political science, public relations and international relations. The Master of Public Diplomacy (Practitioner and Mid-Career Professional) is designed for students who have at least five years experience working in public diplomacy. See Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism for degree requirements.
Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science and International RelationsThe Ph.D. program is awarded to students who have demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the complex problems and processes of political science and international relations and the ability to make an original research contribution to their improved understanding. The degree requirements are fulfilled by successfully completing a minimum of 60 units beyond the B.A., the Ph.D. screening process, three fields of concentration, a substantive paper or M.A. thesis, a foreign language requirement, qualifying examinations, a dissertation proposal, and a written dissertation and its oral defense. In short, the prospective candidate for the Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations must demonstrate superior scholarship in course work and the ability to make an original contribution to knowledge.
Admission to the Ph.D. ProgramApplication deadline: December 1
The faculty of the Department of Political Science and the School of International Relations welcome talented candidates from a variety of academic backgrounds. While a prior degree in political science or international relations is not necessary, it is strongly recommended that applicants have completed at least some course work in related fields and subjects, including political theory, statistics and social science research methods.
Admission decisions are based on consideration of applicants’ prior academic performance, as reflected in course grades, the results of the Graduate Record Examinations, and letters of recommendation. Students must also submit a statement of intent that demonstrates a seriousness of purpose, a high level of motivation and a desire to benefit from our faculty’s areas of expertise or interest. Applicants also are strongly encouraged to submit a sample of their written work in English, preferably a research-oriented paper. Business, government and other practical experiences may also be taken into account.
Students with many different academic profiles are admitted into the program. However, applicants should understand that the admissions process is highly competitive. Students entering the program typically have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.3 from an accredited university in the United States or equivalent credentials from a non-U.S. institution, scores of 600 or better on each of the portions of the GREs, a TOEFL score of 600 (for those students for whom English is not their native language) and superior letters of recommendation for those who are in a position to evaluate a student’s ability to excel in a Ph.D. program.
Ph.D. Screening ProcessAt the end of their third semester, students will be reviewed by a screening committee made up of five faculty members appointed by the chair of the Department of Political Science and the director of the School of International Relations. Two faculty members will be drawn from the core research design classes and two from the core theory classes. The fifth committee member will be chosen by the student. This committee will review the student’s progress, including grades and written faculty evaluations of course work. The committee will be responsible for deciding, at an early stage in the student’s career, if the student is unlikely to finish the Ph.D. program. After reviewing the student’s record, the committee may decide to (1) continue the student, (2) not continue the student and admit the student into a terminal M.A. degree program or (3) fail the student’s performance in the screening process, i.e., not continue the student in the M.A. or Ph.D. programs.
Course RequirementsAll doctoral candidates must complete a five‑course core theory and methodology sequence. They must include a classics-oriented two-semester political, social, comparative and international theory sequence (currently POSC 530 and IR 500), a multivariate statistics course (such as IR 514 or POSC 600) and a philosophies/methodologies of social inquiry course (IR 513 or POSC 500). Finally, in their second, third or fourth year, they must take an approved advanced research methods course.
The selection of additional courses should be guided by the distribution requirements of the Ph.D. program. Students will choose three fields of concentration, at least two of which are from those regularly offered in political science and international relations. The student may also seek approval from the director of the Ph.D. program and the steering committee to create a different field of concentration. Each field of concentration requires completion of three graduate level courses with an average grade of B or better. Additional courses necessary to complete the 60 units required by the Graduate School should be taken in consultation with faculty advisors and the Guidelines for Graduate Study in Political Science and International Relations.
Fields of ConcentrationThe fields of concentration include: American politics; comparative politics/ regional studies; culture, gender and global society; foreign policy analysis; international political economy; international politics and security; law and public policy; political theory; and urban and ethnic politics in global society.
Foreign Language/Research Tool RequirementReading proficiency in a language other than English is a prerequisite for taking the qualifying examination. This requirement can be met by two years of college level foreign language training (with a minimum average grade of B) or by examination. Any course work done in the graduate program to develop language proficiency will not count toward the degree.
Substantive Paper or M.A. ThesisTo show evidence of the capacity to conduct original research and before taking the qualifying exam, each student will submit a substantive paper or M.A. thesis. The student, in consultation with the chair of his or her guidance committee, will distribute the substantive paper or M.A. thesis to all members of the guidance committee at least 14 days prior to the oral defense of the qualifying examinations. The substantive paper or M.A. thesis should be presented and defended in the oral component of the qualifying examinations as a viable journal submission to a peer-reviewed professional journal.
Qualifying ExaminationsStudents are eligible to take the qualifying exam upon successful completion of the Ph.D. screening process, required field course work with a grade of B or better, a substantive paper relevant to the program and all other Ph.D. requirements except those directly related to the Ph.D. dissertation. Ordinarily, students will take the qualifying exams no later than the seventh semester in the Ph.D. program. Students will be examined in two of their three fields of concentration. The third (non-examination) field will be completed by taking at least three courses and passing them with a grade of B or better. The guidance committee will evaluate the quality of the two written exams as evidence of the capacity to define and complete a Ph.D. dissertation.
The written examinations are closed book and will be administered over two days at least once per academic year. Examination questions will be written by a committee of the tenure track faculty in each field. The chair of the Department of Political Science and the director of the School of International Relations will appoint one faculty member from each field to coordinate the writing of the relevant field exam. The field exam coordinators will then seek assistance from other faculty in their field, including those with whom the student has studied, to compose the written examination questions.
In accordance with the Graduate School requirements, the oral portion of the student’s qualifying examination will be administered by his or her guidance committee. The oral examination will be based on the student’s two written field exams. The guidance committee will be made up of five members. Two members, one from each field, will be designated by the director of the Ph.D. program in consultation with the student’s principal advisor. In consultation with his or her principal advisor, the student will select the other two field examiners and the outside member of the guidance committee. Final approval of the guidance committee requires the signature of the chair of the Political Science Department or the director of the School of International Relations.
Students will pass the qualifying examinations if no more than one member of the guidance committee dissents after reviewing the student’s record at USC and performance on the written and oral parts of the qualifying exams. At the discretion of the guidance committee, students who do not pass the exams may be allowed to retake the qualifying exams the next time they are offered. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. when they have completed the university residency requirement and passed the written and oral portions of the Ph.D. qualifying examinations.
DissertationUpon completion of the qualifying examinations, the student selects in consultation with the dissertation advisor a three-person dissertation committee, including one external member, who will provide guidance and judge the quality of the dissertation. Within six months of completing the qualifying examinations, students should have a formal defense of the dissertation proposal before their dissertation committee. The Ph.D. is earned upon the successful public defense and submission of the written dissertation by the student before the dissertation committee.
All graduate students considering an academic career should generally have research, teaching and advisement experiences as part of their program of study.
Doctor of Philosophy in Political Economy and Public PolicyThe School of International Relations, the Department of Economics and the Department of Political Science jointly offer a program of study leading to the Ph.D. degree. Applicants are no longer being accepted to this program. Required courses include both core requirements and area requirements. Core requirements include courses in economic theory and history of economic theory; history of political thought; scope, methodology and research methods; and political economy and public policy. Area requirements include courses drawn from one of the following three areas of concentration: comparative and developmental political economy; politics, economics, and the policy process; and international political economy.
For a detailed description of this program, see Political Economy and Public Policy.