A One-Year MA Program

Coursework in the one-year MA program offered by the Committee of International Relations provides students with a rigorous examination of the political, security, economic, social and cultural forces that shape international affairs. Classes are writing and reading intensive, and foster critical and creative responses to the myriad challenges of the present.

CIR is an interdisciplinary program. Formal distribution requirements ensure that students receive a broad analytic understanding of the political and economic dynamics of international relations. At the same time students can specialize in a subject of their own interest. The two required CIR core seminars on international relations theory and international political economy provide students not only with a coherent intellectual foundation for other coursework at the University but are also a unique opportunity to engage in critical conversation with their peers.

The CIR Curriculum is organized into four fields:

International Relations Theory, Security and History | This track centers on the defining questions of anarchy, conflict and security competition among nation states.

International Political Economy and Development | This track focuses on global economic integration and cooperation, as well as the challenges posed by the immense welfare gap between various regions of the world for international development.

Regional Studies and Nationalism | This track allows students to investigate political and social process within the context of a particular region or state. This includes processes of state-formation, expressions of nationalist sentiments, the nature of failed states and the causes of civil and ethnic strife.

Human Rights, Environment, and International Law | This track brings the prism of rights and obligations to bear on the study of international relations. Here students explore the position of the individual within the international system, study the different forms legal arrangements can take and discuss how the global ecosystem has been shaped by state competition over security and economic growth.

As part of the distribution requirements each student concentrates their studies in two of the above fields. CIR faculty and preceptors assist students in choosing classes in their fields of study from courses within the University's Social Science Division, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. By allowing students to take nine courses during the year, the University of Chicago's quarter system provides the opportunity to take a broader array of tightly-focused courses than would be possible in institutions on the semester system.

For more information about the coursework and program requirements, see a sample CIR course list and the CIR study guide.

Course Offerings


Fall 2016


Perspectives On International Relations

(INRE 30000). Mark Bradley, M/W 5:00 p.m. - 6:20 p.m.

This required, non-credit course is designed to introduce students to the craft of research in International Relations. For the first half of Autumn quarter, the full cohort will meet for lectures on two central themes: (i) the fundamental aspects of conducting research in the social sciences, and, specifically, in International Relations; and (ii) preparation of the MA thesis proposal. Then, the three preceptor student groups will meet for workshops over the latter half of the quarter. The purpose of the workshops is to give each student the opportunity to present his or her proposal draft.


International Security

(INRE 43000). Michael Reese, Section 1: T 9:00 a.m. -11:50 a.m. and Section 2: Th 9:00 a.m. -11:50 a.m.

This seminar is a graduate-level survey of international order and security, covering two general areas of scholarship: (1) theories of international order and instability and (2) strategic interaction approaches to international security. The first half of the seminar is devoted to several current approaches to the problem of international (dis)order. Students will be introduced to the dominant theoretical perspectives -- realism, liberalism, and constructivism -- and their competing approaches to international order at various levels of analysis. The second half of the seminar explores theories of strategic interaction regarding the likelihood of war and the maintenance of peace. The concepts of coercion, deterrence, compellence, and reassurance will be discussed at the "general" strategic level; whereas crisis bargaining will be introduced at the "immediate" tactical level. The ultimate goal of the seminar is to provide students with a solid theoretical foundation for future explorations of academic and policy questions of special interest to them.


International Political Economy

(INRE 43800). Matthias Staisch, T 9:00 a.m. -11:50 a.m.

This seminar is a graduate-level survey of international political economy (IPE). It addresses three prominent questions: (1) How do governments coordinate to regulate the cross-border flow of goods, services, and capital? In particular, what are the relative merits of relying on decentralized, or market-based institutions, as opposed to centralized, or state-based ones, for doing so? (2) What are the distributional implications of these coordinating devices? Specifically, what kind of cleavages constitute the distributional struggles that characterize today’s global economy? (3) Why are the systems of international exchange prone to periodic crisis, and how do governments seek to restore stability, and insure against future volatility? By the end of this part of the core sequence, students will be able to (1) critically evaluate competing (empirical) measurements of the key concepts which constitute theoretical propositions in IPE; and (2) craft a research design that adequately matches a theoretical claim in IPE with relevant empirical data.


Reading/Research: International Relations

(INRE 49700). Mark Bradley, TBD

This course allows students the opportunity to receive course-credit for their thesis research. It may only be taken once.


Thesis Research/Writing International Relations

(INRE 49800). Mark Bradley, TBD

This course, which is required in each of the three quarters entailed in CIR's Second Year program, allows students the opportunity to receive course-credit for their thesis research.