CIR offers a fast-paced, 1-year master’s program. Over the course of the academic year, students take nine substantive courses, including two required core seminars on foundational topics in international relations. In addition to coursework, students participate in a year-long workshop series in which instructional professors introduce research fundamentals and provide feedback on thesis proposals and drafts. Submission of the master’s thesis paper to the faculty advisor and second reader constitutes the final step in the academic process.

Academic Standards: The Committee on International Relations adheres to high academic standards when evaluating the scholarly performance of its students. Students enrolled in the program are expected to complete their work according to the ethical standards dictated by the University of Chicago. These include the proper attribution of the work of others. Failure to properly acknowledge the works of others is cheating and will lead to severe sanctions including academic probation and/or expulsion from the program. For further guidance on the ethical conduct of research, consult Charles Lipson’s Doing Honest Work in College (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008). For comprehensive information on the University of Chicago’s official policies and procedures regarding proper academic conduct, consult the UChicago Student Manual.  

Degree Requirements:

  1. Complete nine graduate-level UChicago courses for credit and earn a minimum 3.0 GPA

  2. Satisfy the CIR course distribution requirements for these nine graduate-level courses

  3. Receive a grade of “pass” in three sections of INRE 46500—MA Thesis Workshop, a required, non-credit course that meets in autumn, winter, and spring quarter, respectively

  4. Complete an MA thesis paper with the approval of both a faculty reader and an assigned preceptor

  5. File an “Application for a Degree” electronically on my.uchicago.edu no later than the first week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate

Courses:

  • Graduate-level courses carry a call number of 30000 and higher.

  • Full-time MA students register for three graduate courses per quarter. BA/MA students may petition the CIR Associate Director for approval to take four classes.

  • Every quarter prior to course registration, CIR publishes a list of approved courses.  Each course is assigned to at least one of 5 fields of study:

    1. International Security, Conflict Studies and Contentious Politics

    2. International Political Economy and Development

    3. Comparative Studies in Political Institutions and Identity

    4. Human Rights, Environment, and International Law

    5. Research Methods in the Social Sciences

  • In exceptional circumstances, a student may submit a formal written petition, including a copy of the syllabus of the course in question, to the Associate Director to request that a course be assigned to an additional field of study.  Such a petition must be submitted no later than the second week of the quarter in which the course is being offered.

  • To satisfy CIR’s course distribution requirements, students must:

    • Take three courses in each of two fields of study. A course assigned to more than one field of study can only count toward one of a student’s chosen pair of fields.

    • Enroll in two out of three CIR core seminars: INRE 43000 (­International Order and Security), INRE 43800 (­International Political Economy), and INRE 43100 (Global Governance, Rights, and Norms)

    • Enroll in seven for-credit courses from the published lists of approved courses. In exceptional circumstances, a student may submit a formal written petition (including a copy of the syllabus of the course in question) to the Associate Director to request the inclusion of an appropriate course not currently on this list. Such a petition must be submitted no later than the second week of the quarter in which the course is being offered.

    • Enroll in six for-credit courses within the Division of the Social Sciences. Courses offered by other divisions or committees count as social sciences courses if the registrar cross-lists them with a committee or department in the social sciences. Please note that the Booth School of Business does not cross list courses.  The Law School and the Harris School of Public Policy cross list a limited number of courses.  Students may not petition to have courses cross listed.

  • INRE 49700—Reading and Research in International Relations: This optional course is intended to provide the guidance necessary to complete the MA thesis paper free from the demands of other courses. Students may register for INRE 49700 only once, and with the consent of their faculty advisor and advisor. Both register consent by signing the INRE 49700 approval form, which students then submit to the Student Affairs Administrator. Students do not receive a grade until the MA thesis paper is completed. Only the faculty reader can provide a grade for this course.

  • Students may not register for classes in foreign language study outside of those offered during UChicago’s Summer Language Institute (SLI). SLI classes do not count toward the nine required, for-credit, graduate courses. Any language courses undertaken by BA/MA students in their fourth year may only be counted toward their undergraduate degree program and undertaken only if enrollment does not preclude full participation in any required credit or non-credit CIR graduate course.

  • If a student has not registered for any classes by the end of the third week of an academic quarter, whether because of a hold on their registration or through a failure to register as they should have, the Dean of Students may place the student on an involuntary leave of absence. This decision will be communicated to the student in writing with an explanation of what the student must do to be permitted to resume study at the University. The involuntary leave will take effect whether the student formally responds or not. The conditions for resumption, when possible, will be decided by the CIR Faculty Chair in consultation with the Dean of Students. 

  • Current academic year course list: Please find the list of approved courses here.

Grades:

  • Pass/fail policy: Students may take one of two classes for a pass (“P”): INRE 49700—Reading and Research in International Relations or ENGL 33000—Academic and Professional Writing. In exceptional circumstances, and no later than the sixth week of the quarter, a student may submit a formal written petition for permission to take any class they are currently enrolled in for a “pass.” This petition must include the course syllabus and must be sent to the Associate Director and the course instructor, who must both grant consent. Receiving a “P” in this course would then constitute the single non-quality grade allowed as part of the program of study.

  • No-audit policy: Students may not formally audit a class (register for an “R.”)

  • Minimum GPA: Students must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA across all graded courses. If the overall GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of any quarter, students will be required to meet with the Associate Director to discuss their academic progress and to plan for subsequent quarters.

  • Excused incompletes/missing grades: Students with a missing grade or an incomplete (“I”) must communicate with the Associate Director to discuss their circumstances. If all required course work has been submitted, the Associate Director will formally excuse the missing grade or incomplete. 

  • Failed/withdrawn courses: Students who receive an “F” or “W” for one of their three for-credit courses in a particular quarter must pay to take another for-credit course to meet their degree requirements.  They must meet with the Associate Director to discuss the timeline for making up that class in future quarters.  Students with more than one “F” or “W” on their transcript must meet with the Associate Director to explore a withdrawal or leave of absence from the program.

MA Thesis Paper: The program requires each student to write an MA thesis paper that is modeled on an academic article (10,500-14,000 words, all inclusive).

  • INRE 46500-MA Thesis Workshop: CIR preceptors conduct three mandatory non-credit workshops to support students as they develop an MA thesis puzzle (autumn quarter), MA paper proposal (winter quarter) and compose MA thesis paper drafts (spring quarter).

  • By the seventh week of winter quarter, students must secure formal approval of their MA thesis paper project from a faculty reader of their choosing as well as their assigned preceptor, who will serve as second reader. All UChicago research and teaching appointees with a doctoral degree qualify as CIR faculty readers. Students secure formal approval by submitting an MA thesis proposal along with an MA thesis topic approval form signed by both readers to the Student Affairs Administrator.   

  • Students who do not have an MA thesis paper proposal approved by the end of winter quarter will receive a grade of incomplete ("I") for the winter quarter MA thesis workshop. Subsequent approval of the proposal will convert this grade from I to IP.

  • Students who do not have an MA thesis proposal approved by the end of April will automatically be assigned a CIR (Senior) Instructional Professor as a faculty reader.

  • Students who have not completed the MA thesis paper within fifteen months of starting the program will be reassigned to work with a CIR (Senior) Instructional Professor as faculty reader.

  • Part-time or reduced course load students may forfeit the opportunity to recruit a faculty reader of their choosing.

  • During the quarter the student applies to graduate, both MA thesis paper readers provide feedback on a first draft and submit a written evaluation of the final draft to the Student Affairs Administrator.  Upon receipt of these evaluations, students will receive a request to upload a final digital copy of the MA thesis paper to UChicago’s Open Access Repository for Documents, Data, and Media. 

Current Academic Year MA Thesis Paper and Graduation Deadlines: CIR is a one-year degree program. Students are expected to complete all program requirements, including the MA thesis paper, and to graduate no later than the summer quarter following their matriculation.

Autumn Quarter 2021 (for December Graduation)

Oct 1     Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on 

               my.uchicago.edu 

               (Oct 30 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65

               penalty fee)

Oct 14    Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Nov 4     Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Nov 16   Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to

               Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar, egenbar@uchicago.edu

Nov 23   All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar

Dec 9     Degree Conferred  

Winter Quarter 2022 (for March Graduation)

Jan 7      Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on 

               my.uchicago.edu 

               (Feb 12 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65

               penalty fee)

Jan 20    Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Feb 10   Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Feb 22   Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to

              Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar, egenbar@uchicago.edu

Feb 24    All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar

Mar 10    Degree Conferred  

Spring Quarter 2022 (for June Graduation)

Mar 25    Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on 

               my.uchicago.edu 

               (Apr 29 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65

               penalty fee)

Apr 7      Submit first draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Apr 28    Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

May 10    Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to

               Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar, egenbar@uchicago.edu

May 12    All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar

May 28    Current quarter grades due at Office of the Registrar

Jun 3       Annual Convocation

Summer Quarter 2022 (for August Graduation)

Jun 17    Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on 

               my.uchicago.edu 

               (July 16 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65

               penalty fee)

Jun 30     Submit first draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Jul 21      Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor

Aug 2      Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to

                Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar, egenbar@uchicago.edu

Aug 4      All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar

Aug 18    Degree Conferred  

CIR Honors: To recognize outstanding students, CIR awards the Master of Arts degree with honors. To be eligible for honors, students must have earned a minimum 3.7 GPA, received a rating of honors on their thesis from both MA thesis paper readers, and been approved for honors by the Faculty Chair after consideration of all aspects of their student record. The honors distinction will be recorded on the transcript by the Office of the Registrar within one quarter of the student’s graduation from CIR.

Academic Probation: If a student has any missing or incomplete course grades at the beginning of an academic quarter and has not been formally excused by the Associate Director, the student may be placed on academic probation. That will be the case whether the instructor for the course has permitted the student to submit their work late or not.

  • Students must meet with the Associate Director to discuss the terms of their academic probation. They will be informed in writing about the expectations for their return to good academic standing, including required coursework and the timeline for completion. The student will be asked to confirm receipt of the probationary document and full comprehension of the probationary terms via writing. 

  • Students who fail to complete any missing work within seven weeks of the quarter in which it was due may be prevented from registering for subsequent academic quarters, until the instructor of record confirms that all course requirements have been met.

  • No permanent notice of probationary status will be made on student transcripts. The probationary policy is designed to help students stay on track for degree completion.

  • If a student is unable to meet the expectations outlined in their probationary document, the student may be subject to dismissal from the university. Students may not transfer to another degree program or apply for a dual or joint degree program at UChicago while on academic probation.

  • CIR will help students maintain steady progress toward degree completion. When necessary, CIR may also draw on available options from the Dean of Students office, including advocating a drop to part-time or reduced course load (RCL) status or a temporary leave of absence, among other measures.

  • Please note that carrying two or fewer incompletes may have repercussions outside the MA program. For example, international students may not meet the definition of full-time status for their continued visa eligibility, or students may find that their loans or outside financial awards are not distributed. Those decisions are not within CIR’s control. Students should contact the Office of International Affairs, Graduate Financial Aid, and the Dean of Students office to see what additional complications may result.

Leave of Absence/Forced Withdrawal: If a student encounters unexpected hardship that makes it difficult to meet the demands of the program, they ought to consult with their preceptor, the Associate Director, and the Faculty Chair about taking a leave of absence. 

  • A formal request for a leave of absence must be submitted to the Student Affairs Administrator and approved by the Faculty Chair. 

  • Students with more than two unexcused incompletes or missing grades may be denied a leave of absence and be asked to withdraw from the program instead.

  • A leave of absence may be granted for up to one academic year (four quarters). Any tuition award from the Social Sciences Division will expire after those four quarters. International students should note that their visa status does not allow for a leave of absence. When feasible, program leadership will explore the alternative of granting reduced course load status instead.

  • Students who are unable to resume studies within 12 months of taking an approved leave of absence must submit a resumption of graduate studies form to the Student Affairs Administrator. Requests for resumption must be approved by the Faculty Chair and the Dean of Students.

  • Requests from students with incomplete or missing grades must certify that the instructor(s) of the course(s) in question continue to accept outstanding assignments from the returning student.  Alternatively, arrangements to register and pay for additional course credit to satisfy all program requirements must be made.

  • Approved requests for resumption of study will stipulate a timeline for degree completion.  Failure to meet this timeline will prompt dismissal from the University.

  • Requests from students who would be unable to complete all degree requirements within ten years of their initial matriculation into CIR will be denied.