An Interdisciplinary Program

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 security 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 five fields:

  • International Security, Conflict Studies, and Contentious Politics - centers on the defining questions of anarchy, conflict and security competition among and within nation states.
  • International Political Economy and Development - focuses on the causes and consequences of global economic cooperation and integration as well as the challenges posed by the immense welfare gap between various regions of the world for international development.
  • Comparative Studies in Political Institutions and Identity - allows students to investigate political and social processes within the context of a particular region or state. This includes processes of state formation, expressions of nationalist sentiments, identity formation among migrant communities, and the nature of political ideology.
  • Human Rights, Environment, and International Law - 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.
  • Research Methods in the Social Sciences - collects the entire range of methodological approaches that inform cutting edge research in international relations.  Introductory and advanced courses enable each student to tailor their training in statistical, formal, computing, historical, or interpretive methods to best match their chosen MA thesis project.   

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 Sciences 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.