Policies and Requirements
Our MA programs support our students to help assure a timely completion of their degree requirements. We particularly wish to avoid seeing students fall behind and take on additional costs in subsequent quarters if they are unable to complete their outstanding coursework.
The requirements and policies below are meant to serve as a guide to ensure that each student is well-positioned to earn our MA degree in a timely and supported manner.
Students with questions about program requirements and milestones should contact E.G. Enbar (firstname.lastname@example.org) CIR Student Affairs Administrator. Students may also contact Brett Baker (email@example.com), Associate Dean of Students in the Social Sciences, and Amanda Young (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director, Graduate Student Affairs in UChicagoGRAD.
All CIR students must complete the following requirements to receive their MA degree:
- Complete nine graduate-level UChicago courses for credit and earn a minimum 3.0 GPA (graduate courses are indicated by a call number of 30000 and higher)
- Satisfy the CIR course distribution requirements for these nine graduate-level courses (see below)
- 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
- Complete an MA thesis paper with the approval of both a faculty reader and an assigned preceptor
- 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
Full-time MA students register for three graduate courses per quarter. BA/MA students also enroll in three graduate courses but may also enroll in a fourth undergraduate class as necessary.
All students must complete two of the three available core seminars: INRE 43000 (International Order and Security), INRE 43800 (International Political Economy), and INRE 43100 (Global Governance, Rights, and Norms).
Every quarter prior to course registration, CIR publishes a list of approved courses. Seven (7) of the nine (9) for-credit courses a student completes must be on this list. Take a look at the current list 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.
Each course is assigned to at least one of 5 fields of study:
- International Security, Conflict Studies and Contentious Politics
- International Political Economy and Development
- Comparative Studies in Political Institutions and Identity
- Human Rights, Environment, and International Law
- Research Methods in the Social Sciences
To satisfy CIR’s course distribution requirements, students must meet all of the following requirements:
- Of the seven for-credit elective courses, a student must complete three courses in each of two fields of study (a total of six courses). A course assigned to more than one field of study can only count toward one of a student’s chosen pair of fields.
- Of the seven for-credit elective courses, six must be offered 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.
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.
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 preceptor. 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.
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.
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.
Students may not formally audit a class (register for an “R.”)
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.
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.
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). All students must complete three mandatory non-credit workshops to support students they develop an MA thesis (INRE 46500). This non-credit course helps students develop an MA thesis puzzle (autumn quarter), prepare a 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.
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. Graduation deadlines for each quarter are listed below.
2023 - 2024 Cohort: March 1 is the deadline to submit the signed MA Paper Approval Form and MA Paper Proposal to email@example.com.
Autumn Quarter 2023 (for December Graduation)
September 30 - Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on my.uchicago.edu (Oct 28 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65 penalty fee)
Oct 13 - Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Nov 3 - Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Nov 17 - Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar.
Nov 24 - All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar
Dec 9 - Degree Conferred
Winter Quarter 2024 (for March Graduation)
Jan 6 - 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 19 - Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Feb 9 - Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Feb 23 - Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar.
Feb 23 - All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar
Mar 9 - Degree Conferred
Spring Quarter 2024 (for June Graduation)
Mar 23 - Complete and submit Application for a Degree electronically on my.uchicago.edu (Apr 20 – final day to withdraw from Convocation list without $65 penalty fee)
Apr 5 - Submit first draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Apr 26 - Submit final draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
May 15 - Faculty advisor and preceptor submit MA paper evaluation form to Student Affairs Administrator, E. G. Enbar.
May 17 - All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar
Jun 1 - Annual Convocation
Summer Quarter 2024 (for August Graduation)
Jun 15 - 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 28 - Submit first draft of MA paper to preceptor and faculty advisor
Jul 19 - 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.
Aug 2 - All grades from prior quarters due at the Office of Registrar
Aug 17 - Degree Conferred
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.
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.
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.
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.