CIR offers a fast-paced, one-year master’s program in International Relations which includes a master’s thesis paper. Over the course of the academic year (September – June) students complete nine substantive courses (three per quarter), 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. Our curriculum consists of:

  • Two required core seminars on foundational topics in international relations
  • Seven graduate-level courses meeting our distribution requirements (see below)
  • Participation in year-long MA thesis workshop series (non-credit)
  • MA thesis
Core Seminars

The core seminars set the foundation for every student’s CIR experience. CIR students must complete two of the three core seminars:

  • International Order and Security
  • International Political Economy
  • Global Governance, Rights, and Norms
Distribution Requirements

CIR students select their courses from a list of approved courses, taught across the University of Chicago on topics related to International Relations. Because we value interdisciplinarity, CIR students must complete at least three courses in two of our five fields of study (a total of 6 courses):

  • 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

Each course on the approved courses list is assigned to one or more 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.

Additionally, of the seven graduate level courses, six of them 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.

MA Thesis Workshop

All CIR students enroll in the non-credit MA Thesis Workshop each quarter, and must receive a grade of “pass” in each quarter. The workshop is conducted by CIR preceptors 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).

MA Thesis

The master’s thesis paper, a piece of rigorous problem-driven research, is the capstone of the program. This paper is modeled on an academic article and is typically 10,500 to 14,000 words (all inclusive).

During autumn quarter, students work with their preceptor on developing their question and topic, as well as choosing a faculty advisor for their paper. 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 then spend spring quarter writing their paper. Students who wish to receive their degree in the Spring University-wide convocation complete their thesis by the spring deadline. Students can also choose to complete their thesis over the summer without any additional enrollment.