The Best International Relations Master’s Programs
The top 10 programs for those looking to run the world.
These rankings are part of the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey, conducted by Paul C. Avey, Michael C. Desch, James D. Long, Daniel Maliniak, Susan Peterson, and Michael J. Tierney. All additional information provided was added by Foreign Policy and is not part of the survey results.
1. Georgetown University
Program size: 500-600
Program cost: $41,056/year
Star professors: Madeleine Albright, Daniel Byman, Victor Cha, Charles Hagel, Paul Pillar
Georgetown offers a variety of master’s programs within the IR field, including an M.S. in foreign service and a program in security studies. The extremely selective School of Foreign Service offers a two-year program in which course work is supplemented by mentorship from IR professionals; notables in the past have included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former USAID Director Andrew Natsios (a Georgetown alum).
2. Johns Hopkins University
Program size: 600
Program cost: $36,962/ year
Star professors: Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Lampton, Michael Mandelbaum
Johns Hopkins offers an M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, an interdisciplinary program that allows students to concentrate on a particular area of the field, such as international development, or a particular geographic region, such as African Studies. The two-year program also emphasizes language skills, offering courses in 16 languages.
3. Harvard University
Program Size: 568
Program Cost: $43,212/year
Star Professors: Joseph S. Nye, Richard Clarke, Stephen M. Walt
The highly selective master of public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government includes an option for a concentration in international and global affairs, geared specifically toward students seeking to join the ranks of international policy wonks. The all-star faculty list includes multiple former presidential advisors.
4. Princeton University
Program size: 165
Program cost: $38,620
Star professors: John Ikenberry, Robert Keohane, Anne-Marie Slaughter
The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs offers not only offers a top-notch program, it also prides itself on generous fellowship funding to help students offset costs. Students also benefit from its many affiliated programs. For example, the World Politics journal is published by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
5. Tufts University
Program size: 279
Program cost: $37,344
Star professors: Stephen Bosworth, Daniel W. Drezner, Leila Fawaz, Alex de Waal
Tufts’ Fletcher School offers a variety of programs spanning the school’s three major divisions: International Law and Organizations; Diplomacy, History, and Politics; and Economics and International Business. The programs range from 1-2 years and can be supplemented through joint partnerships with Harvard Law School, among others.
6. Columbia University
Program size: 900
Program cost: $41,472
Star professors: Jagdish Bhagwati, Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz
Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) offers a master’s of international affairs that stresses real-world application, including proficiency in a foreign language, a robust internship program, and workshops that present real assignments for students working for different organizations. The international fellows program, open to all graduate-degree programs at Columbia, provides a unique opportunity for students to “examine the origins of the current international order” during a two-semester seminar that includes discussion groups and trips to the United Nations and Washington, D.C.
7. George Washington University
Program size: 640-700
Program cost: $26,530
Star professors: Martha Finnemore, Karl F. Inderfurth, Marc Lynch
The Elliot School of International Affairs offers a variety of MA degrees, including a masters of international policy and practice degree for professionals looking to increase their marketable skills. The school also partners with the London School of Economics and Political Science (#9) to provide a master of international studies degree to students of both institutions.
8. American University
Program size: 800+
Program cost: $25,764
Star professors: Amitav Acharya, Phillip Brenner, James Goldgeier
AU’s School of International Service provides a dedicated international peace and conflict resolution program, which began after students requested more conflict-resolution classes in the 1980s. It’s a fitting move from a school that declared its mission was to prepare students to “wage peace” globally upon its founding in 1957.
9. London School of Economics and Political Science
Program size: 461
Program cost: $27, 256
Star professors: Jeffrey Chwieroth, Katerina Delacoura, Christopher Hughes
One of the oldest international-relations departments in the world (as well as one of the largest), the London School of Economics and Political Science’s IR department provides a number of master’s programs, most based in London. The school also runs a joint program for a master of international studies degree with George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
10. University of Chicago
Program size: 60
Program cost: $44,568
Star professors: John Mearsheimer, Robert Pape
The oldest IR graduate program in the United States, the Committee on International Relations focuses on the more intellectual side of international affairs. Programs are capped by a rigorous M.A. thesis, and courses are focused on producing “intellectual leaders” in the field.
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