The Catholic University of America

MA in International Affairs


Program Description

The Politics Department of The Catholic University of America (CUA) offers a unique program leading to a Master of Arts Degree in International Affairs (MAIA).The Department also offers a Graduate Certificate in International Affairs which requires fewer courses. Originally designed over three decades ago to provide advanced degree educational support to active duty military in the National Capital Region, the program now provides this support to active and reserve members of all the armed services and civilians employed by federal and local government agencies as well as private businesses and non-profit organizations. Graduates of the program can be found in senior public and private positions that literally span the globe. Graduates hold command and staff positions throughout the military services and have been Fellows for the Council on Foreign Relations, Defense Attachés, Senior Fellows at Harvard University, special assistants to Presidential Cabinet Secretaries, senior staff for Members of Congress and congressional committees, and advisors to foreign governments.

The International Affairs Program is designed for the working professional: maximum flexibility for the student combined with a wide range of course offerings. Classes are conducted in the early evening  at the Hall of States near Capitol Hill and Union Station. Small class size facilitates student interchange with each other and with the instructor. The program provides an instructional blend of both highly respected and internationally known academics with very successful individuals who have a wealth of practical experience in their respective fields. All have earned doctoral degrees from distinguished American universities and many have studied at universities in Europe, South America, and the Middle East. The students, many of whom are already actively involved in global affairs, are drawn from a wide variety of academic and experiential backgrounds which greatly enhances the learning experience. The MAIA program is semester based (Fall and Spring), and includes Summer sessions.


Eligibility for admission to the program is based on having attained a Bachelor's Degree (or equivalent) from an accredited institution and a demonstration of the potential to successfully study at the graduate level. GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores must be received by the university before your application will be considered. Complete application requirements and procedures as well as information on tuition and fees are detailed on the University's Graduate Admissions website.  Applications may be filed on-line and, in accordance with CUA's rolling admission policy, at any time.

Admission is by letter from the Associate Dean, Graduate Programs, School of Arts and Sciences.

Program Requirements

Requirements for successful completion of the program are four-fold.

I. Course Work

All students are required to complete a minimum of 30 (thirty) semester hours of course work. All course offerings are three credit hours. A minimum of  24 (twenty-four) credits must be in international affairs and include Introduction to International Affairs (CPOL 500). The remaining six hours must be in another area of politics (e.g. Congressional and Presidential Studies) or a relevant field of study. A maximum of two on-campus courses may be taken only with prior approval from the Director of Capitol Hill Programs.

Up to a maximum of six (6) credit hours may be transferred from other accredited universities or colleges and count as part of the course work requirement. In order to apply for transfer credit, a student must have successfully completed at least four courses in the international affairs program. Application may then be made through the Director of Capitol Hill Programs, with final approval by the academic dean.

II. Demonstrated Research Skill

Demonstrated basic competence in a foreign (non-English) language or an accepted research methodology is required. This is a university requirement for an MA degree which may be fulfilled in a number of ways. The language requirement may be satisfied through either an examination or by non-credit course work offered by CUA. The department offers a number of acceptable research methodology courses that also satisfy this requirement. (NOTE: Research skill courses, if used as a research skill, will not be counted as part of the 30 credits required for the MAIA degree. For more information, please visit

III. Thesis/Seminar Paper

Students are required to complete either a thesis or two seminar level research papers on an approved topic; both options require approval by the Director of Capitol Hill Programs and the instructor.

The thesis is a substantial original research paper prepared under the direction of a member of the faculty; successful completion generally earns six credit hours (two sequential three credit seminar courses).

The second option is to complete two research papers of seminar length and quality; these papers must be completed, approved and signed by a faculty member, and deposited with the Director no later than one month before the comprehensive exam. 

IV. Comprehensive Examination

For degree completion, students must pass a comprehensive written examination in the field of international affairs. Students who have completed the research skill requirement and thesis/seminar paper requirements and essentially satisfied the course work requirements with at least a B average are then eligible to take the comprehensive examinations. Comprehensive examinations are generally scheduled in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Graduate Certificate in International Affairs Studies

The certificate option is available for students who may not be in Washington for an extended time or who are not in a position to commit to the sustained and rigorous study leading to the Master's degree.  Students in the Certifcate program must complete four semester courses or 12 credit hours of graduate study with at least a 3.0 grade point average (one of the four courses must be the introductory course); there are no further requirements.

Applicants are required to have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0.  Applicants to the Certificate program are not required to take the Graduate Record Examination.

Doctor of Philosophy in World Politics

Students who have completed the MAIA and have demonstrated the requisite academic aptitude may seek enrollment in the department's program leading to a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in World Politics. Parts of the MAIA program are directly transferable; e.g. the 30 (thirty) credit hours earned may be applied as a part of the total 54 (fifty-four) credit hours of course-work required for the PhD.