The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

International Relations - MA

Division: Social Sciences
Degree Type: MA

Program Description

The Committee on International Relations (CIR) at the University of Chicago, the nation's oldest graduate program in international affairs, combines intellectual diversity and analytical rigor to provide an especially stimulating environment for students. The small size and scholarly intensity of the Committee ensure that students with differing perspectives challenge each other and come to a more sophisticated understanding of the complicated interaction between the realities of international politics and the requirements of a global morality. The sharp analytical and critical skills the program fosters provide excellent preparation for students, whether they choose to continue their graduate studies in leading doctoral programs, or decide to work in government or the private sector.

Students work closely with Chicago's distinguished faculty in international relations. At the core of the Committee's curriculum is the preparation of a faculty advised thesis that explores a significant problem in international affairs. Another feature of the program is the requirement of two core seminars in international relations and international political economy that introduce state-of-the-art scholarship in international affairs. Students also choose from a wide array of courses, often taught in small seminar-style settings, by faculty from throughout the University in international relations, political economy, development, law, human rights, and regional studies.

Outside the formal classroom setting, students are encouraged to participate in one or more of the University's more than 70 interdisciplinary workshops where they can engage work-in-progress by faculty and peers in their area of research.

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Specific Areas of Focus

  • International Relations Theory, Security, and History
  • International Political Economy and Development
  • Regional Studies and Nationalism
  • Human Rights, Environment, and International Law


Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: January 5

The Committee on International Relations admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Committee on International Relations admits applicants only for the MA degree.

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee Fee waiver information »
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Resume/CV
  6. Statement of Academic Purpose
  7. Writing Sample
  8. Transcripts

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

Within the framework of distribution requirements, students may choose from a wide selection of courses across the academic divisions and professional schools of the University. CIR's distribution requirements encourage students not only to focus on the persistent economic, political, security, and social factors that shape international affairs but also to craft critical and creative responses to the challenges of the present from globalization to terrorism.

To build an intellectual foundation for their MA thesis, students take courses throughout the University. Advised by CIR faculty and preceptors, and within the constraints of distribution requirements, students choose from a wide selection of courses in the academic divisions, the Booth School of Business, the Divinity School, the Law School, and the Harris School of Public Policy. Many other students take a three-quarter sequence in Human Rights, a course incorporating the work of scholars from all parts of the University, including the Divinity and Medical Schools.

By allowing students to take nine courses in 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 similar institutions on the semester system. All students take the Core IR Theory seminar in Autumn Quarter, which provides a foundation for the other coursework at the University.

Costs & Financial Aid

For information on the estimated cost of attendance, please visit the Social Sciences Division website.

Loans for Domestic Students

Admitted students may need to apply for loans (private or federally supported) and/or the federal work-study program to cover any tuition and living expenses not covered by a University award. If you need to subsidize your graduate studies through loans and/or work-study, you will need to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for student loans through the University's Student Loan Administration. Visit the Student Loan Administration to download loan forms and to search the frequently asked questions. Students admitted for Autumn Quarter who wish to be considered for a student loan should submit a loan application to the SLA office by the May 15 priority deadline; notifications concerning loan approval are sent out in the summer. SLA also determines eligibility for the work-study program, but job assignments cannot be made until the student is actually on campus.

Merit-based Scholarships and Fellowships

All applicants who indicate on the graduate application that they would like to be considered for financial aid will be reviewed for merit-based scholarships and fellowships; there are no separate forms to complete. The Division of the Social Sciences has limited resources, which are allocated based on the criteria of academic record and scholarly promise; financial need and U.S. citizenship are not factors. We offer a limited number of partial tuition scholarships (one-third tuition, one-half tuition, two-thirds tuition) along with a very small number of full-tuition awards. Students who we admit without a financial award or with partial tuition scholarships pay the balance of tuition from a combination of their own resources and educational loans.

More financial information »