International Studies

Globalization has become a common term. Yet, the world is without a world government. The paradox of the globalizing world without a world government creates innumerable problems in international relations. An unregulated globalizing economy has led to economic collapses for example, while a lack of common policy has led to disastrous changes in climate. The absence of the world government is making effective solutions hard to come by because such solutions will require many national governments to cooperate more than they have ever done in the past. The responsibilities to handle and resolve crises still rest largely with national governments, while efforts are under way to allow inter-governmental, non-governmental, and corporate organizations to handle some of these issues. Because these issues are so timely and important, they have captured the attention of many academic scholars, resulting in a large body of literature about international studies across social science disciplines. The aim of the International Studies MALS concentration is to address these critical world issues through a range of critical approaches and debates that best prepare students to pursue further studies relating to their individual interests. Adopting a multi-disciplinary lens, these issues are discussed in the context of international phenomena, processes, institutions, and structures drawing from political science, sociology, economics, anthropology, and other relevant disciplines, such as history, geography, and philosophy.

Degree Requirements

MALS students take four classes within the program — Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies, two core courses in their chosen concentration, and the thesis/capstone project — and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

This master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies] (3 credits).
  • Two required core courses to introduce students to International Studies [MALS 71400 and MALS 71500] (6 credits).
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies
  • A master's thesis/capstone project [MALS 79000] (3 credits).

Additionally, written and oral proficiency in a foreign language is strongly recommended.

Core Courses

The two core courses will provide the student with multiple perspectives on international studies in order to prepare her/him to take advanced courses in international studies as well as other relevant disciplines.

MALS 71400: Introduction to International Studies, emphasizes the history of modern international relations and allows students to analyze this history from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Through the study of war and peace, students will learn not only events and actors in modern world history but also international and transnational processes, institutions, and structures of modern international relations.

MALS 71500: Critical Issues in International Studies, is designed to broaden the student’s perspectives and deepen her/his understanding of international studies. The course will normally focus on either human rights or political economy, allowing students to be exposed to both a theoretical literature of the subfield and some of the empirical contexts. Thus, students will learn specific institutionalized processes in human rights or political economy and how they relate to concrete policies and practices on the one hand and abstract international principles and structures on the other.

Together, the two core courses are designed to expose students to a wide variety of contemporary international issues and also prepare students to pursue their individual interests related to international studies. Relevant topics include war and peace, human rights and humanitarianism, poverty and international development, debt and financial crises, oil and energy crises, international and regional organizations, and global governance and globalization. Students may deepen their understanding of topics that interest them through the wide selection of relevant elective courses, which are currently offered at the Graduate Center, as well as their thesis/capstone project research.

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and the Humanities at The Graduate Center.

For related coursework in International Studies, students may look to offerings in the doctoral programs in AnthropologyEconomicsPolitical Science, and Sociology.

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Liberal Studies Research Guide.
Students' contact for International Studies research is reference librarian J. Silvia Cho.

associated faculty

Other faculty, who have taught core courses or electives for this concentration or supervised theses and capstones, include Mark Lewis (History).

International Studies Concentration Faculty