Core Curriculum

Our 42-credit Master of International Affairs (M.I.A.) is a two-year program on Penn State's University Park campus. The first year consists of a core curriculum, providing a solid academic grounding in the institutions, traditions, and mechanisms of international exchange. These core courses cover targeted study of critical analytical tools used in multidimensional problem solving, exposure to the most prominent theories of sociocultural interchange, and the professional skills necessary to begin working internationally. To fulfill the 42 credit graduation requirement, most students take an elective in addition to the required core courses listed below. In the third and fourth semesters of study, students enroll in courses specific to their area of concentration and the capstone experience.

Fall Semester

Foundations of Diplomacy and International Relations Theory

INTAF 802 Credits: 3

This course surveys major theoretical paradigms and arguments concerning international relations. Substantive areas include international conflict, international law, international organization, and international political economy. Theories and paradigms considered may include: realism vs. idealism; balance of power; democratic peace; clash of civilizations; liberalism vs. neocolonialism; political causes and consequences of economic globalization (trade, foreign direct investment, and financial flows); rational design of international institutions; domestic vs. international determinants of foreign economic, diplomatic, and security policies; and the role of formal institutions and law.

Global Cultures and Leadership

INTAF 804 Credits: 3

This course introduces students to cultural theories (from global to personal cultural identity issues) and discusses how sociocultural beliefs may impede or accelerate social change. The course aims to link these theories with programs, policies, or practices for social change, such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals initiative, and explores how global issues can be addressed through accessible and affordable education, health care, and technology.

International Economics: Principles, Policies, and Practices

INTAF 506 Credits: 3

This course addresses the principles, policies, and practices in international trade and finance that are fundamental for understanding international economic relations and the future of global economy. The course examines the economic principles underlying behaviors and policies in international and domestic public affairs and explains how to evaluate and conduct economic analyses.

Spring Semester

Actors, Institutions, and Legal Frameworks in International Affairs

INTAF 801 Credits: 3

This course introduces students to the various levels of international interaction and exchange (supranational, state-to-state, state-to-private, private-to-private); the sources and limitations of law and regulation at each level; and the variety of actors and institutions characteristic of each level. The course explores the roles, authority, and limitations of the institutions and actors at each level and the implications of these for domestic and transnational governance, development, human rights, commerce, migration, and civil society.

Colloquium on Current Policy Challenges

INTAF 890 Credits: 3

Colloquium topics vary depending upon the current issues of the day. The course surveys some major transnational challenges caused by structural forces and emerging dynamics, as suggested by the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2040 report. These challenges include climate change; communicable diseases; economic inequality; governance; migration; terrorism; and a contested and transforming international order. The course involves team teaching and guest lecturers. The course lectures are open to the public and made available via webcast. 


Multi-Sector and Quantitative Analysis

INTAF 803 Credits: 3

This course introduces students to the methods, importance, and limitations of statistical, quantitative, and economic analysis within and across various sectors of communities and societies as practiced in such areas as business, law, education, health, environmental, and science policy.