» Master of Arts in International Studies

In today’s globalized environment, expertise in international affairs is essential to understanding and working in the contemporary world.

Chapman University’s Master of Arts in International Studies is a two-year interdisciplinary course of study that links global theory and practice. The program prepares graduates for a range of global careers with the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations (UN), U.S. Foreign Service, and other global entities.

Chapman’s  program is distinctive in its interdisciplinary approach to understanding global challenges through its emphasis on applied and experiential education. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty from various disciplines including Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Communication, Peace Studies and Law. International Studies faculty bring to the classroom extensive research and professional expertise from around the world. The International Studies program enhances students’ cross-cultural professional skills through an immersive 240-hour internship experience, chosen from a variety of international careers in non-profit, humanitarian and development work, diplomacy, education, and business. International Studies students culminate their degrees with the MA thesis, which analyzes contemporary global challenges. The International Studies program immerses students in culture and real-world inquiry, offering the language and professional skills necessary to succeed in global professions.

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Admission Requirements & Deadlines

Deadlines for Fall Admission:
  • February 1 – Priority deadline to be considered for fellowships and scholarships. All fall applicants will be MAIS CoHortconsidered for fellowship and scholarship awards.
  • Chapman’s International Studies program offers competitive full and half-tuition fellowships to exceptional applicants. To be considered as an International Studies Fellow, applications must be received by the February 1 deadline. 
  • Applications received after this deadline will be considered on a rolling basis as space is available.
Deadline for Spring Admission:
  • Rolling


To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the following:

  • Application to the Master of Arts in International Studies program
  • Official transcripts must be submitted from ALL degree-granting (bachelor’s or master’s degrees) colleges and universities attended. An official transcript submitted in a sealed envelope which you have received from your college or university is acceptable.
  • A graduate admission test is required for applicants with a bachelor's degree cumulative GPA below a 3.0. Applicants with a GPA between 2.5 and 2.99, may be considered for admission by submitting a satisfactory Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with minimum scores of Verbal: 154, Quantitative: 147, and Analytical Writing: 4.0 or by demonstrating significant relevant professional experience. GRE Institution Code: 4047.
  • Two letters of recommendation, including one from an academic source, which describes your professional and academic abilities.
  • Submit an essay expressing your reasons for wanting to join the MA International Studies program.  What are your personal and career goals, and how will this particular degree from Chapman University help you reach those goals?  Your essay should be double spaced, size 12 font, and 2-4 pages in length.
  • Resume

Accelerated BA/MA in International Studies

MAIS Student AbroadThe Master of Arts in International Studies program offers an accelerated program option for undergraduates that enable students to begin taking MA coursework in their senior year and receive a Master of Arts degree within one year of finishing their undergraduate studies. The program is open to all undergraduate majors that have satisfied the prerequisites for the program and meet the admissions requirements. This interdisciplinary course of study is designed to train students seeking global careers with the U.S. Foreign Service, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations (UN) or businesses.

Admission Criteria

  • Apply to the program during junior year
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.3
  • Interview with the MAIS Director
  • Official transcripts
  • Current Chapman students applying to the accelerated Master's degree program do not require the recommendation letter in their application. Instead, please enter the name, email and phone number for two faculty or staff members at Chapman who support you as a candidate for this program in the online application.
  • A 1,000-word essay addressing your background and interest in the field of international studies
  • Resume
  • GRE scores are waived for accelerated applicants
  • Students are eligible for MAIS scholarship funds once they complete their BA degree

Sample Senior Year Course Schedule for Accelerated Students

Up to 15 credits of graduate coursework can double count for the MA and BA degree programs

Fall (6 units)

  • IS 502 Peace, Conflict and Human Rights
  • IS 680 Cultural Diversity/Ethnic Identities in a Globalized World

Spring (6 units)

  • IS 503 Challenges of Development
  • IS 505 Research Design

Course Study, Internships and Thesis

Course Study

Students complete 39 credits of academic coursework, demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language equivalent to having completed two courses in the language at the 300 level, complete a 240-hour international internship, and successfully complete a master's thesis.


MAIS students complete an international internship between their first and second years of study. These internships immerse students in culture and real-world work overseas, enhancing language and professional skills in the field to which they aspire. For example, past students who hoped to pursue a career in the NGO arena participated in international internships with Global Vision International, the Foundation for Sustainable Development, and others. Students may work with non-governmental organizations in Africa to help alleviate poverty, promote gender equality in Latin America, explore trade issues among countries or firms in eastern Asia, investigate human rights issues in Europe, or assist in developing policy briefs for the U.S. State Department.

Previous Student Internships:

Juliana Moreno ‘09
US Department of State

My summer internship as part of the Masters in International Studies program opened the door to a series of chapters in my life. I was privileged to visit Geneva, Switzerland on two occasions. The first time was part of a fifteen week internship during the summer of 2009. I worked for both the Diplomatic Security Office and the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The second was for a Women’s Leadership conference in December 2009. This visit was sponsored by the Masters of Arts in International Studies program, Wilkinson's College, the Dean of Students and the Chancellor. After my internship I was given the opportunity to work for the US Department of State Los Angeles Field Office as Program Assistant, and after graduating I became part of the civil service. I have had an incredible journey thus far, and I do not expect any less for the future. The experiences were truly eye-opening. It is this kind of motivation that gives me and others the incentive to pursue success. This lesson will continue to guide me throughout my life and work.

Emily Novick ‘09
Global Vision International
Costa Rica

I went to San Francisco de Tortuguero, Costa Rica with a fellow student in the MAIS program. While there we were working on Educational and Community Development projects within the village. At the local school, since me fellow student and I were fluent Spanish speakers, we taught children, ages 5-13 basic subjects like Math in Spanish and for those who desired to learn we would teach private English lessons. One of the other things we started was the planning of an arts and crafts area at the school. We also worked to beautify the school, due to the fact education in that region of the country is not stressed and it was difficult getting the children to attend. We would also spend time on Friday nights with the adults in the community participating in intercambios, or dialogue in English and Spanish, so that all of us could better our skills!

Rory Burke ‘11
Global Starz
Japan, China, Australia, England, Ireland

I worked as On-Site Trip Director for Global Starz, which is a travel sports program that brings American student-athletes overseas. During my internship I was lucky enough to travel all over the world including Japan, China, Australia, England, and Ireland throughout the summer of 2010. I had a tremendous time meeting new people and experiencing new cultures while I was abroad for my internship.

Ashley Romero ‘11
Foundation for Sustainable Development

I did my internship with Educaser under the supervision of The Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) teaching children about environmental issues and how to lead sustainable lives. Participating in an internship in a foreign country and with underprivileged kids was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much about myself and Argentine culture. It was a completely different kind of education, one that can never be found inside the classroom.

Roxanna Sanchez ‘11
Seva Mandir

Through my internship with Seva Mandir, I had the opportunity to become deeply committed towards improving the lives of poor women and the female child in rural villages of Udaipur, Rajasthan. I trained and educated women in regards to women's empowerment as a tremendous resource for social change and a prerequisite in the broader fight against global poverty, development and gender equity. Training and Education taught women in Udaipur about their own rights and how the most profound changes arise when we work not only with the most disempowered, but with the people and structures around them that can assist them with their struggle for a life with dignity. At the end of the day, we all strive for a world in which a person's rights, responsibilities, opportunities and dignity are determined not by their status as male or female, but as a human being.

Dilshan Somaweera ‘11
US Department of State (Bureau of International Organization Affairs)
Washington D.C.

My MAIS coursework, in particular Dr. Kanavou's class, had more than adequately prepared me for the duties that I was asked to assume. Through my internship I was made aware of the complexities of multilateral diplomacy, and the incredible degree of coordination that is required to develop comprehensive solutions for global issues. As an intern in the office of UN Political Affairs (UNP) within the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) I did the following: Drafted memoranda for the US Secretary of State apprising her of the upcoming business to be conducted in the UN Security Council; updated, drafted, coordinated and secured approval for "annotated agenda papers" for the 65th UN General Assembly; wrote briefing papers for the bureau's Assistant Secretary; and coordinated remarks to be delivered in the UN Security Council by the US Permanent Representative or other senior officials.

Derrick Carter ‘14
US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration - Embassy of the United States

My experience was an excellent professional development experience. I had an opportunity to strengthen my relationship management skills, learn diplomacy strategies, and understand the dynamic international environment. Furthermore, the cultural environment of working in an international governmental organization is one you cannot receive by working domestically or Washington D.C. The opportunity to stay on with the international arm of the Department of Commerce is quite limited after the internship, because most positions are classified under the Foreign Service Officer program, which is announced every two years.

All students complete an international internship between their first and second years of study. These 240-hour internships immerse students in culture and work overseas, providing them with professional skills in the field to which they aspire.

Download a list of internship locations of previous students here. 


The International Studies MA thesis has a substantive international focus and incorporates theoretical perspectives. Theses are analytical, and may examine secondary data or original empirical data collected by students. International Studies students select their thesis advisors and committees based on our core faculty research interests.

MA thesis fieldwork may include surveys, interviews, or observations. Students may apply for research funds of up to $1,500 to cover fieldwork expenses. Funding is also available through Wilkinson College’s graduate student Scholarly/Creative grants program.

Financing Your Education

Students Study AbroadChapman University is pleased to announce the MA International Studies Fellows. Each fall, the International Studies program will offer exceptionally qualified applicants full or half-tuition scholarships. (The value of the half scholarship is approximately $25,000, applied over two years.)

The International Studies Program has funding for international internships built in. Students embarking upon their required 240-hour international internships receive up to $2,000 toward their internship expenses.

Students may apply for International Studies research funds of up to $1,500 to cover thesis research fieldwork expenses. Additional funding for thesis research fieldwork and travel to conferences is available through Wilkinson College’s Scholarly/Creative grants program for graduate students.

Additional fellowships are available through the Master of Arts in International Studies Program on a need and merit basis.

Chapman University offers excellent financial support to students. Explore Chapman's generous fellowships, scholarship and loan programs to help you get started today. Please contact a financial aid advisor regarding the financial aid opportunities available to you.

Financial Aid Office
(714) 997-6741
Financial Aid Website

Core Faculty


Dr. Deepa Badrinarayana, Professor of Law

Research Interests: Environmental law, public health law, international trade, corporate social responsibility, South Asia


Dr. Victoria Carty, Associate Professor of Sociology

Research Interests: Transnational social movements, immigration, public sociology


Dr. Claudia Fuentes-Julio

Research Interests: International/universal human rights, the global south, post-conflict transitions


Dr. Lynn , Associate Professor of Sociology

Research Interests: Latin America, gender, development, qualitative methods, social movements


Dr. Minju Kwon, Associate Professor of Political Science

Research Interests: State and non-state actors’ compliance with international law, International human rights, humanitarian law


Dr. Nancy Martin, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Research Interests: South Asia, world religions, global ethics, gender and religion


Dr. Andrea Molle, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Research Interests: East Asia, Europe, religious extremism, warfare and strategic studies


Dr. Crystal , Assistant Professor of Political Science

Research Interests: political economy, post-conflict development, NGOs, sustainability, Middle East and East Africa


Professor Prexy Nesbitt, Presidential Fellow in Peace Studies

Research Interests: Race relations in South Africa, race, multiculturalism and anti-racism and/or diversity in the US, African renaissance


Dr. Raymond , Professor of Economics and Management Science

Research Interests: International economics, applied econometrics, statistics, and forecasting


Dr. Tekle Woldemikael, Professor of Sociology

Research Interests: Africa, nationalism, race and ethnicity, immigrants and refugees

Current Student Resources

Students are required to submit an electronic copy of their thesis for inclusion in the Digital Commons and in ProQuest. There is no cost associated with these submissions. You may find the instructions for submission, the required checklists, and further information here at the Library’s website.
The MAIS program includes a stipend toward internship costs for all students, as well as generous, competitive tuition and research scholarships.

Sigma Iota Rho: The Honor Society for International Studies, Delta Mu Chapter

If you are interested in joining Sigma Iota Rho, please complete the online Sigma Iota Rho Membership Application. Applications are reviewed twice per academic year. The fall deadline is September 20 and the Spring deadline is February 20.

The Honor Society for International Studies, Sigma Iota Rho was first established in 1984 and now claims over 100 chapters on campuses across the nation. The Chapman University chapter, Delta Mu, was established primarily as a means to honor those students who have excelled academically and have shown extracurricular achievement. The purpose of the society is to promote and reward scholarship and service among students of International Studies, and to foster integrity and creative performance in the understanding of world affairs. 

Benefits of membership:

  • Opportunity to attend conferences at the United Nations, World Bank and more
  • Opportunity to receive research and travel grant funding
  • Access to professional networks
  • Certificate attesting membership status Sigma Iota Rho lapel pin
  • Copy of the latest issue of the nationally distributed Journal of International Relations, with an opportunity for contribution to the journal as an author or an editor
  • Free chapter subscription to the Internationalist magazine
  • Graduation regalia: honor cord (included) or stole (discounted purchase)
  • Along with the tangible list of benefits surely come such things as life-long relationships, personal growth, development and realization of the leadership potential, opportunities to deepen one's understanding of international affairs, and have fun!
  • More Details

Membership Requirements:

The Honor Society for International Studies, Sigma Iota Rho, Delta Mu Chapter, was established primarily as a means by which to honor those students who have excelled academically and who have shown extracurricular achievement. The purpose of the Society is to promote and reward scholarship and service among students of International Studies, and to foster integrity and creative performance in the understanding of world affairs.

Your acceptance to Sigma Iota Rho carriers with it the obligation to participate fully in the activities of SIR and to promote the study of International Relations both at Chapman University and throughout your career.

SIR desires only members who are eager to participate in the Honor Society. Given other demands on your time, please only continue with this application if you are willing to contribute to the maintenance and growth of the Delta Mu Chapter of SIR.

To apply you must either be:

  • Master’s candidate for International Studies who has completed at least one semester of graduate level work or
  • An undergraduate with junior or senior standing who has completed at least twenty-one (21) units of coursework in anthropology, economics, foreign languages, history, peace studies, political science, or related disciplines, including two courses at the 300 or 400 level.
  • You must achieve and maintain GPA of 3.3
  • Pay national dues of $70.00
  • Applications are reviewed twice per academic year. The fall deadline is September 20 and the Spring deadline is February 20. If you are interested in joining Sigma Iota Rho, please complete the online Sigma Iota Rho Membership Application.



Contact Us

Crystal Murphy, PhD
Program Director, MA International Studies
(714) 628-2763

David Krausman
Graduate Programs Coordinator
(714) 516-7116

Sharnique Dow
Graduate Admission Counselor
(714) 997-6770

For additional admission information, please contact:
Office of Graduate Admission
888-CU-APPLY or (714) 997-6711