Concentrations

Each MSFS student chooses one of the following fields of concentration. The requirements of each concentration include one three-credit "workshop" taken in the fall of the second year and five other courses specified by the particular concentration.

 

GLOBAL POLITICS AND SECURITY

Chair: Prof. Nicole Bibbins Sedaca

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

The Global Politics and Security Concentration is designed to prepare students to be foreign affairs practitioners and analysts in an increasingly complex global environment.  This environment places a premium on breadth of knowledge across disciplines to include history, politics, economics and culture.  It rewards those with an understanding of and appreciation for the tools of statecraft, which includes diplomacy, coercion and intelligence.  It requires an understanding of the "drivers" of contemporary change: forces of globalization including information technology, the impact of values and nationalism on politics, demographics, resource scarcity and global warming among others.

Students in this concentration should be able to relate theory to practice and to understand the dynamics of significant, contemporary geopolitical challenges and conflicts.

Students in the Global Politics and Security Concentration are required to take at least six courses in total relevant to and approved for the Concentration, including (a) a workshop in their third semester in the program, and (b) for students entering the program in Fall of 2010 onward, MSFS 600, "Ethics and Decision Making," in any semester before completing the degree. (MSFS 600 is tailored to and limited to Concentrators, and geared chiefly to sharpening professional decision-making capacity rather than abstract philosophy.)

Concentrators must take at least one course in each subfield and at least three courses in one primary subfield. A student should seek to demonstrate breadth and depth within the concentration. Students can expect questions drawn from across subfields in their oral exams in their final semester. Depth in the concentration can be reinforced by appropriate work or intern experience.

U.S. and Comparative Foreign Policy – This subfield includes courses focused on and other policy formulation and implementation approaches.  This subfield focuses on institutions charged with national policy making.  It includes courses on major policy issues and on comparative foreign policy formulation and decision making. An understanding of the critical roles of negotiation and diplomacy are central to the subfield .

Security and Conflict Management – This subfield is designed to develop knowledge about the causes of international conflict, approaches/techniques for managing and resolving conflict and the use of force as well as political tools in conflict management. A broad range of security challenges and responses such as proliferation, criminal mafias, civil strife in weak states and asymmetric threats are topics of potential focus in this subfield. Courses in this subfield explore both national and multinational approaches to dealing with security challenges and conflict.

Global Institutions and Transnational Challenges – This subfield focuses on international organizations, international law and trans-national issues.  It recognizes that many of the most pressing issues of contemporary era – global warming and terrorism for example – can not be addressed by individual national action alone. The tools and techniques of multilateral diplomacy are explored.

Students in this concentration will find relevant courses in the other two MSFS concentrations as well as in other School of Foreign Service programs.

Students in the Global Politics and Security Concentration are required to take a workshop in their third semester in the program and five other courses relevant to the concentration.

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

 

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Chair: Prof. Erwin Tiongson

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

The International Development (ID) Concentration prepares professionals to work in a complex and rapidly evolving field. There is no single or clearly defined 'career path' for MSFS graduates, and graduates typically move across organizational, technical and disciplinary boundaries. Over the course of their careers, they may work for bilateral development agencies, multilateral and/or international organizations, foundations, development consulting firms, civil society advocacy, private firms and private sector associations.

A core theme of the ID Concentration is bridging theory and practice: mastering various theories, frameworks and concepts and then testing and applying these in operational situations. By the end of the program, ID students will have received a thorough grounding in four key areas: (a) development theory and paradigms; (b) key development actors and institutions and their modes of operation; (c) specific operational tools and techniques necessary for successful program management; and (d) in-depth knowledge of a specific technical field.  

Course offerings are organized around three specific technical subfields:

Conflict and Humanitarian Response -- examining the strategies, mechanisms, and operational requirements to respond to humanitarian crises and effectively manage development programs in challenging post-conflict environments. 

Economics and Social Development -- at both the national policy level and individual firm level, economic courses analyze the key drivers of growth, supplemented by an examination of economic development in specific regional contexts and key sectors (such as health and education) that either promote or constrain national development.

Governance and Political Development -- exploring the relationship between governance and economic development, the role of the state in development, the significance of democratization and the specific challenges of different regions of the world. 

The International Development Concentration requires that a student successfully completes a total of at least six approved courses. These consist of:

  • a required Gateway Course ('Development Orthodoxies') in the first year, 

  • at least one economics course, selected by the student from a list of several approved courses;

  • one second-year Workshop selected by the students from two currently offered -- Managing Development (focused on specific field operations skills), or Managing International Security and Development (emphasizing policy research, advocacy and implementation); and

  • at least three additional courses are selected from among a list of electives approved for this Concentration.

Students should balance a breadth of courses (e.g., taking at least one course in each of the three technical subfields) with a focus in a specific substantive area and development of a defined set of hard skills. Relevant courses are also offered by other MSFS Concentrations, as well as the School of Foreign Service, and ID students are encouraged to explore cross-cutting issues examined in complementary courses.

Formal ID courses are supplemented by periodic intensive Clinics, which help students develop specific and highly demanded skills in proposal writing, program operations and project management. Students are encouraged to supplement courses with relevant internship experience(s) that will contribute to their academic and professional success.

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

 

 

GLOBAL BUSINESS AND FINANCE

Chair: Prof. David Wallis

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

The Global Business & Finance (GBF) concentration provides students a solid grounding in functional, business-related skills with an emphasis on the dynamic political, economic and social contexts within which international business takes place.  The building of functional skills, combined with training in the global business context, prepares students not only for careers in business, but in the not-for-profit and government sectors as well.

The GBF concentration is designed for students with professional interests in global private sector firms, public sector agencies and not-for-profit organizations that make heavy use of business tools, practices and processes, that interact heavily with the private sector and government agencies involved in international commerce, or that make and regulate commercial policy. Graduates pursue careers in international banking, energy and other industry sectors, consultancies, development banks, as well as with public sector organizations such as government regulatory agencies, investment agencies, commerce and trade promotion agencies, and government economic ministries.

To prepare students in these areas, students are exposed to courses that cover topics such as corporate finance, project finance, quantitative analysis, corporate governance, strategy, risk assessment and management, regulation, business-government relations, trade, cross-border investment, and international economic institutions. In addition, several courses are offered with content relevant to emerging markets. To augment their coursework and both to broaden and deepen their knowledge in these areas, students are encouraged to acquire relevant internship experience that will contribute to their academic and professional success.

To achieve these results, students must successfully complete at least six approved courses. These consist of:

  • A required gateway course, MSFS 515-Foundations of Corporate Finance, taken in the spring of the first year
  • A required Workshop taken in the Fall of the second year which will help students develop and practice leadership and problem-solving skills
  • At least four additional courses selected from a pre-approved list

Students must also take at least one course in Advanced or Applied Finance and one course in Advanced Trade.  These courses are specifically oriented towards quantitative skills such as financial statement analysis, corporate finance, investment analysis, valuation, financial risk assessment, trade, business negotiations, quantitative analysis in decision-making, capital structure, accounting, project finance, and managerial economics.

Included within the list of GBF-approved courses are courses designated as “Strategy” and courses designated as “Business, Government & Society.”  Students are encouraged to take at least one course in each of these categories, in addition to the Advanced Finance and Trade requirements, in order to achieve balance among key skills and knowledge areas that are necessary for students to be effective business practitioners in a complex and dynamic global economy.

The Strategy category includes courses that prepare the student for careers in management and consulting. Strategy, competitive analysis, industry and market analysis, risk assessment and risk management, negotiation, marketing, operations, management, and problem solving are some of the skills developed in this category.

The Business, Government & Society category includes courses that address the highly interactive and important relationships between business, government and civil society. Courses in this subfield address skills in issue and agenda analysis, public policy, regulation, technology and innovation, advocacy and strategic communications.  Students taking courses in this subfield will be exposed to how companies interact with governments on a national, transnational and global basis.

GBF concentrators may seek to enroll in courses offered by other graduate programs, including the International Business Diplomacy (IBD) program and McDonough Business School, where course availability is governed by a cooperative agreement. Business School courses are half-semester, 1.5 credit classes that must be "paired" with a second 1.5 credit course in the same semester to complete the student's registration.  Enrollment in courses, particularly non-MSFS courses, is not assured.  Questions about how to register for any non-MSFS courses should be directed to Sarah Krauss, Director of Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Concentration Chair.  

View an illustrative list of concentration courses.

SELF-DESIGNED AND REGIONAL & COMPARATIVE STUDIES

Students interested in designing their own concentration must propose a study plan comprised of five clearly-related courses plus a relevant workshop. This concentration is developed with the advice of a faculty member and approved by the MSFS Director.

Some students may wish to develop a multi-disciplinary specialization in a particular region. They may choose a comparative and/or regional focus and develop a historical background in their area as well as an understanding of the economic, political and socio-cultural issues in the region. Regional specializations require appropriate language skills (language classes do not count toward the MSFS degree). The proposal should (1) clearly describe the goal and coherence of the course of study and (2) outline, semester by semester, a set of courses that will achieve the student's goal. (This plan needs to be flexible enough to accommodate uncertainties regarding course schedules.) Regardless of the definition and configuration of the concentration, it must include exposure to those functional areas essential for professional success.