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.
- International Relations and Security
- International Development
- International Commerce and Business
- Self-Designed and Regional & Comparative Studies
International Relations and Security
Chair: Prof. Mark Lagon
The International Relations 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 International Relations 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 in International Relations," 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 are encouraged to 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 International Relations and Security Concentration are required to take a workshop in their third semester in the program and five other courses relevant to the concentration.
Chair: Prof. Michael Morfit
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.
International Commerce and Business
Chair: Prof. Ross Harrison
The goal of the International Commerce and Business Concentration is to equip students with the core skills, disciplines and working knowledge required of international business practitioners and government officials who interact with business in the global economy. Though students in the concentration will pick up functional business-related skills, these will be examined within the context of the dynamic and complex political, economic and social environments within which international business takes place.
The International Commerce and Business concentration is designed for students whose professional interests are with global private sector firms, public sector agencies and institutions that interact with the private sector and government agencies which make and regulate commercial policy. Graduates pursue careers with international businesses spanning multiple industry sectors, international banking firms, consultancies and development banks, as well as with public sector organizations such as government regulatory agencies, commercial foreign-service institutions and governmental economic ministries.
To prepare students in these areas, students are exposed to courses that cover topics such as corporate governance, global strategy, industry structure, business-government relations, capital markets, cross-border investment, foreign direct investment, trade, regulation, business model definition and international economic and commercial institutions. Also, offerings include several courses with content relevant to emerging market business environments. To augment their course work and to both 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.
An International Commerce and Business concentrator must successfully complete a total of six qualifying courses, three of which are required. A gateway course on Corporate and Institutional Finance must be taken in the Spring of the first year. In the Fall of the second year students are required to take either a Global Finance Workshop or a Strategy and Management Problem Solving Workshop. Additionally, students must either take an “advanced strategy” or “advanced finance” course, chosen from among several qualifying offerings (see specific course requirement document for details).
The International Commerce and Business concentration is conceptually organized into the sub-fields of Finance and Consulting, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, and Business, Government & Societal Relations. When considering electives, students are encouraged to take at least one course in each of the subfields.
Finance and Consulting. The skills in this area prepare student for careers with global financial institutions and consultancies.
Courses offered in this area are designed to provide students with the following working knowledge and skills:
- Corporate Finance
- Project Finance
- International Financial Institutions
- Investment analysis
- Private equity and other alternative investment vehicles
- Business math and quantitative analysis
- Financial modeling
- Financial statement analysis
- Business valuation
- Business management and problem solving
Strategy and Entrepreneurship. The skills in this area prepare students for careers in general business management and consulting as well as business research and analysis.
Courses offered are designed to provide students with the following working knowledge and skills
- Commercial, economic, political and sovereign risk analysis
- Industry analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Marketing and market analysis
- Business ethics
- Corporate governance
- Emerging Markets
- Negotiation, communication and business-related research
- Social Entrepreneurship
Business, Government and Societal Relations. The skills in this area prepare students for careers in government relations, civil society and government agencies which interact with business
Courses offered are designed to provide students with the following working knowledge and skills:
- Issue Analysis
- Business and government agenda analysis
- Corporate social responsibility
- Issue management
- Business impact analysis
- Social impact analysis
- International trade policy
- Knowledge of issues of FDI, Climate Change, Public Health, Energy and National Security and Intellectual Property among others
Students may seek to enroll in courses offered by other graduate programs, including the Business School, where course availability is governed by a cooperative agreement. However, many 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. Courses outside the MSFS degree offered in satisfaction of the advanced finance requirement must be approved in advance by the Concentration Coordinator.
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.