Each MSFS student chooses one of the following fields of concentration. Each concentration includes 18 credits of coursework including at least one concentration-specific gateway/foundational course. Students may choose to specialize within a particular concentration by focusing coursework in a subfield. 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.

There are four concentration options available within the MSFS degree:

  1. Global Politics & Security (GPS)
  2. International Development (IDEV)
  3. Global Business & Finance (GBF)
  4. Self-Designed Concentration

Global Politics and Security (GPS)

Designed to prepare students to be foreign affairs practitioners and analysts in an increasingly complex global environment, the GPS degree places a premium on breadth of knowledge across disciplines to include history, politics, economics and culture. 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 are required to take at least six courses approved for the concentration, including (a) a workshop in their third semester in the program, and (b) MSFS 600, “Ethics and Decision Making,” in the second semester. Concentrators must take at least one course in each subfield and at least three courses in one primary subfield.

GPS Subfields

  • U.S. & Comparative Foreign Policy: includes courses on major policy issues and comparative foreign policy formulation. Focuses on other policy and implementation approaches and institutions charged with national policy making.
  • Security & Conflict Management: develops knowledge about the causes of international conflict, approaches for resolving conflict and the use of force and political tools in conflict management. Potential topics of focus may include proliferation, criminal mafias, civil strife in weak states and asymmetric threats on the national and multinational level.
  • Global Institutions & Transnational Challenges: focuses on international organizations, law and transnational issues. It recognizes that many pressing issues of contemporary era (i.e. terrorism) cannot be addressed by individual national action alone. The tools and techniques of multilateral diplomacy are explored.

International Development (IDEV)

Bridging theory and practice, the IDEV concentration facilitates the mastering of various theories, frameworks and concepts and then testing and applying these in operational situations. It prepares professionals to work in a complex and rapidly evolving field. By the end of the program, IDEV students will have explored four key areas:

  1. development theory and paradigms
  2. key development actors and institutions and their modes of operation
  3. specific operational tools and techniques necessary for successful program management
  4. in-depth knowledge of a specific technical field.

The IDEV concentration requires at least six approved courses:

  • a required Gateway Course (Development Orthodoxies) in the first year
  • at least one economics course
  • one second-year workshop selected by the students from two currently offered:
    • Managing Development (focused on specific field operations skills)
    • Managing International Security and Development (emphasizing policy research, advocacy and implementation)
  • at least three additional courses are selected from among a list of approved electives

IDEV Subfields

  • Conflict & Humanitarian Response: students examine the strategies, mechanisms, and operational requirements to respond to humanitarian crises and effectively manage development programs in challenging post-conflict environments.
  • Economics & Social Development: at both the national policy level and individual firm level, economic courses analyze the key drivers of growth and economic development in specific regional contexts and key sectors that either promote or constrain national development.
  • Governance & Political Development: explores 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.

Global Business and Finance (GBF)

Providing 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 GBF degree is designed for professionals interested in 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.

This concentration prepares students not only for careers in business, but also in the not-for-profit and government sectors. GBF graduates pursue careers in international banking, energy and other industry sectors, consultancies, development banks, as well as with public sector organizations.

Students must successfully complete at least six approved courses, consisting of:

  • a required gateway course (MSFS 515-Foundations of Corporate Finance) taken in the first year
  • a required Workshop taken the second year
  • at least four additional courses selected from a pre-approved list
  • one course in Advanced or Applied Finance and one course in Advanced Trade.

GBF concentrators may seek to enroll in courses offered by other graduate programs, including the International Business Diplomacy program and McDonough Business School, where course availability is governed by a cooperative agreement.

GBF Subfields

  • Strategy: 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.
  • Business, Government & Society: Courses that address relationships between business, government and civil society. These courses focus on skills in issue and agenda analysis, public policy, regulation, technology and innovation, advocacy and strategic communications.

Self-designed Concentration

Students interested in designing their own concentration must propose a study plan comprised of six clearly-related courses. This concentration is developed with the advice of a faculty member and approved by the MSFS Director. Some students may wish to develop a multidisciplinary 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 and a clearly outlined proposal of the course of study.