Oral Examination

In the spring of his or her second year, each MSFS student takes the Final Oral Examination, given by a panel of three faculty and/or professionals in the field of international affairs. Students are judged on their ability to present material in a clear, well organized, and articulate manner, and to integrate and apply what they have learned to practical problems in the field of international affairs. Successful completion of the oral examination is a requirement for graduation from the MSFS Program.

Examination Panel

The Final Oral Examination is administered and assessed by a panel of three examiners, which normally includes one member of the Georgetown University faculty and two executives from international business, government or non-profit organizations in the Washington, D.C. community. At least one member of the panel is matched to the student's concentration, and one member is a generalist who tests the student outside his or her field of concentration.


The Oral Examination lasts approximately 50 minutes and is based primarily on: a five-minute oral briefing by the candidate on a subject of his or her choice; topics chosen by the candidate in his or her area of expertise; and the candidate's wider experience as reflected in his or her resume and academic transcript. Each candidate begins the exam with a five-minute oral briefing, delivered without notes, on a topic of his or her choosing. Examiners question the candidate on his or her briefing for about 15 minutes. Questions and responses focused on the candidate's area of concentration last about 20 minutes. For the remaining 15 minutes, the candidate may be questioned on important issues and developments in international affairs outside his or her area of concentration.


Each member of the examination panel grades the candidate separately; the majority determines the candidate's final grade. The result is reported to the candidate in a sealed envelope placed in his or her mail file on Monday after the last exam. Each candidate is graded on the following scale: fail, pass, or pass with distinction. Students who receive the grade of "pass with distinction" have that grade noted on their transcripts. Any student who fails the exam may petition for only one retake; a second failure warrants the termination of degree candidacy in the MSFS program. Each student is encouraged to meet with his or her panel chair after the exam for a debriefing.

Additional Information

Prior to their final semester of study, students receive an informational briefing, a detailed information sheet, and an application for the oral examination. Examinations are held in mid-March each year for students in their final semester of study. Students completing course work in the fall or summer semester may petition for a special examination schedule.