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.
There are four concentration options available within the MSFS degree:
- Global Politics & Security (GPS)
- International Development (IDEV)
- Global Business, Finance & Society (GBFS)
- 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 18 credits of courses approved for the concentration, including the 3-credit course, MSFS 570 – Navigating Global Landscapes, in the spring semester of year one. Concentrators must take at least 3 credits in each subfield and at least 9 credits in one primary subfield.
- 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:
- Development theory and paradigms
- Key development actors and institutions and their modes of operation
- Specific operational tools and techniques necessary for successful program management
- In-depth knowledge of a specific technical field.
The IDEV concentration requires at least 18 credits of approved courses:
- A required 3-credit Gateway Course (Development Policy: Balancing Market Failure and Government Failure) in the first year
- At least 3 credits of development economics coursework
- At least 12 additional credits selected from among a list of approved electives
- 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, Finance & Society (GBFS)
The Concentration gives students a solid understanding of private sector view-points, metrics and motivations and the relationships between business, government and civil society.
The Concentration therefore provides a mix of technical skill, business and societal viewpoints designed to grow students as “cross-sector athletes” – professionals who have the skills, understanding and fluency to navigate and succeed in the public and private sectors, or at the intersection between them.
Students must successfully complete at least 18 credits of approved courses, consisting of:
- A required 3-credit gateway course (MSFS 515-Foundations of Corporate Finance) taken in the first year
- 15 additional credits selected from a pre-approved list which must
include at least one course from two of the three subfields outlined
To fulfill the above requirements GBFS concentrators may seek to enroll in courses offered by other graduate programs, including the McDonough School of Business, the Georgetown University Law School and the SFS International Business Diplomacy certificate program.
- Business & Society: Courses that focus on the relationship between business and society – subjects include Social Impact, Regulation, Sustainability, Corporate Diplomacy, Government Relations
- Trade: Courses that focus on the practical aspects and importance of trade to economic growth and International Relations
- Finance: Courses that focus on somewhat more specific skills or sectors – subjects include Emerging Markets, Project Finance, Strategy Finance & Valuation, Energy
Students interested in designing their own concentration must propose a study plan comprised of 18 credits of clearly-related/relevant courses. This concentration option is developed with the advice of a faculty member and approved by the MSFS Curriculum Committee. Some students may wish to develop a multidisciplinary specialization in a particular region or field. Students should first look to existing concentrations and certificates before proceeding with a self-design concentration proposal.
Recent examples of self-designed concentrations include Science, Technology, and International Affairs. Students pursuing a comparative and/or regional focus might 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.
Given the breadth of MSFS Concentrations and availability of graduate certificates, few MSFS students elect to pursue the self-designed option.