Questions and Answers

  1. What courses count for the theory requirement?

    • SIS 672 Theories of Comparative and Regional Studies
    • SIS 601 Intro to Theory in Intl Relations
    • SIS 665 Intl Trade and Investment Relations (Prerequisite: Intl Econ, SIS 616)
    • SIS 666 Intl Monetary and Financial Relations (Prerequisite: Intl Econ, SIS 616)
    • SIS 640 International Communication
    • SIS 689 Approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis
    • SIS 581 Schools of Thought in US Foreign Policy
    • SIS 660 Environment and Politics
    • SIS 661 Global Environmental Politics and Policy
    • SIS 607 Peace Paradigms
    • SIS 637 Intl Development

  2. Which courses count for the 5 general units that can transfer up from WCL to SIS?
    Most general courses in international law may fulfill the requirement, as may courses from the Chile or Paris/Geneva programs. If in doubt, please check with the JD/MA program director.

  3. Which courses count for the economics requirement at WCL?
    Any upper level international law class that focuses on business, trade or economics may fulfill the requirement. Again, if in doubt, please check with the JD/MA program director.

  4. What is the language requirement and how does one satisfy it?
    The requirement is proficiency in a modern foreign language. The requirement can be satisfied in a number of ways. Please see the following website for additional information:

  5. Do the language courses count toward the degree requirements?
    Language courses do NOT count toward the total of 101 units, but in some cases can be used to meet the language requirement.

  6. What are the requirements of an internship and can they be paid?
    To receive 3 research or elective credits for an internship, students are required to work a minimum of 180 hours over the course of the semester for which the internship is registered. Internships can be paid and must be international and substantive in nature. In order to register for an internship for SIS credit, students must submit paper registration forms, approved by both a faculty member in SIS and their job site supervisor, to the JD/MA academic advisor in SIS. Deadlines for each semester apply.

  7. Do skills institutes count as a methods course? When do I register for skills institutes? Are there any skills institutes I can't take?
    Skills institutes DO count as methods courses, as long as a student has taken at least 3 of them. Students can register for them at anytime before the institutes begin and can drop them at anytime before they meet. Students can register for or drop the institutes on-line up until the end of the University add/drop deadline but must contact the JD/MA academic advisor once this deadline had passed.

  8. Will my journal article count for the WCL portion of the writing requirement?
    The journal article counts for the WCL writing requirement as long as it is on an international topic.

  9. What other papers count for the WCL portion of the writing requirement?
    The Upper Level Writing Requirement counts for the WCL portion of the writing requirement. It may be satisfied by writing a single topic paper of not less than 30 pages in connection with a law school seminar or other law school activity typcially of three credit hours, as long as it is prepared under faculty supervision. Textual footnotes which contain substantial legal analysis (i.e., such as are found in student scholarly journals) may count against the page length requirement only with the consent of the faculty member supervising the project. The 30 page minimum length may be varied when the supervising faculty member determines in the exercise of her or his discretion that exceptional circumstances exist which warrant such action. Students must remember to let the JD/MA academic advisor know with which course they have completed this requirement.

  10. What is the oral comprehensive examination?
    The oral comprehensive exam consists of three questions designed to ensure that the student has a mastery of the field of international affairs as it relates to their JD program. The exam is given toward the end of a student's program, and it is expressly the responsibility of the student to contact the JD/MA program director to arrange a time to fulfill the requirement.

  11. How do the Chile and Paris/Geneva study abroad programs fit into the JD/MA program?
    The two classes, international law and economic law, will fulfill the general international law JD/MA requirements and/or the economics requirement.

  12. What level SIS classes count for the JD/MA program?
    Any SIS class that is 500 or above will count for the program.

  13. When can JD/MA students start taking MA classes?
    JD/MA students may begin taking courses after the 2ND semester of law school (summer or fall semester).

  14. If I leave the Washington, DC area because I have completed my JD, passed the bar and found a job in another state, is it still possible to complete the remaining requirements of the MA?
    Yes. Students can do an independent studies and research anywhere in the world and be supervised by a faculty advisor. The skills institutes are offered on weekends to allow out of town students the opportunity to take weekend trips back to Washington, D.C. to complete this requirement. Additionally, the oral comprehensive exam can be administered by email.

  15. What are the residency requirements for the SIS MA program? Do they require students to enroll in a certain number of courses at main campus? If so, how many courses/credits? At which juncture should these be fulfilled?
    Students need to take a minimum 21 hours on main campus, which is about 7 classes. These have to be SIS classes; however, independent studies and internships can be completed anywhere as long as they are registered in SIS. All students entering the SIS program must reserve a minimum of 6 credits for the semester after they graduate from WCL. Students must finish their JD program before they complete the MA program.

  16. Is it possible to spend my last summer studying for the bar and starting a firm job while postponing my remaining SIS requirements to the fall term? If so, can I complete the required courses in the evenings while employed? If so, can this be done in one semester?
    Yes, a lot of students postpone their last semester to the fall term. Courses are offered in the evenings, but it usually takes 2 semesters to complete the requirements if the student is working full time.

  17. Can I take classes at a University other than American for the final semester of the MA?
    The final semester must be completed through American University; however, the student may complete independent studies, internships, and research anywhere in the world as long as they are registered in SIS. Transfer credit from other universities is NOT accepted.

  18. What are my options for my 3rd summer in the program?

    • Students can take the bar, start work in September and finish classes in the evening - note most SIS graduate classes are offered in the evening. OR
    • Students can take a summer associate position, take classes in the fall and take the bar in the following February. OR
    • Students can finish course work during the summer and fall, start a job in the fall and make arrangements with an employer to take the bar in February.

  19. How long is the JD/MA program?
    The program length is a minimum of 3½ years. Students receive their law degrees at the end of 3 years and their Masters degree at the end of 3½ years.

  20. If I select my courses carefully with an eye towards fulfilling the MA and JD requirements simultaneously, how long will it take to complete the joint degree program? What if I am a part-time student, how long will it take to complete the program, assuming that courses are selected carefully?
    The program is 3½ years for full-time JD students. The program is 4½ years for part-time student, but can be completed in 4 if the student graduates from law school in 3½.

  21. Is it possible to spend my last semester in the JD/MA program abroad? Does this require that I fulfill all of SIS required courses during the 2nd and 3rd year, leaving only a field component to be fulfilled for the last semester? Does SIS offer courses and/or internships abroad? What are some possible study abroad internships?
    It is possible to spend the last semester abroad. The final semester can be used to fulfill any remaining requirements.

    The Graduate Research Center on Europe provides an academic learning environment for graduate level research in European studies, international affairs, law, the social sciences and humanities. The Center is open to students enrolled in graduate degree programs and to advanced undergraduates in the United States or other countries. It is also open to those who have already completed a Bachelor's or Master's degree and who want to continue their academic studies or professional training in Europe on an independent basis.

    The University Career Center can be used to find additional resources on internships abroad. SIS has occasional summer abroad programs in Cuba, Malaysia and Mexico. Also there is an exchange program between American University and Sciences-Po in Paris.

  22. I am a full time law student at WCL with an interest in the SIS MA program. If I did not apply to the Master’s program prior to enrolling at WCL, is it too late to apply during my 1st year?
    No. JD students may apply anytime during their enrollment in law school. If you are already a law student:

    1. Obtain and complete the form from the Asst. Dean of Academic Services & Registrar
    2. Ask the registrar’s Office to send your file to the SIS admissions office.

  23. 23. What are the additional costs for JD/MA students to obtain an SIS degree? Is it possible to receive federal funding for the MA program, if a student has taken out the maximum aid for law school?
    Full-time law school students do not pay anything additional, up to the 17-credit limit, while they are enrolled in the JD program. When taking summer courses during the 1st or 2nd summer, the student pays the law school tuition. In the final SIS-only semester, students are charged as regular SIS students: tuition per credit plus University and SIS fees. During this SIS-only semester, students can apply for federal aid. Additionally, students can post-pone repayment of law school loans while enrolled at least half-time in SIS.

  24. What resources can I use to secure an internship?
    In addition to the Career Center at WCL, students are more than welcome to use the full resources of the main campus Career Center.

  25. How do I register for SIS courses?
    Students can register for SIS courses on-line at my.american. Questions should be directed to the JD/MA academic advisor.

  26. What if I have a question which was not answered in this website?
    Please contact the JD/MA academic advisor.

  27. Who is the JD/MA academic advisor?
    Kaitlin Capobianco
    Graduate Academic Advisor
    School of International Service
    American University
    Phone: (202) 885-1659