Master of International Studies: Degree Overview

A Master of International Studies (MIS) is a professional and terminal degree. The program is typically designed to expand on the curricular groundwork from a previous degree related to the field to prepare graduates for careers in foreign policy.

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Essential Information

Most programs allow students to focus on a specialization or interest area related to a global issue, such as global trade, public health, economic development, conflict resolution or foreign policy. Or, they might focus on a world region, such as Asia, Latin America, Europe or the Middle East.

Many programs offer students opportunities to participate in internships and study abroad, and most programs require students to complete a capstone project in which students research, analyze and write about policy issues; a thesis is not necessary. MIS programs may also require that students become proficient in a language other than their native language.

Applicants to MIS programs should have some educational background knowledge in social sciences. Most programs require that applicants submit transcripts from previous coursework, a resume and scores from the GRE.

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Master's Degree in International Studies

Programs in international studies focus on regional and global issues impacting societies and nations around the world. Commonly, MIS programs are interdisciplinary and offer students insight on key theories and practical applications to multicultural environments. Coursework typically revolves around areas of economics, history, political science and cultural understanding. Additionally, skills in communication, negotiation and leadership are honed. Students may take courses that address topics such as:

  • Environmental law
  • International policies
  • Trade theory
  • Industrialization
  • Cross-cultural development
  • Political economy

Popular Career Options

An MIS program can lead to careers in diplomacy, public service or government. Graduates can apply their skills to careers dealing with various business or policy matters. They may find positions as:

  • Foreign policy officers
  • Legislative assistants
  • Senior management analysts
  • International services coordinators
  • Export assistants

Selected Career and Salary Information

Foreign policy officers may be employed by the U.S. Department of State. These jobs are paid according to a federal government pay scale. There are nine classes and 14 steps in the pay schedule; some foreign service officers may earn locality pay or earn a hardship or dangerous post differential in addition to their base pay ( reported that the 10th-90th percentile range for legislative assistant salaries was $30,000 to $59,000 in January 2016; the median was $39,708. also reported that the 10th-90th percentile range for import/export agent pay was $28,000 to $53,000; this pay included bonuses, and the median figure was $39,258.

Jobs for management analysts are expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The agency reported that management analyst jobs paid a median salary of $81,320 in 2015.

Students interested in international policies, cultures and law can pursue a master's degree in international studies to prepare for careers as foreign policy officers, management analysts and more.

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