Committee on International Relations (University of Chicago)
The Committee on International Relations (CIR) is a one-year master's degree graduate program in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. It is the oldest international relations graduate program in the United States.
CIR was founded in 1928 by a group of University of Chicago professors, including Hans Morgenthau and Quincy Wright. While CIR is known worldwide for one of the most distinguished programs in the study of international security, CIR faculty and students are also well known for academic work in international political economy, international institutions, globalization, international law, human rights, comparative politics, development and regional studies.
Applicants from CIR come from around the world; about 25 percent of applications and accepted students are from outside the United States. Every year, CIR receives over 300 applicants for roughly 40-50 spots. In the admissions process, applicants are required to provide the standard CIR application, letters of recommendations, a personal statement, a 10-20 page writing sample, and their GRE scores. International applicants from non-English speaking countries also have to provide TOEFL or IELTS scores as all coursework is conducted in American English. Applicants typically have a GPA of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) or higher and must have a BA degree (or similar) from an accredited university. In addition to an applicant's academic background, relevant work experience and fit with the program are also taken into account.
Applications are evaluated by an admissions committee which includes CIR preceptors and CIR faculty.
The combination of intellectual diversity and analytical strength provide a stimulating environment for CIR students. The small size and intellectual rigor of the program ensure that students with differing perspectives will challenge each other and come to a more sophisticated understanding of the complicated interaction between the realities of international politics and international economics. The program provides excellent preparation for students, whether they choose to continue their graduate studies in leading doctoral programs, or decide to work in government or the private sector.
Students take three credited courses per quarter, which constitutes a full-load at the University of Chicago. Of the nine total courses, two are required "Core" classes, including a course on international security and another on international political economy. CIR students also take three mandatory non-credit classes, including two MA thesis workshops in the Fall and Winter quarters and a class taught by the CIR preceptors called "Perspectives on International Relations" in the Fall quarter. With the remaining seven credited courses, students are allowed to take any graduate-level course, with the following three restrictions: (1) seven of the nine courses must be on the CIR-approved course list, (2) at least three courses must be within the Division of Social Sciences, and (3) three courses must be taken in two of the four possible fields of study.
Fields of study
- International Security, Conflict Studies, and Contentious Politics
- International Political Economy and Development
- Comparative Studies in Political Institutions and Identity
- Human Rights, Environment, and International Law
- Research Methods in the Social Sciences
CIR students must also complete a thesis under the guidance of their preceptor and a faculty adviser of their choosing. Students will be aided by the two required MA thesis workshop classes in the Fall and Winter quarters. Each thesis is expected to be between 35-45 pages in length and below 14,000 words.
MA with specialization
CIR students who wish to pursue a particular research topic in greater depth than is possible in one year may pursue the second-year specialization program. Specialization is best designed for students who plan to continue with graduate studies in a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago or elsewhere. Specialization is competitive; on average 10-12 students apply, and 2-4 are accepted.
CIR offers joint degrees with different programs and schools at the University of Chicago.
- BA/MA - offered only to current University of Chicago undergraduates entering their senior year
- MA/MA - with the Harris School of Public Policy Studies
- MBA/MA - with the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
- JD/MA - with the University of Chicago Law School
- Bruce Cumings
- John Mearsheimer
- Robert Pape
- Eric Posner
- Paul Staniland
- Bernard Wasserstein
- Charles Lipson
- Dali Yang