You are here: American University School of International Service Master of Arts in International Affairs: Comparative and Regional Studies

old film camera and US passport lay on top of a world map

Preparing regional experts to confront global challenges

The Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS) program prepares students to be regional experts who understand key global issues through comparative analysis across regions and countries. Unlike traditional regional studies, CRS combines study of the comparative method with regional expertise. In this way, CRS regional concentrations serve as laboratories for knowledge, allowing students to draw lessons from experiences within a region to inform their understanding of the local context and, importantly, of how and why the local context shapes outcomes of global interest.

The MA in International Affairs: Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS) requires 39 credit hours of graduate coursework, including a capstone, that can be completed in two years (full-time) or up to six years (part-time). CRS’s broad curriculum bridges comparative analysis and regional knowledge. Whereas comparative reasoning focuses on uniformities and variations among cases, examining a specific world region grounds knowledge and provides insight. CRS offers students an innovative program of study designed to create informed and analytically-oriented global leaders through traditional academic study, methodological training, skills institutes, and policy practica. Our dual focus—with students choosing one regional and one thematic concentration—provides a two-pronged approach to the study of international affairs.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

Some of the top scholar-practitioners in their fields, Comparative and Regional Studies faculty understand the importance gaining deep knowledge of the world and its peoples. CRS professors have real-world policy experience and serve as advisers and consultants to numerous organizations, including the US National Intelligence Council, US National Security Council, East Asia Institute, Inter-American Development Bank, US Department of State, Foreign Service Institute, USAID, and the World Bank.

Meet the CRS faculty

With residents and visitors drawn from all over the world, Washington, DC, is a vast campus that extends far beyond the SIS classroom. Comparative and Regional Studies students will find extensive opportunities to engage with stakeholders from international organizations, embassies, US government offices, think tanks, museums, and other cultural and educational organizations around the city concerned with the issues affecting their regions of interest.

Language proficiency, on-the-ground regional experience, and intercultural sensitivity are three of the top-cited qualities employers look for in a potential hire. Students in Global CRS acquire these skills and enjoy the unique opportunity to study and work both in Washington and in-region.

Through Global CRS, students spend nine months in Europe through a combination of study abroad and a professional internship with partners in Europe. Language training begins during the first semester on-campus and continues as students immerse themselves in the culture and politics of Europe. Dedicated faculty mentors provide professional guidance and advice to students while on-campus and abroad.

1 to 12 average faculty-student ratio

33 percent of 2017 Fall class are international students

Preparing for a Career at the State Department

The CRS program is giving me the tools I need to be a diplomat.

I chose the CRS program because of its academic rigor and the supportive community of faculty and staff. I have the flexibility to study the Asia Pacific region and explore my interests in Sub-Saharan Africa through a foreign policy and national security lens. Between my courses and mentorship from faculty, I will be prepared to join the US Foreign Service in 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you should apply to the program depends on what semester you want to start taking classes in and whether you are a domestic or international student.

Application deadlines for an MA in International Affairs: Comparative and Regional Studies are as follows:

  • Fall semester (all applicants): January 15
  • Spring semester (domestic applicants): October 1
  • Spring semester (international applicants): September 15

View required application materials

Missed a deadline but still interested in applying? Email the SIS Graduate Admissions office.

The Comparative and Regional Studies degree prepares policy professionals for a variety of careers. CRS graduates find positions in national, state, and local governments; they enter the private sector as consultants and executives in think tanks, transnational corporations, and international banks; and they join nonprofit organizations and NGOs.

CRS alumni consistently report that the program provided them with the knowledge and expertise to be conversant across regional and thematic disciplines—a quality that makes them well-suited for management positions where they must be able to engage with exceptionally diverse populations and stakeholders.

Looking for more information or help? SIS has a dedicated career development center to assist current students and alumni.

SIS is piloting Global CRS Europe beginning with entry in the Fall 2020 semester. Global CRS provides students interested in Europe with an immersive experience to deepen regional expertise. Students study abroad at Sciences Po or Graduate Institute of Geneva during their second semester followed immediately by a professional internship in Brussels during the summer. The first semester and full second year are completed at the School of International Service in DC.

If you are interested in an intense focus on European affairs and would like to be part of Global CRS, please email to learn more.

The School of International Service offers merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships at the time of admission. SIS also has partnerships with a number of organizations like the Peace Corps and Pickering Fellowship that provide qualified individuals with funding.

In addition to being considered for regular merit-based aid, applicants to Global CRS will be eligible to receive the Dean's Award for European Studies, which is designed to help offset travel and living expenses for their trip abroad.

Financial aid information for prospective students

Comparative and Regional Studies students may choose to research other relevant fellowship opportunities.

Need-based aid is available through AU Central Office and generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package.

Federal loan and work study information for graduate students

Still have questions? Send us an email with program-specific questions at

Chat with admissions