Why study global and international studies?

The innovative and interdisciplinary field of Global and International Studies prepares students with the skills and knowledge to deal with contemporary global issues and to operate in a world where both problems and opportunities increasingly transcend national boundaries. KU's Master of Arts in Global and International Studies is designed for both working professionals and recent graduates who seek a better understanding of international issues that shape public policy and the global economy and who want to have an impact in these areas.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

Students are admitted for both fall and spring semesters. Applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. An application with appropriate application fee,
  2. 1 official transcript from each institution of higher education attended for undergraduate and graduate work,
  3. A 500- to 1,000-word essay outlining relevant experiences and reasons for pursuing this degree,
  4. A current résumé,
  5. 3 letters of recommendation sent directly from the references, and
  6. Graduate Record Examination scores (Law School Admission Test or Graduate Management Admission Test results are acceptable substitutes).

International students also must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language scores for an examination taken within the past 2 years, unless they hold degrees from English-speaking institutions.

All materials must be received before the application can be evaluated. More information about the application process can be found on the program’s website. In general, to enter this program, a student must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale; admitted students typically have grade-point averages well above 3.0. Materials are reviewed by a subcommittee of the program advisory committee, which also considers the applicant’s overall record and prospects for success.

Submit your graduate application and fee online. GRE scores and TOEFL scores should be sent directly to KU using KU's score codes. Digital copies of transcripts may be emailed to graduateadm@ku.edu. Official transcripts can also be mailed to the address below:

University of Kansas, Graduate Admissions
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Strong Hall, 313
Lawrence, KS 66045


M.A. Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts in Global and International Studies is a 33-credit-hour degree. All students complete 3 required courses:

GIST 701Approaches to International Studies3
GIST 702Globalization3
GIST 710Research Design for International Area Studies3

In addition to the 3 required courses, students must then complete 7 graduate-level elective courses (21 credit hours). These electives form 2 coherent clusters: 

Regional Specialization Cluster:

These courses in this cluster should give students focused knowledge about a selected region of the world. Up to 3 language courses (9 hours) at or above the 500 level may also count toward this requirement.

Topic Specialization Cluster:

This cluster must focus on a topic specialization approved by the student’s adviser. Students can choose current global and international themes, or they can select an existing graduate certification program offered by another department, such as certificates in community health and development, peace and conflict, women gender and sexuality studies, international business, public administration or communication studies.

For more on the regional and topical elective options, consult the GIST graduate student handbook or contact one of the GIST graduate advisors.

For all students, the M.A. degree also requires evidence of current competence (equivalent to 2 years of successful college-level study) in a modern spoken and written language other than their native tongue; courses taken to complete this requirement generally do not count toward the degree. Students must meet all general requirements as well as program requirements

Thesis Option

Students electing to write and defend a thesis must have their thesis project proposal approved by their thesis advisor prior to enrolling in GIST 898 Thesis and Research Project Writing. Students choosing the thesis option must complete GIST 898. For guidelines and policy regarding the thesis, please consult the GIST graduate student handbook.

Non-thesis Options

Option #1 (Research Project and Oral Exam) – students selecting this option are required to take GIST 898 and complete a research project of more limited scope and scale than a thesis, and the project will be followed by an oral exam. For guidelines and policy regarding the research project option, please consult the GIST graduate student handbook.

Option #2 (Exam) – students choosing this option must take an additional 3 credit hours, corresponding to one of their 2 coherent elective clusters. In the final semester, the student must successfully complete a written examination on the core course content (GIST 701 and GIST 702) and the student’s regional and substantive areas of focus. This is followed by an oral exam. Students considering this option must consult the graduate director first. For guidelines and policy regarding the written and oral exam option, please consult the GIST graduate student handbook.