Master of International Affairs

University of California-San Diego
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Master's programs

Master of International Affairs (MIA)

The MIA is a two-year, full-time degree program, focusing on the Americas and Asia.Our faculty consists of leaders in public policy, global politics, international security, business and economics and environmental sustainability.

Our high-performing students explore a variety of career paths at GPS through dynamic case studies assigned by industry-leading scholars, quantitative analyses of real-world challenges and professional internships.

Graduates pursue careers in global business, diplomacy, nonprofits, regional development and more. Our alumni network spans more than 80 countries, maintaining GPS connections all over the world.

Program Overview

The MIA requires 98 units for completion. All students take eight required core courses in economics, management, political science and quantitative methods training during the first year and a capstone course in the second. Students in the program select one career track and one country/regional specialization: China, Korea, Japan, Latin America or Southeast Asia. Language acquisition is a key element within

Core Courses

All Master of International Affairs candidates must complete the following courses with a C- or better. The courses listed below are completed in the first year of study.

Policy Making Processes:This course is designed to teach students how to “read” a country’s political and economic system. The course will examine how the evolution of different institutional frameworks in the countries of the Pacific region influences the way in which political choices are made.

Microeconomics for Policy and Management: Survey of basic tools of economics. Included will be such topics as real trade theory, international movements of capital, the effects of trade and capital flows on domestic economies, and policies toward trade and foreign investment. 

International Economics: The theory and mechanics of international economics. Included will be such topics as real trade theory, international movements of capital, the effects of trade and capital flows on domestic economies, and policies toward trade and foreign investment. 

International Politics and Security: Development of analytic tools for understanding international relations with applications to contemporary problems such as the environment, nuclear proliferation, human rights, humanitarian interventions and the roots of conflict and cooperation among countries.

Globalization, the World System and the Pacific: This course examines globalization and other economic and political factors that shape the international relations of the Pacific Rim. Specific topics include financial market integration, state cooperation and intervention, and case studies of individual countries.

Finance and Accounting for Policy Makers: This course covers concepts and applications of accounting and finance necessary for policymakers in for-profit, nonprofit, and public sectors. The course content consists of three parts: (1) basic financial accounting and financial analysis, (2) the effect of time value of money on investment decisions and (3) the effects of risk on financial decisions. No credit will be allowed for IRCO 415 if a student has taken IRCO 420 and IRCO 421.

Quantitative Methods I: This course is designed to provide proficiency in quantitative methods that are used for optimization and decision-making. The use of spreadsheets is applied to data analysis and problem-solving. Statistical theory and regression analysis are introduced.

Quantitative Methods II:This course covers elements from statistics that are central to business decision-making under uncertainty. In particular, regression analysis and estimation will be applied to problems of forecasting and optimization.

Capstone Courses

At least one of the following courses must be taken after satisfactory completion of all first year core courses: GPCO 400, 401, 403, 410, 412, 415, 453 and 454.

Strategy and Negotiations: This class introduces the fundamentals of corporate strategy, based on case studies requiring corporate analysis; and the principles of negotiation, based on exercises and class learning. Both sections of this class are highly applied and require intensive out-of-class preparation and teamwork that help students acquire skills in analytical thinking, strategic action planning and hands-on negotiations. 

Policy Responses to Global Problems: This capstone is designed to test the analytic skills acquired in the GPS program, using them to explain complex real-world problems: security, persistent recurring conflict, persistent inequality and intergenerational debt, women’s rights, environmental change, energy/resource systems, and financial contagion. Emphasis will be placed on determining the nature and dimension of the problem, exploring a range of solutions and assessing the capacity of public institutions. Non-GPS students may enroll with consent of instructor. 

Evaluating Technological Problems: This capstone is intended as a culminating intellectual experience for students, particularly those in economics-oriented tracks. Students will learn to analyze “what works,” integrating a technical understanding of innovation with rigorous statistical analysis. The first half of the course focuses on building a set of science/engineering tools, and the second half focuses on building statistical tools of analysis. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: GPEC 446 or consent of instructors.

Real-World Projects in Energy and the Environment: The course emphasizes real-world application of theories and methods for policy analysis to projects with real clients. The class includes case studies and seminar-style discussions of topics like project finance and management of regulatory risk. Most of the class will be devoted to working in small teams with clients seeking strategic guidance.

Career tracks are designed for Master of International Affairs students to acquire expertise in a functional area of their choice and consist of five courses from a prescribed list: two required and three electives. Students will choose one of the following career tracks:

International Development and Nonprofit Management

Sample Classes

  • Corporate Finance
  • Economics in Southeast Asia
  • Evaluating Social Program
  • Governance, Public Administration and Development
  • Human Rights, Public Policy and International Politics
  • International Health Economics
  • Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
  • Sustainable Development
  • Topics in China’s Development
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets

International Economics

  • Applied Data Analysis and Statistical Decision Making “QM III”
  • China in the Global Economic Order
  • Competing Business Systems of Developing Asia
  • Corruption and Development
  • Economic Policy in Latin America
  • Economies in Southeast Asia
  • Fiscal and Monetary Policy
  • Immigration & Immigration Policy
  • Topics in China’s Development
  • Topics in International Trade

International Environmental Governance 

  • Food Security
  • International Law and Regulation
  • Real World projects in Energy and the Environment
  • Sustainable Development

International Management 

  • Applied Financial Accounting
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Environmental and Regulatory Economics
  • Innovation in the New Economy
  • International Business
  • Organizational Economics
  • Technology & Operations Management: Analysis and Control
  • Technology, Trade, and Globalization
  • Cuba
  • Democratization in Latin America
  • Human Rights, Public Policy and International Politics
  • Immigration & Immigration Policy
  • International Political Economy: Money and Finance
  • Korean Security
  • Politics of Southeast Asia
  • Politics and Institutions in Latin America
  • Real World Projects in Energy and the Environment
  • State Building and Modeling State Capacity
  • The Politics of Energy and Environmental Regulation
  • The Political Economy of Authoritarian Regimes
  • Topics in International Trade
  • Workers and Labor in International Markets

Note: Course schedules are published on a quarterly basis and are subject to change without notice. Some elective courses that can be applied to meet career track requirements may not be offered in a given academic quarter or academic year. See the UC San Diego General Catalog. 

  • Two designated courses: one on the economy and a second on the political system of the region
  • A language requirement

Courses taken for a country/regional specialization may not be double counted.

Students will choose one of the following country/regional specializations:

  • China

Country/Regional Specialization

  • Southeast Asia = Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese (Mandarin), Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese
  • Other languages may be allowed by petition.

The foreign language requirement may be satisfied in one of four ways:

  • Proof of having attended either high school or university in the regional language
  • Native proficiency
  • Completing six quarters (four semesters) of college-level language instruction from an institution comparable to UC San Diego with a grade of "B" or better in the final course.
  • Passing a special GPS-administered language exam, which is the equivalent of the final exam administered in the sixth-quarter course in the selected language.

Quick Links

Student Profile

In a Q&A complementing our Flickr tour of a day in the life of Juan Sebastian Herrera, the 2020 MIA candidate paints a picture of what attending GPS looks like today. Read here


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