Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service conferred the first graduate degree in international affairs in 1922, pre-dating the U.S. State Department's adoption of the term "foreign service." Since that initial class, over 3,000 students have completed the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program. Graduates have attained notable success in careers with national governments, international organizations, private businesses and civil society groups.
Today MSFS is recognized as one of the most selective programs in the world. As reported in the February 3, 2015, issue of Foreign Policy, a recent survey of international relations faculty ranked Georgetown among the field's top professionally oriented master's degrees.
Attention to the individual student is a hallmark of the MSFS program, with small classes, faculty-student interaction and life-long friendships cited regularly in post-graduation surveys. Other attractions include the program's distinguished faculty, the Washington, D.C. location and a curriculum that integrates multidisciplinary core requirements with skills training, internships, and field experience.
MSFS Mission: Leadership in Service to the Global Community
The Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) is a professional master’s degree in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Its goal is to prepare women and men to be creative leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors of international affairs. In keeping with the vision of the School’s founder, Father Edmund A. Walsh, S.J., MSFS seeks to instill in its students a commitment to service in the international community and an appreciation for the ethical dimension of international affairs.
MSFS Core Values: Leadership, Creativity, Ethics, and Service
To achieve our mission, and flowing from Georgetown’s Jesuit tradition, MSFS is animated by four core values: Leadership, Creativity, Ethics, and Service.
At MSFS, we define leadership as the ability to work cooperatively with others to develop a vision, articulate concrete goals, and strategies, and implement positive change. We are committed to providing opportunities for our students to develop and strengthen these skills both inside and outside the classroom, preparing them for the challenges they will confront in their careers. As practitioners in the field of international affairs, our graduates are equipped with the tools to lead effectively in today’s complex and diverse global society.
Creativity is the ability to think outside established paradigms and to solve problems innovatively. With new technologies, new actors, and new patterns of behavior on the international scene, MSFS graduates must be able to exercise their imagination. Our curriculum and co-curricular programming are designed to encourage and inspire students to approach every undertaking with creativity in both their personal and professional lives.
Ethics is the foundation for all of our coursework, programming, and professional development. We believe every student must have an understanding and appreciation of different moral frameworks and an ability to articulate competing goods, balance their merits, and choose among them. With this background in ethical reasoning, MSFS graduates are prepared to navigate the challenging multi-dimensional decisions that are the hallmark of a career in international affairs.
Service is a commitment to help others, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, both in the local community and abroad. MSFS seeks to foster a passion for civic engagement and the pursuit of social justice in all its students, encouraging a life-long dedication to serving the greater, global community.
International careers increasingly require knowledge and skills that transcend the confines of traditional academic disciplines. The MSFS program addresses this with a multidisciplinary course of study that integrates theory and practice. The curriculum offers:
a full-time, two-year, 48-credit program
small classes with interactive teaching and learning
required core courses that provide cross-disciplinary insights into the dynamic international system
advanced courses in economics, history, politics, and business as well as quantitative methods, analytical skills and foreign languages
a choice of three professional concentration areas: global politics and security, international development, global business and finance
specializations that integrate classes, skills training, internship opportunities and unique, practitioner-taught workshops
The MSFS faculty encompasses scholar-teachers and practitioners. Faculty teaching MSFS students include Charles Kupchan, Victor Cha, Kathleen McNamara, John McNeill, and Theodore Moran. Among the more notable practitioners is Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Robert Gallucci. Adjunct faculty includes executives from the World Bank, Citigroup, Exxon, ITT, McKinsey, Sidley Austin, FINCA and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Practitioners serve as Concentration Chairs for each field of study. Their applied professional insights complement the full-time faculty's role in advising on course selection, internships, career preparation and employment opportunities. Practitioners also offer optional one or two-day skills clinics; recent examples include global strategy concepts and approaches, international development project design and evaluation and business risk assessment and management techniques.
MSFS students are required to complete sixteen three-credit courses—four courses in each of four semesters—with a cumulative grade point average of B (3.0) or higher. These courses include:
five core courses taken during the first year: International Trade, International Relations: Theory & Practice, Globalization of Intersocietal Relations, Analytical & Statistical Skills, and International Finance
six courses, including one workshop, in a chosen field of concentration
five electives, which may be used to expand knowledge in another field or earn one of several certificates.
Students can be granted waivers via exam from all core courses except Globalization of Intersocietal Relations.
Language: MSFS students must pass a language proficiency examination, for which course work may or may not be required, depending upon the student's level of proficiency.
Oral Examination: The MSFS capstone is a one-hour oral examination taken in the spring of the second year.
Minimum Grade and Grading Standard: Students must maintain a 3.0-grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. MSFS courses follow a grading standard, which is outlined in this document.
Transfer Credits: With the approval of the director of the MSFS Program, students may transfer up to three (3) credits for a graduate-level course(s) completed at another institution. Credits applied to a previously completed master's degree may not be applied toward the MSFS degree.
Each MSFS student chooses one of the following fields of concentration. The requirements of each concentration include one three-credit "workshop" taken in the fall of the second year and five other courses specified by the particular concentration.
Global Politics and Security
Global Business and Finance
Self-Designed and Regional & Comparative Studies
Students in the MSFS program may pursue solely the MSFS degree, or combine the MSFS with a second dual degree. MSFS works with the School of Foreign Service, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Georgetown Law Center, the McCourt School of Public Policy, and the McDonough School of Business to offer the following dual degrees:
Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Foreign Service (JD/MSFS)
Master of Science in Foreign Service/Master of Business Administration (MSFS/MBA)
Master of Science in Foreign Service/Master of Public Policy (MSFS/MPP)
Master of Science in Foreign Service/Master of Arts in Global, International, & Comparative History (MSFS/MAGIC)
Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service/ Master of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS/MSFS)
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/ Master of Science in Foreign Service (BSBA/MSFS)
Frequently asked questions about dual degree admissions
Note: Degree candidates for all joint degree programs must satisfactorily pass the MSFS language proficiency examination and must pass a one-hour oral examination.
Internships are an integral part of the MSFS education and our students’ preparation for a career in the international arena. Internships provide students with the opportunity to enhance their academic coursework; gain professional experience and insight into career opportunities; develop contacts in their field of interest; and explore the public, private, and/or non-profit sectors. MSFS students are required to have one internship at an internationally-focused organization during their course of study, but typically students intern one to two semesters and during the summer between their two years of study.
Internships can be:
for a semester or a year
paid, unpaid or for academic credit
15-20 hours per week during the school year, full time during the summer
an opportunity for potential employers and employees to assess one another
a way to add a new dimension to coursework and life while developing valuable skills