- Approx. 1,100
- Degrees offered:
- Master of Arts in Arab Studies; Master of Arts in Asian Studies; Master of Arts in German and European Studies; Master of Arts in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies; Master of Arts in International Business and Policy; Master of Arts in Latin American Studies; Master of Arts in Security Studies; Master of Global Human Development; Master of Science in Foreign Service
- % International:
- Work Experience:
- 2-6 years
- Employment sectors:
- Employment by sector 2021: 39% public, 34% private, 22% nonprofit, 5% multilateral
- Visit our masters’ programs’ websites for program-specific information. Learn more here: https://sfs.georgetown.edu/academics/graduate/
The Georgetown Walsh School of Foreign Service awarded its first graduate degree in the early 1920s. Since then, thousands of SFS graduates have applied the values-led training they gained at the school to leadership roles in every area of international affairs. Graduates from SFS master’s programs include world leaders, ambassadors, top business leaders, high-ranking military officials, development innovators, award-winning reporters and human rights champions..
For close to a century, SFS has continued to develop innovative approaches to graduate education for professional careers in international affairs. In a continually changing and unpredictable world, we believe that our mission to students to be creative, service-driven leaders with a deep understanding of the ethical components of global affairs is more important than ever.
Located in the heart of DC, SFS students learn from scholars and practitioners at the top of their fields and can take advantage of the networking, internship and career opportunities and front seat to global events offered by our city. The unparalleled opportunities offered by an SFS graduate degree led Foreign Policy to rank Georgetown University as the #1 school for master’s programs for international policy careers in the most recent ranking released in 2018.
When you study at SFS, you join a century-long legacy of service to the world. We can’t wait to see your contribution to our community!
To receive information directly from the Admissions Department, click here.
How is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changing the global landscape?
It’s too soon to say whether this war will be a historical inflection point similar to the beginning of the Cold War, but it certainly has that potential. Liberal democracies may end up confronting not just Russia but an autocratic block anchored by Russia and China. Beijing, even if uncomfortable with the instability caused by the war, continues to support Moscow. In the meantime, the majority of the world’s countries don’t want to take sides and are refraining from enforcing sanctions against Russia. We’re heading into a world that will be more multipolar than bipolar in character and practice.
The conflict in Ukraine has deep roots in history and national identity. How does the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) prepare students for such complex international issues?
The SFS provides an education grounded in history and comparative politics. Our faculty believe in giving students the foundational skills and the knowledge they need to think conceptually about international problems in diverse fields and regions. Students graduate from SFS prepared to tackle thorny issues in rigorous and systematic ways.
You’ve served in the National Security Council under two presidents in addition to teaching at SFS for more than twenty-five years. How do these experiences inform your teaching?
The influence goes both ways. My background in academia leavens my ability to contribute in a policy setting because I can bring to the table considerable historical knowledge and study of international political dynamics. My government experience leavens my research and teaching by enabling me to better understand how policy is made and implemented. Like many of my SFS colleagues, I aim to keep a foot in both the academic world and the policy community in order to bring scholarly expertise into policy debates and real-world experience into the classroom.
On February 25th, you spoke at an SFS town hall where hundreds of students turned out to discuss Russia’s invasion. What role do gatherings like these play in the SFS graduate student experience?
I have only one other memory that rivals the emotional salience of that town hall: teaching a section of Intro to International Relations soon after the terror attacks of September 11th. Understandably, we were all deeply shaken. Similarly, emotions were running high in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Our community came together to share concerns and support each other, stand with Ukraine, and better understand the motivations behind and the implications of the war.
As this town hall demonstrated, SFS delivers not just the academic curriculum students need to thrive professionally but also a community of experts who respond in real time to world events. Students at SFS have access to high-caliber professors steeped in their academic disciplines, many of whom have served in the policy world. Due to Georgetown’s location in Washington, DC, we also bring into the classroom experienced practitioners. It’s a great and unique mix.
How has the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the graduate student experience?
We believe that diversity is critical to building a better, more challenging, and more successful learning environment in order to train the new generation of international leaders. In the summer of 2020, SFS established a dedicated DEI office to ensure that our curriculum, pedagogy, and culture fully engage with issues of social justice and equity. We have created new graduate student scholarships, such as the MSFS Futures Scholarship and the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy McHenry Fellows program in our functional and regional studies master’s programs, expanded our efforts to update curricula and student initiatives, and broadened our admission and recruitment efforts to reach students whose holistic experiences contribute to the diversity of the school and its mission.
What kind of benefits resulted from the virtual learning during the pandemic, and how will this be integrated into the graduate program going forward?
As challenging as the pandemic was to life and learning on campus, we found new ways to improve our pedagogy in the virtual learning environment. Being online allowed us to become truly global in the sense that authors and leaders joined our virtual classrooms and gatherings from cities all over the world, including World Bank President David Malpass, HRH Princess Ghida Talal of Jordan, and the CFOs of Gap, Inc. and UPS. Students were not deterred from doing study abroad programs and internships virtually in the far corners of the earth. In addition, we continued to build our curricular offerings coming out of the pandemic to include new specializations in science, technology and international affairs, refugees, humanitarian disasters, and migration. While we will all be happy to return to campus in the fall, we will capitalize on the best elements of online learning going forward.
How did SFS build community networks during the pandemic?
Whether it was active SFS alumni going the extra mile to find jobs and internships, faculty holding additional one-on-one Zoom office hours, or the dean bringing together political and corporate leaders from around the world for virtual coffee chats with students during the pandemic, SFS emerges with an even stronger community going forward. Our ability, for example, to bring the most diverse group of recruiters to campus virtually greatly enhanced job and internship placements for our students. We will build on those newly strengthened networks to give students greater access to novel learning, research, and internship opportunities that can be augmented by the virtual possibilities opened up by the pandemic. Not unlike the moment of SFS’s founding in 1919, SFS faculty and students are inspired today to rebuild an inclusive, open, and transparent post-pandemic world, each in their own unique and impactful way.
In this challenging moment, how is the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) preparing students to serve in a rapidly changing international landscape?
At SFS, we recognize that, to develop feasible solutions to global problems, we must rethink our approach to international service. Our graduate programs are designed to be multidisciplinary and to build upon the best of theory and practice.
Our new Center for Security and Emerging Technology launched with a $55 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. The center is dedicated to understanding how emerging technologies are remaking the global security landscape. We are also integrating a deeper training in science and technology across all graduate programs.
In the master of arts program in international business and policy, our top-ranked faculty work with those from the McDonough School of Business to study global problems that require a truly integrated training in both business and global politics.
This year, SFS launched two new graduate certificates. The social innovation and global development certificate connects the public and private sectors within market-oriented systems to solve major poverty reduction challenges, and our certificate in gender, peace, and security explores the important intersectional role of women and gender dynamics in defense, development, and diplomacy.
At this important global moment, we are focused on recruiting exceptionally qualified graduate students from diverse backgrounds around the world to commit to public service careers through our new full-tuition Donald F. McHenry Global Public Service Fellowship.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of the unpredictability of global issues. What expertise on this topic is reflected in the SFS faculty?
The faculty at SFS have always engaged issues beyond the traditional scope of international affairs. Our faculty includes global health experts, such as Dr. Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security and a leading voice on the current pandemic. Alumnus and adjunct faculty member Jeremy Konyndyk led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis and was among the first to warn that COVID-19 would become a pandemic.
2019-2020 marked the centennial of SFS. How did that anniversary position the school for the next century?
The centennial celebrated our legacy as the first U.S. school dedicated to preparing our nation to engage on the world stage after World War I. Many of the values that inspired our founders are now being questioned, and it is critically important that we recommit to our founding principles.
Inscribed in our academic building is a quote from priest and scholar Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:, S.J., "The Age of Nations is past. It remains for us now, if we do not wish to perish, to set aside the ancient prejudices and build the earth." Increasing trends toward nationalism and isolationism undermine efforts to solve global problems. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that multilateralism and cooperation are increasingly important. At SFS, we prepare our students to be values-led global leaders, equipped to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the way people work and live. What innovations has your school promoted to prepare for these changes?
We recognize that technological innovation is the underlying foundation of the international system. Everything is rooted in how changes in technology impact the way people engage with each other, either the way they do harm to each other or the way they cooperate and create opportunities. If the forms of engagement change, as they have with changing technology, that will have ripple effects on all the other elements based on that foundation. Changing technology has also impacted the ways that great powers, nonstate actors, and small powers engage with each other and the international community.
We are making a major investment to try to understand the implications of new technology. In January 2019, we launched the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), a research organization focused on studying the security impacts of emerging technologies, supporting academic work in security and technology studies, and delivering nonpartisan analysis to the policy community. As one of the biggest centers on how emerging technologies reshape the security landscape, CSET will initially focus on the effects of progress in artificial intelligence and advanced computing.
We have hired new faculty who are working on cybersecurity, and students in our Security Studies graduate program can choose to concentrate on technology and security. Georgetown has always been an innovator in science, technology, and international affairs at the undergraduate level, and we’re working on expanding it to the graduate level. We recently launched a partnership between the World Bank and our Master’s in Foreign Service program, Global Human Development program, and Science, Technology and International Affairs program, focused on how digital technology is transforming agriculture around the world. Students will be asked to delve into multiple facets of technology and agriculture, including digital financial services and precision crop monitoring with the aim of examining how these will transform markets and individual livelihoods worldwide.
Cities and other subnational areas are becoming more influential on international issues. How do you prepare graduates to lead on the local, national, and global levels?
Increasingly, there are more entities outside of the U.S. federal government who are playing roles in international affairs. Our students need to be prepared for that. They need to understand how Washington, DC, works, but they also need to be able to make innovations outside of the Beltway. With the federal government pulling back on issues such as climate change and the recent changing trade policies, states are building up their own apparatuses to handle international affairs. Our alumni are taking the lead on that; for example, Bud Colligan, class of 1976, recently became senior advisor for international affairs and trade to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Although we’ve always been a Washington school, that doesn’t mean we only train students for the Washington power structure.
How do the graduate programs within Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) address the changing nature of conflict in the world in 2018?
SFS, the first school in the United States dedicated to international affairs, was founded nearly one hundred years ago in the aftermath of World War I. In the words of our founder: “Unprepared as we were for war, we are resolved never to be unprepared for the peace.” This is our mission and it remains as relevant today. At the mission’s core is a commitment to peace through understanding. We believe that understanding global issues is fundamentally multidisciplinary. To that end, we offer eight degree programs: the broadly oriented Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) Program, the Security Studies Program, the Global Human Development Program and five regional studies programs (Latin America, Asia, German and European Studies, Russia and Eurasian Studies, and Arab Studies). Each degree is built around an exploration of the history, politics, economics, and culture of global regions and problems. We are incorporating solutions to problems driven by technology. We frame these programs around a set of values promoting engaged service to the world, which we believe is essential to sustaining peace.
What other unique advantages does SFS have in making its graduate students more prepared to address conflict?
SFS has a faculty with an unparalleled understanding of the roots of conflict, but also many with experience in preventing and resolving conflicts. Madeleine Albright leads our students through crisis simulations. Bruce Hoffman and Dan Byman unpack the complexities of global terrorism. The last four directors for Asia on the National Security Council teach in our Asian Studies program. Our Global Human Development Program is led by USAID’s former chief economist. Our core faculty, supplemented by some of the most prominent practitioners in Washington, DC, work on solutions to global crises every day. Our students are engaged in analysis and practice in a way that virtually no other school can provide.
“Service” is not only part of our name, it is the core of our identity. It drives our faculty. It unites our students. And we are located in a city that is at the center of global service with multilateral organizations, think tanks, multi-national corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and, of course, U.S. government institutions. This enables our students to build service into their degrees through internships, sponsored fieldwork, and summer opportunities.
What specific skills are SFS students working on that would have been less common a generation ago in preparing to address conflict?
At the moment, what is most critical for our students is a skill that we must revive from a generation ago—the skill of diplomacy. Of course, we now have a greater emphasis on the technological drivers of change. We build solutions to global problems at the intersections of traditional disciplines, combining economics and security to understand fragile states, culture and politics to unpack global populism, or domestic and international risks to understand international migration. Yet, as critical as these new approaches are, we have never been more in need of a revival of the art of diplomacy to prevent and resolve conflict.
Both within the United States and abroad, groups espousing nationalism and isolationism are on the rise, casting doubt on global trade and international institutions. How has this affected the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)?
Our mission—preparing the global leaders of tomorrow—has never been more important than today, with the global order being questioned in so many ways. This is a critical and exciting time to be engaging students in interdisciplinary discussion at the highest levels, and we find that SFS students are intellectually engaged and politically committed. Concerns that applications to a school of international affairs might dip in this environment have, to date, proven unfounded: SFS applications are at an all-time high.
How is SFS adapting as the world and the job market change so quickly?
The strengths of our graduate programs in international affairs have always been on the cutting edge. We are top-ranked for many reasons, but surely one is that our Washington, DC, location provides faculty who are top practitioners as well as important thinkers. Our location also offers unparalleled access to internships and practical experiences—exactly the kind of interdisciplinary problem-solving that marks the best education today. Students may spend the morning studying global trade with a government economist who worked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and then head to the Federal Reserve in the afternoon to research capital flows. Classes from Monday to Wednesday might give way to an internship at Freedom House on Thursday and Friday.
What are the advantages of SFS having nine different master’s degrees in international affairs?
The SFS graduate programs offer an ideal balance of focus and context. Our three largest programs cover broad and vital themes: international affairs and diplomacy, security studies, and international development. Then, we have five additional programs that offer multi-disciplinary focus on regional studies: Asian studies; Arab studies; Eurasian, Russian, and East European studies; German and European studies; and Latin American studies. We have also just introduced a new master’s in business diplomacy aimed at executives. This range of choices gives students a small cohort experience within a larger graduate community.
How does the atmosphere at Georgetown bring students the diverse perspectives that are increasingly important?
At their core, the SFS graduate programs are highly global. We have students from many countries and cultures, each of whom contributes in critical ways to inquiry and discussion. Our faculty of more than one hundred and twenty professors comes from and understands a huge variety of cultures, languages, and philosophies. And, because Georgetown is located in our most international and global city, our campus continuously hosts important international leaders. Just last year, we heard from foreign ministers from France, Argentina, Sweden, Panama, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates and the former president of Kiribati—not to mention former Secretary of State John Kerry and the former chief executive officer of GE, Jeff Immelt. In most cases, these visitors not only spoke to the university but also took the time to engage with SFS students in small groups. There simply is not a more powerful university forum in the world for the leaders and thinkers who matter most in international affairs.
How does SFS prepare graduate students for changes around the world?
The SFS Centennial is quickly approaching in 2019, and we have been thinking deeply about how to update our approach for the 100 years ahead. Some things remain the same, even as international concerns have shifted from maritime trade to issues like global warming and terrorism. As ever, SFS offers an intensive graduate education, delivered by faculty who are both top scholars and, due to Georgetown’s ideal location in Washington, D.C., engaged practitioners with personal experience facing complex problems. At SFS, students get to deepen their understanding of key global issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective and to put into practice what they are learning through internships and direct engagement with decision-makers and practitioners.
How is the 100 year history of SFS relevant to today’s graduate students?
Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service was established in 1919, immediately after the First World War, because of the need to adjust to a changing world. It was the first school of international affairs in the United States, predating the creation of the U.S. State Department Foreign Service. The School drew its name, rather, from the broader idea behind its founding: building peace through a better understanding of the world and a desire to serve the rapidly changing global landscape. This early vision prepared students for challenges in both the private sector and the public sector. A passion for service, then and now, is central to the identity and mission of our school.
What are the unique strengths of the SFS graduate program?
SFS offers eight different master’s programs, from our thematic programs in international affairs and diplomacy, global human development, and security studies to five regionally focused programs. This means that at SFS, students get the best of both worlds: smaller, intensive cohorts of like-minded students and faculty working on particular topics housed within a larger graduate school with the convening power to bring in the most influential figures in international affairs. We are constantly evolving. We have added new initiatives to strengthen our engagement with China and India. We have launched a new Executive Master’s Program together with the McDonough School of Business to look at the interactions between international politics and global business. We are expanding the graduate offerings of our innovative Science, Technology and International Affairs program.
How will the Centennial benefit the graduate program at SFS?
The Centennial is, of course, an opportunity to rethink what and how we teach, but also to ask the SFS community to reinvest in what has made us the top-ranked graduate program in international affairs. We will be reaching out to our network of alumni—who are leaders in government, diplomacy, private industry, humanitarian relief, and multilateral organizations across the world—to ask them to provide even more opportunities for our students and graduates. In the years approaching the Centennial, we will engage an extraordinary range of leaders to come to SFS to work with students and celebrate this remarkable milestone.