International Affairs Final Project

All candidates for the master’s degree in International Affairs are required to complete a final written project. Normally completed during the final semester of the program (and in some cases the final year), the project entails substantial research and analysis on a topic determined by the student in consultation with the program coordinator.

The project is completed under the primary supervision of a faculty advisor, along with an additional faculty reader, and it is evaluated by this committee in the form of an oral examination at the conclusion of the student’s program. Students may wish to review some examples of Capstone Research Projects from previous students. 

Capstone Research Project

The standard final project option is the three-credit capstone project, also known as the Directed Research Project (DRP). The one-semester DRP will produce a paper of approximately 40 pages in length. Researched and written under the guidance of the faculty advisor, the paper will reflect a substantive and sophisticated engagement with the chosen topic and will incorporate relevant scholarly and critical sources. The DRP will be defended in a final oral examination convened by the student’s committee (advisor and one faculty reader).

Advisor and Reader

All candidates for the master’s degree in International Affairs complete the final project under the supervision of a faculty advisor and reader. The advisor or “director” works closely with the student at all stages of the project. The reader assesses the final paper and participates in the student’s oral examination. DRP advisors and readers should be teaching faculty with the relevant graduate program. Students select the appropriate advisor and committee members in consultation with the program director and the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS).

Oral Examination

At the conclusion of the final project, students will sit for an oral examination together with their advisor and reader.

Final Essay

As the examination also serves as the capstone event of the program, the student is required to submit to CAPS, in advance of the examination, an essay of 3-4 pages that briefly reflects upon one’s course of study in the International Affairs program, notes strengths and weaknesses of the program, offers suggestions, and remarks upon one’s future plans.

Guidelines & Timelines

It is important to adhere closely to requirements and deadlines associated with the final project in order to ensure timely completion of the project and fulfillment of program requirements. All candidates for the master’s degree in International Affairs are required to complete the Final Project Proposal form for MA Programs. Students entering the program prior to 2020 who have been authorized to pursue the Master’s Thesis also must complete the Title, Scope, and Procedure form.


You should begin planning for your Directed Research Project the semester prior to your final semester of study. If you have authorization to pursue a Thesis, begin planning two semesters prior to your final semester of study. The Title, Scope and Procedure of Dissertation (Thesis) Form must be completed and returned to CAPS at least six months before the month in which the degree is expected to be conferred. CAPS will forward approved Title, Scope and Procedure forms to the Graduate School.


The Final Project Proposal Form must be completed with all required signatures for registration. Registration follows the normal academic schedule. Refer to the current course schedule for registration deadlines. Submit your Final Project Proposal Form here. This will serve as your registration form.

Schedule Your Oral Defense

The Oral Defense should be scheduled as soon as possible after you have registered. The Oral Defense should take place no later than two weeks prior to the end of the semester you plan to graduate. Consult with your committee to find a time that is agreeable. Your Oral Defense will probably only last 1 hour, but schedule 1.5 hours for the defense to provide a small cushion of extra time if needed. To schedule and reserve space, contact your academic advisor.

Please consult the CAPS online calendar for specific deadlines for the oral defense. Usually, the defense must be completed by the beginning of September for summer graduates, the beginning of January for fall graduates, and late April or early May for spring graduates. Please note that these dates conform to deadlines for all graduate programs and are not flexible.

Submission of the Final Project (Directed Research Project or Master’s Thesis)

Submit a copy of your final project to each member of your committee two weeks in advance of your oral defense to allow time for review. Upon successful defense of the project, the final version must be submitted to CAPS. In addition, thesis candidates must submit an electronic copy and one hard copy of the Master’s Thesis to the Graduate School according to the deadlines listed in the online calendar.

Please refer to the Graduate School Master’s Thesis guidelines for formatting and presentation requirements.