IAL Courses

Program Requirements

The MA-IAL program requires 30 credit hours to be successfully completed prior to graduation. The program has four required courses, for a total of 12 credit hours, that are to be completed at various stages of the program. The five required courses are listed below:

  1. IAL 501: Principles of Character-Driven Leadership
    • Must be completed within the first two semesters of enrolling in the program.
    • To be offered every Fall semester
  2. IAL 502: The Making of U.S. National Security Policy
    • Must be completed within the first two semesters of enrolling in the program.
    • Will be offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters
  3. IAL 503: Applied International Leadership: Case Studies
    • Should be completed prior to the final semester of study
    • To be offered every Spring semester
  4. IAL 560: Capstone
    • Must be taken during the last semester of study

The remaining 18 credit hours, 6 classes total, are elective courses to be selected by the student. Any IAL 3-credit class will fulfill the requirement of an elective. Select courses from other programs will be considered on a case by case basis. Please consult with the academic advisor on any advising questions.

Course Descriptions

Please find descriptions of courses to be offered throughout the program:

IAL 501: Principles of Character-Driven Leadership, 3 credit hours

Principles of Character Driven Leadership provides the student with the core concepts of character driven leadership defined as the commitment to do the right thing, the right way for the right reasons. The course focuses on values--individual, organizational, and national--along with ethics, culminating with a clear understanding of leadership. Students will explore the “leader in me” by examining the values that they embrace and the causes that they believe in, along with understanding “the environment I lead in” and the criticality of comprehending where they lead and who they lead.

IAL 502: The Making of U.S. National Security Policy, 3 credit hours

IAL 502 explores the mechanisms through which policy is formulated and takes students through case studies to examine the realistic process of developing and implementing U.S. national security policy. IAL 502 outlines the origins and current structure of America’s national security architecture.  Using actual policy decisions, students will exercise the process of analysis, decision-making and translating into action, elements of the country’s national security agenda.  The course will also include intensive analysis of the intent and outcome of such critical policy decisions and the leadership exercised by the participating decision-makers.

IAL 503: Applied International Leadership: Case Studies, 3 credit hours

IAL 503 builds on the theoretical and practical foundation of the character-driven leadership curriculum conveyed in IAL 501. During the semester, students will engage with faculty and with each other in multiple in-depth applied leadership scenarios, examining various aspects of leadership in international settings. The semester will culminate in individual student presentations analyzing a complex international leadership challenge. Case studies and scenarios in international settings with real-world choices and dilemmas that require group decision-making and leadership in a pressure-filled, crisis situation to achieve a peaceful and successful outcome.

IAL 560: Capstone, 3 credit hours

Offered in the Spring and Fall semesters as appropriate, this course serves as the culminating experience for the Masters’ Degree in International Affairs and Leadership.  In consultation and with the approval of the instructor, students research and identify a specific international affairs leadership challenge they will present at the conclusion of the degree program.  Both the initial planning session and the capstone presentation will be held during the two in-person modules of the program in Washington, D.C.  The capstone product should be a visually rich 20-minute oral presentation that shows analytical rigor and defends a tangible strategic plan for achieving impact and positive change. The oral presentation must be accompanied by written back-up material that substantiates and defends the student’s policy analysis and proposal for action. 

IAL 504: U.S. Diplomacy in Action - the Embassy Country Team, 3 credit hours

Led by a former U.S. Ambassador, students constitute an U.S. Embassy Country Team for a specific country and manage a reality-based diplomatic agenda. Students will be assigned the actual roles of Embassy team members, and together with their “Ambassador” will practice how U.S. foreign policy is developed and executed in the field and for the final written and oral project will develop and present new, creative programs for promotion of U.S. interests to improve the bilateral relationship with the country.

IAL 508: Transatlantic Relations: Does Europe Still Matter?, 3 credit hours

IAL 508 projects forward the directions the U.S. and Europe are moving. The students will be challenged to analyze and consider “over the horizon” trends and opportunities, but also the risks of conflict and how to mitigate and solve challenges. Case studies will present “Character-driven leadership” by U.S. and European leaders as they manage issues of cooperation and competition.

IAL 509: Western Hemisphere: Good Neighbors, Tough Challenges, 3 credit hours

This course will explore the opportunities and challenges facing the United States in its relationships with its regional neighbors, including Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. The lectures and readings will consider how the region’s social, cultural and economic history shapes its relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world.

IAL 511: Human Rights and Realpolitik, 3 credit hours

This course will explore the origins of the human rights movement, watershed moments, and contemplate what may be next. The course is based on the foundation that respecting human rights is not simply the right moral choice, but one that has an economic and national security implications: that the world is more prosperous and more secure when freedom and rights are universally afforded.

IAL 598: Congress in US Foreign Policy: Does politics still stop “at the water’s edge?”, 3 credit hours

The 2015 invitation by the congressional Republican leadership to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s to address a joint session in order to openly oppose the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran is considered an important demonstration the polarization of congress had moved squarely into the realm of foreign policy.

“Does politics still stop at the water’s edge? The role of Congress in US foreign policy,” is an in-depth look at the legislative branches’ influence on the development and execution of US foreign policy. The class will study the behind the scenes, day-to-day interactions between the two branches as well as the traditional tools afforded Congress under the Constitution including the authorization/appropriations process, ratification of treaties and confirmation of nominees and how these tools are utilized in today’s hyper-partisan political environment. Students will hear from academics, former and current executive and legislative branch staff, embassies and the special interests that influence Congress’ thinking on foreign policy with coursework emphasizing the preparation of briefing memos, speeches and op-eds.