Global Studies MA Program

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The Global Studies MA is a two-year interdisciplinary “applied research” degree that combines scholarly rigor and practical skills. Students enrolled in the program will focus on analysis of trans-regional and trans-national themes, events, and processes that affect states and societies around the world, such as transnational social movements; the diffusion of, and clashes over, political and social norms; and implications of global trade, investment, production, and employment patterns. The program’s courses focus on issues with contemporary global significance and policy relevance. Global Studies is an emerging discipline, and UNC-Chapel Hill is at the forefront of defining the field and evolving methodological approaches.

Students will be required to complete 36 credits, of which 15 credits will be comprised of core courses and writing credit. Students will also complete 21 elective credits in a chosen concentration. Students will be required to complete and defend a research or policy paper. Class size will be approximately 10 students per year. While many applicants will be students who have been away from university for a few years in the ‘field’ we will consider recent graduates.

The educational objectives of the program are to: (1) Highlight issues of current and emerging global significance; (2) Prepare current and future leaders with knowledge and conceptual skills needed for careers in international work; and (3) Provide an education that trains individuals to understand and respond to the nature of global change.


MA students select one of four possible areas of concentration:

  • Global Politics, Institutions, and Societies
    • In this concentration, MA students investigate the relationships between democracy, constitutional design, and conflict, differing expectations of states and societies, and varying understandings of human rights and citizenship.
  • Global Economy
    • This concentration focuses on the practicalities of economic and human development in the developing and developed world. The concentration will allow students to master aspects of economic development, international aid and investment, and global trade and finance.
  • Global Migration and Labor Rights
    • This concentration focuses on the intersection of labor rights and practices, foreign direct investment and labor rights, the nature of work in the developed and developing world, the relationship between migration and work, and the impact of migration on home economies and communities.
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES)
    • The REEES Concentration stresses multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia in an era of globalization and internationalization. Students work closely with the Director, Associate Director of the Center and affiliated faculty members in constructing their programs. The REEES Concentration is unique within the University, combining learning of a Slavic or East European languages (Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian-Croatian) with a substantial number of courses that focus upon the Russian, Eurasian, and East European geo-cultural area. Graduates find em­ployment in the U.S. military and government, national and international nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector or choose to continue their education.
    • Learn more:
    • Admissions procedures:

All Global Studies MA students will take a core course in each of the three concentrations. MA students will then select one area of concentration and complete seven elective courses that fulfill thematic requirements for that concentration. Of these concentration courses, four must be above the advanced undergraduate level (courses numbered 600 and above) or have approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and the student’s academic mentor to count toward completion of the MA degree.

By the first week of their second semester, all Global Studies MA students will draft a coherent course plan that indicates the rationale for their area of concentration and the role that the courses they have selected play in fulfilling their Global Studies MA requirements. All students must have the course plan approved by the Global Studies Director of Graduate Studies and their academic mentors to ensure that it advances the student’s specialization.

Across these concentrations, UNC Chapel Hill offers hundreds of existing courses that students might draw upon to fulfill their degree requirements. In addition, students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill are able to take advantage of the inter-university enrollment opportunities to take classes at NC State University and Duke University, as appropriate to their concentrations and course needs.

In addition, to the core thematic courses and the 21 elective credits, all MA students are required to take the core introductory course, GLBL 700: Introduction to Research and Theory in Global Studies, and a methods course in an academic discipline appropriate to their chosen concentrations.

International And Field Experience Requirements

During the third semester of the two-year program, Global Studies MA students are likely to engage in internships, field research, or study abroad to supplement their experiences and learning in their chosen concentrations. We expect most Global Studies MA students to use this time to study or work abroad, but we can also envision students using this opportunity to conduct field work or internships on globally relevant topics in the United States. For example, students might work on labor rights, health concerns, or economic issues among Latino immigrants in the state of North Carolina.  Students will receive academic credit for field experiences either by enrolling at a foreign institution and transferring up to 9 credits or by enrolling in the Global Studies MA internship course (GLBL 712) for up to 9 credit hours.

Study or work abroad is not a degree requirement. If a student comes to the Global Studies MA program with an already extensive experience of studying or working abroad (2+ years), that student might better be served by taking elective classes on campus during the third semester rather than engaging in additional study abroad or internship. The flexibility of the third semester will allow students to design the best degree options for their individual circumstances. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the students’ academic advisers and the Global Studies Director of Graduate Studies.

Foreign Language Requirement

We strongly believe that foreign language ability is an integral part of a global education. Proficiency in a foreign language is required for admission. Students may demonstrate proficiency through completion of three years of language courses at the university level or through certification from the appropriate foreign language department at UNC-Chapel Hill. As appropriate to their chosen concentrations, students are encouraged to continue language study while pursuing the Global Studies MA.

We do, however, also expect to encounter very strong candidates for admission who might not have a specific need for a foreign language. For example, native-English speaking students interested in studying labor and migration issues in the United States, Great Britain, or any number of English language speaking places would not necessarily need a foreign language to conduct astute policy- and theoretically-relevant research. For this reason, we will allow the Global MA admissions committee to make exceptions to the language admissions requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Admissions Requirements

Admission to the Global Studies MA program is highly selective. An undergraduate degree from an appropriate college or university, or its international equivalent, is required. Students should have maintained at least a B grade average (cumulative 3.0 GPA) during their undergraduate career. Prior experience, academic or work-related, dealing with global issues will be an asset.

As part of the admissions process, students must submit the following documents:

  • Transcript of undergraduate work.
  • Graduate Record Examination scores (GRE, UNC Graduate School Institution Code: #5816)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL, for applicants without a degree from an English speaking institution) scores
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • A writing sample.
  • Proficiency in a foreign language demonstrated through completion of three years of language courses at the university level (on university transcript) or through certification from the appropriate foreign language department at UNC-Chapel Hill. (Exceptions made on a case-by-case basis.)

See UNC’S Graduate School Admissions page for information on these requirements.

Online admission to our program is administered through UNC’s Graduate School. All supplemental items should be uploaded via the online application and not sent to our program. See Graduate Degree Program page (select Global Studies in the drop-down menu) for supplemental material requirements.

Applications are only considered after all materials have been received and the application fee ($85.00) has been paid.

The online application for Fall 2015 will open on August 15, 2014.

The admissions deadline for applicants who wish to be considered for fellowship and assistantship opportunities is December 16, 2014. The deadline for Fall 2015 admissions is February 10, 2015.

Financial and tuition assistance

The Global Studies MA program is primarily a tuition-based degree. Students are responsible for their tuition, fees, and other expenses.

A limited number of competitive fellowships and teaching assistantships are available.

The UNC-CH FAFSA (student loan) deadline is March 1, 2015 (school code 002974) for Fall 2015. For more information, please visit the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.

external funding opportunities

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships

FLAS fellowships fund the study of Less Commonly Taught Languages and area studies coursework. This program provides academic year and summer fellowships to assist graduate students and advanced undergraduates in foreign language and area studies. The goals of the fellowship program include: (1) to assist in the development of knowledge, resources, and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area/international studies; (2) to stimulate the attainment of foreign language acquisition and fluency; and (3) to develop a pool of international experts to meet national needs. There are two types of FLAS grants offered by CGI:

  1. Summer intensive language study. Grants provide ~$2,500 in stipend and full tuition (up to $5,000) for approved intensive summer language courses in the US or abroad.
  2. An academic year course of study that includes both language and area studies courses. Academic year grants for GRADUATE students provide ~ $15,000 in stipend plus full tuition and fees. Academic year grants for UNDERGRADUATE students provide $5000 in stipend plus $10,000 in tuition and fees.

For more information, please visit:

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 5 pm, Friday, January 30, 2015.

Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship

The Payne Program is designed to attract outstanding young people to careers in international development as USAID Foreign Service Officers.  The Payne Fellowship Program provides benefits valued at up to $90,000 over two years toward a two-year master’s degree, arranges internships in Washington D.C. and at USAID missions overseas, and provides professional development and support activities.  Fellows who successfully complete the program become USAID Foreign Service Officers.  Fellows may use the fellowship to attend a two-year master’s program in a U.S. institution to study an area of relevance to the USAID Foreign Service, including international development, international relations, public policy, business administration, foreign languages, economics, agriculture, environmental sciences, health, or urban planning at a graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program.  At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows enter the USAID Foreign Service.  Applicants must be college seniors or graduates looking to start graduate school in the fall of the year they apply, have GPAs of at least 3.2 and be U.S. citizens.  The program welcomes applications from those with any undergraduate major and encourages applications from members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the USAID Foreign Service and those with financial need.  Information and application materials for the program are available at  The application deadline is January 20, 2015.  The Program is funded by USAID and managed by Howard University.

2015 Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship
Number of Fellowships Offered:  5
Eligibility Requirements:  U.S. citizenship; GPA of 3.2/4.0; seeking to start two-year relevant grad program in fall 2015
Online Application Opens:  October 14, 2014
Application Deadline:  January 20, 2015 - Finalists selected by the end of February – Fellows selected by mid-March
Contact: paynefellows@howard.edu202-806-4367(877) 633-0002; or Tessa Henry, Program Officer, (Tessa.henry@howard.edu202-806-5952 

Rotary Peace Fellowships

The Rotary Peace Fellowships are offered on a world-competitive basis.  Each Rotary district may nominate candidates for competition in the worldwide selection process.  Up to 50 fellowships for master’s level studies are offered annually at one of five Rotary Peace Centers.  Fellows can only be assigned to a center outside of their home country.  Complete details of all of the Rotary Peace Centers and the application process can be found here.  All Rotary Districts are encouraged to recruit qualified candidates in their area to apply for the fellowship.

At the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center, Rotary Peace Fellows are supported by the fellowship for the 21-month duration of the program. The fellowship includes funding for tuition and other university fees, a monthly stipend for room and board, a contingency fund, funding for conferences and research, summer internship support, and transportation between the fellow’s home and study destination at the start and end of the fellowship period.

The application for studies commencing in August 2016 opens on January 1st, 2015.  Applications must be submitted to Rotary International by July 1st, 2015.  For more information about the program, please visit

Additional external funding information from the UNC Graduate School is available at

NC Residency For Tuition Purposes

All students admitted to an academic program in the Graduate School are considered nonresidents for tuition purposes until they submit a residency application. Students who are new admits, have had a break in enrollment (either a fall or spring term missed) or have changed programs need to apply. This is regardless of time lived in the state or previous status as an undergrad or non-degree seeking students.

Graduate School residency information and application

Office of the Registrar residency information

Additional Information

Questions about the Global Studies MA program may be addressed to Dr. Erica Johnson, Director of Graduate Studies.