Blended Learning, Domestic, Graduate, International, Required - Written by on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 1:01 - 0 Comments

American University’s SIS Program In DC Launches Online IR Masters With 2U

At the University in Munich (Day) Werner Kunz via Compfight

By Wired Academic Staff

American University’s School of International Service (SIS) is launching a web-based Masters of Arts in International Relations degree starting in May 2013 in partnership with Maryland-based 2U Inc.

The move by American underscores a strategy some schools are making to stay competitive. While American may be the largest school of international relations in the United States, it is easily overshadowed in Washington D.C. by Georgetown University’s program … and by others on the eastern seaboard such as Columbia’s SIPA (school of international and public affairs) and Harvard’s Kennedy School of government.

At the same time, many qualified students probably delay getting a masters in IR because they can’t take time off and give up a job to move to a city like New York or Boston and take on huge debt to start a program. So American’s move is to cater to those kinds of students, offering them a solid brand and educational experience. And, frankly, if the strategy works at bringing in strong students, developing a strong alumni network and brings in revenue, it can only help increase its program ranking and prestige.

The school will also be competing against programs like Frei University’s online program in international relations to recruit top foreign students. Such competition at the graduate level can only help students as schools will have to compete against others in terms of low tuition costs and perks for online students. For example, Frei’s program is all text-based via Blackboard. Will it now be forced to add video technologies to compete against American’s program?

A press release from 2U and American says:

Students will receive a top-ranked American University education by participating in weekly class sessions in an innovative, live, virtual classroom where they will interact with renowned SIS faculty and a diverse group of peers to analyze and discuss course content.  The degree program features highly produced, self-paced content accessible to students 24/7 from anywhere they have an Internet connection. 

Like AU’s on-campus program, International Relations Online features a curriculum that provides students with a strong grounding in the field of international relations and the professional skills to succeed in their careers. International Relations Online students will also gain specialized knowledge by selecting a focus of study in either Sustainable International Development or Global Security and Conflict Resolution. 

International Relations Online students will meet the same academic requirements and selective admissions criteria as students attending AU’s on-campus programs. Students will attend weekly online class sessions and complete a research project, or capstone, before the completion of the program.  Students will also have the chance to meet classmates and faculty on campus and participate in AU’s commencement. 

2U recently announced a consortium of nearly a dozen schools (including Duke and Northwestern) called Semester Online that will offer undergraduate courses online for a charge to students. 2U also runs the infrastructure behind several top online graduate programs including a nursing program at Georgetown and a social work program at the University of Southern California.

Like these other programs, the American University program will use interactive, live, online seminars delivered face to face by American faculty. It will involve an interactive online community that uses social networking, groups and other tools to allow for collaboration with classmates and professors. It will offer small classes of no more than 15 students. It also offers a lifetime connection to American’s SIS alumni network, which totals 15,000.


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2013-02-15 16:00

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