The Doctor of International Affairs (DIA) is designed for experienced professionals with at least five years of work experience who seek to further their expertise through an advanced practitioner’s degree involving serious and novel research.
Under the guidance of school experts and scholars, DIA candidates take coursework and conduct research on the issues that most align with their professional interests. The program is delivered on an accelerated timeline and culminates with students defending their doctoral thesis.
Advanced standing is available for students who possess a relevant master’s degree allowing the program to be completed in as little as two years – with one year of full-time study and a subsequent part-time, non-resident year focused exclusively on completing their doctoral thesis. Part-time students in the track complete course requirements over two years, followed by the thesis year, totaling three years overall.
Another three-year track is available for those who have not completed a prior, relevant master’s degree. Students complete two full-time years of coursework in residence, earning the MAIR degree en passant, and the final year of this track is conducted on a part-time, non-resident basis focused exclusively on completing the doctoral thesis.
Campus: Washington, DC and Bologna, Italy
Duration: Two to three academic years, with Full- and Part-Time options
Course delivery: In-person
The DIA curriculum emphasizes learning, research, and evaluation. Students gain a deep understanding of foundational theory and learn to apply existing practice and knowledge toward solving real-world problems in fields such as:
- conflict resolution and negotiation
- climate change, energy access, global environmental policy
- sustainable development, foreign aid and global poverty
- human rights and humanitarian affairs, democratization, nation-building
- international political economy, economic development, emerging markets
- American foreign policy, grand strategy, history and statecraft
- defense and security, cybersecurity, and terrorism/counterterrorism
- regions of the world, and more
During their course of study, students will work individually with a faculty advisor who will guide them through the doctoral thesis process. The final year is completed on a part-time, non-resident basis allowing students to conduct research, write, and defend their thesis.
In order to earn the degree, students must fulfill all requirements and earn a cumulative GPA of 3.33 or above.
Doctoral Degrees: DIA vs. PhD
The DIA is a practitioners’ degree where students conduct applied research culminating in a doctoral thesis within their area of professional expertise.
It is different from a traditional PhD, which requires comprehensive exams and is usually thought of as producing an original body of knowledge in preparation for an academic career.
Since the school’s inception in 1943, the school’s faculty members have been internationally recognized for their scholarship, experience, and quality of teaching. They are award-winning scholars, authors, diplomats, thinkers, and senior-ranking officials who are authorities on international economics and international relations and who have expertise in contemporary issues around the world. DIA advisors may include any Johns Hopkins SAIS faculty scholars or expert practitioners who hold PhD degrees.
Students who possess a relevant master’s degree in fields such as political science, public policy, international relations, security studies or other related fields, will receive advanced standing, reducing overall credit requirements to 48. This can be completed in either two (full-time) or three (part-time) years.
Students in the 48-credit track complete 32 credits worth of coursework (usually meaning eight courses) and 16 credits of thesis in the final year. Aside from two DIA research methods courses (8 credits), all other courses are elective.
Students who have completed within the last five years the SAIS MAIR (alone) OR another SAIS master’s program in addition to relevant master’s degree must complete only 32 total credits: 16 credits of coursework (usually meaning four courses) and 16 credits of thesis in the final year. Aside from two DIA research methods courses (8 credits), all other courses are elective.
For all students, the final year is completed part-time and does not require residency in Washington, DC. During this year, students complete their research and write a doctoral thesis under the guidance of their faculty advisor.
Students who do not possess a prior relevant master’s degree must enroll in the three-year track.
The first two years follow the path of the school's two-year Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree. DIA students must take two DIA research methods courses in their second year. The final year of the DIA is completed part-time and does not require residency in Washington, DC. During this year, students complete their research and write a doctoral thesis under the guidance of their faculty advisor.
Students pursuing the 80-credit three-year track can begin their studies at the school’s main campus in Washington, DC or at SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy. Their second year must be completed in Washington, DC.
Students pursuing the 80-credit three-year track will also be conferred the Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree upon successful completion of the program.