Master's Paper Guidelines

One of the degree requirements for the Master of International Affairs degree is to complete either an internship or a master's paper. The requirements for the master's paper are as follows:

Ordinarily, you must complete the core curriculum before beginning work on the master's paper.

Getting Started
Students wishing to complete a Master's Paper as their Capstone experience should first review the following student expectations:

  • Carefully review the Master’s Paper Guidelines and rubric 
  • Determine your research area/topic
  • Conduct initial research and identify a possible angle for original research. It is suggested to invest 5 – 10 hours on your initial research before approaching your proposed faculty paper adviser.
  • Schedule a meeting with your potential SIA faculty paper adviser
  • Draft a prospectus (see below) which will describe your topic, list keywords to the project, list of sources, and state any deadlines agreed upon between you and your paper adviser.
  • Request that your faculty paper adviser AND the SIA Academic Adviser sign the Capstone Registration Form.

You will register for 3 credits of INTAF 594 no later than the drop/add deadline in the semester you intend for your paper to be graded, but not later than the semester in which you intend to graduate. You may identify a master's paper advisor and begin other background work at any time. For registration purposes, the plan for how your 3 master's paper credits will be assigned must be recorded during the capstone planning phase, on the Capstone Registration Form, and forwarded to the SIA Registrar.

The Master's Paper must demonstrate critical thinking, field literacy, and competency in independent research. The Master's Paper is assessed according to a rubric by your paper advisor and a second reader. The second reader is usually the Associate Director of the School of International Affairs, but may be a designee.

The master's paper will be graded with an “R” for research. “R” denotes the work was completed satisfactorily, and that the minimum criteria in the assessment rubric have been met. Your paper advisor is responsible for recording your grade. The “R” grade is not calculated into your GPA; the credits will be counted toward fulfilling degree requirements and will show in your total credits earned. 

Paper Advisor
A School of International Affairs faculty member will supervise your master's paper. The paper advisor should be someone whose disciplinary background matches your field of interest. Your assigned faculty advisor must approve your choice of paper advisor and can help you to identify an appropriate person. Your paper advisor must approve your topic and agree to work with you.

When a student wishes to work with an external faculty member as their primary faculty paper adviser, the student is responsible for informing the non-SIA faculty member of the SIA Master’s Paper Guidelines and rubric. In addition, the student must also request that the Director of SIA serve as a second reader. The SIA Director will not serve as a co-adviser for the paper. Instead his/her role will be to:

  • Ensure the student is meeting the Master’s paper guidelines and expectations
  • Be informed of who the student will be working with as their primary paper adviser
  • Review and approve the student’s prospectus (see above), outline, and list of sources before the student submits the Capstone Registration Form
  • Read the final draft and potentially recommend changes
  • Submit the final grade based on evaluations and assessment from the primary paper adviser

Once you have identified an appropriate paper advisor, you will draft a prospectus which will describe your topic, list keywords to the project, and state any deadlines agreed upon between you and your paper advisor. The paper should involve integrating and showing mastery of the subject matter of your curricular emphasis and should involve original research.  You may not select a master's paper topic/issue for which you previously earned Individual Study credits.  Statements regarding research methodology, a preliminary bibliography or other specifics may also be included. The prospectus must be signed by you, your paper advisor and your assigned faculty advisor before the drop/add deadline. Please email a copy of your prospectus to the academic advisor by the drop/add deadline.

The length of the paper will depend on disciplinary expectations in its subject matter and will be determined by you and your paper advisor together. Generally, the length is similar to a journal article in the field. Usually, the format will be the format recommended by the Graduate School for a master's thesis, but you and your paper advisor may agree on alternative formats.

Graduation/Final Submission
Grades for the master's paper must be submitted by the paper advisor within 48 hours of the last day of classes in order to ensure the grade will be recorded in time for graduation. It will be up to you and the paper advisor what deadline is required for final submission of the paper and whether preliminary drafts will be required.