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Academic Program

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Academic Program

The European Union Policy Studies graduate program is one-year (three-semester) program that lasts a full ten months.

The EUPS program allows students to gain access to the labor market and/or to further their studies more quickly than a traditional, two-year masters. Upon successful completion of the academic program, students earn a Master of Arts in Political Science from James Madison University. Students take a total of 33 credits. 

In addition to building strong policy analytic skills and mastering the complexities of European policy making, EUPS students graduate with broad cross-cultural competence and the confidence and skills to thrive in the 21st century's dynamic, multilingual, and competitive global environment.

Twelve of the program's 33 credits are completed in the fall semester, twelve in the spring, and nine in the summer. All lectures and seminars are conducted in English, but the program is supplemented by Italian language instruction in the fall and spring semesters.

In the fall semester, students receive a rigorous introduction to the theory and practice of European politics and policy-making, the history of the European Union and its institutions, and contemporary policy issues. Students complete four 3-credit courses, each of which provides insights into patterns of interaction among Europe’s political, economic, ideological, and cultural interests. In addition to these four courses (which all last the duration of the semester), students are fully immersed in language classes every day for the first week for 1.5 hours. After the first week, students attend bi-weekly Italian language classes.

In the spring semester, students master the tools of theoretical policy analysis in an intensive six-credit seminar and use these tools to understand the causes and consequences of European Union policies. Students learn how global, continental, national, and sub-national processes interact to affect EU policy making. Additionally, students declare a specialization in either economic and social policy or foreign policy and internal security and take two 3-credit courses that relate directly to their policy focus.

Students who choose the economics and social policy track master the gamut of the European Union's activities in economic and social affairs. They analyze the foundations, dynamics, and dilemmas of the economic and monetary union, EU trade policy, and EU competition policy. In addition, they scrutinize agricultural and cohesion policies; transportation, energy, and environmental policies; and employment and research and development policies. Students who complete the economic and social policy track are particularly well-positioned to enter careers in governmental agencies, international trade, development, economic policy analysis, academics, and economic journalism.

Students in the foreign policy and internal security track analyze EU foreign policy, the ways that the European Union’s role has developed over time, and the relationships between EU foreign policy and the foreign policies of the member states. Students in this track also analyze Justice and Home Affairs, gaining insight into the ways that EU immigration, asylum, crime, and police cooperation efforts operate. This track is particularly well-suited to students interested in international security, immigration, efforts against organized crime, and counter-terrorism and can lead to productive careers in diplomacy, government agencies, foreign policy contracting, political journalism, and related fields.

In the summer semester, students take a six-credit tutorial in European Union policy studies. Here, students engage in individualized projects in their area of specialization. Summer students choose to complete an internship or to carry out an intensive, supervised individual research project. Students choosing the internship option may be placed in a government office, an NGO, or a business, where they are exposed to and maneuver within EU policies and procedures. Students choosing the intensive research project produce a final project based on a topic of their choosing. They orally present and defend their project in front of an audience of professors and peers.

Students also enroll in a 3-credit summer capstone seminar, which explicitly addresses professional development issues. Students train for and execute a day-long simulation in which they represent various EU actors in a realistic decision making scenario. They complete a comprehensive portfolio of their program of study that includes self-assessments of classroom academic experiences, internship and research activities, evidence of foreign language proficiency, their resume, and reflections on the European Union and its future trajectories. The summer seminar also aims to build students’ professional networks and to aid their transition into the professional realm through professional workshops, guest lectures, etc.