Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy

The Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy at AGS allows students to specialize in a specific domain of knowledge while gaining the recognition that is instrumental to pursue advanced careers in academics, think tanks, international organizations, or government research.

A US-accredited Ph.D. in France

The Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy at AGS combines the wide recognition of an American degree with the unique experience of a Paris-based program. It is accredited in the US as an affiliated program of Arcadia University (Pennsylvania) and taught at the American Graduate School in Paris, a private nonprofit institution of higher education recognized by the French Ministry of Higher Education.

Classes are taught in the heart of Paris. The French capital – which is also one of Europe’s capitals and an international hub – is an ideal location for doctoral research in international relations as it offers access to countless research libraries, archives and special collections. It also provides internship opportunities with government institutions, inter-govermental organizations and NGOs.

The language of instruction and for the writing of the dissertation is English; no knowledge of French is required to enroll.

The program consists of two years of graduate coursework and an average of three years dedicated to the research and writing of the doctoral dissertation. Candidates have the ability to tailor the program around their interests and career objectives through elective courses as well as through the choice of their research topic. The highest academic standards are sought in the coursework as well as in the methodology, research, and writing of the dissertation. A unique aspect of the Ph.D. program at AGS is the very close guidance provided to students throughout the dissertation process.


The International Relations and Diplomacy curriculum has a multi-disciplinary scope. Required courses cover the disciplines of international relations, political science, economics, international law, international organizations, and diplomacy. The choice of electives is made in accordance with the domain in which the candidate wishes to pursue his or her research.

International Relations and Diplomacy Ph.D. candidates must successfully complete:

  • Five required courses

  • Seven elective courses

  • A Ph.D. seminar to prepare for the Qualifying Exam in International Relations methods and theories

  • A series of Ph.D. advising tutorials guiding Ph.D. students through the dissertation research and writing process

See the list of courses below (please click on each link to get the course description).

Note: Up to two courses can be transferred from another university if they meet the standards of AGS, upon approval by the Academic Committee. In the case of AGS Master's graduates, all five required courses may be transferred into the Ph.D. program : see the section on Combined M.A.-Ph.D. program below.

Required Courses and Tutorials

IRD-R-580 : Factors and Theories of Analysis in International Relations and Diplomacy

IRD-R-581 : Research Methodology and Design

IRD-R-682 : Foreign Policy Formulation and Diplomacy

IRD-R-583 : International Public Law

IRD-R-520 : International Political Economy

IRD-T-790 : Ph.D. Seminar

IRD-T-791-197 : Ph.D. Advising Tutorials

Elective Courses

See the list of elective courses here

Degree requirements

In order to be awarded the AGS's Ph.D. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete the curriculum requirements listed above with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

  • Have the ability to use primary sources in any foreign language(s) necessary for doctoral research in the area of the dissertation

  • Pass a Qualifying Examination in International Relations methods and theories

  • Pass a pre-dissertation Comprehensive Examination

  • Write and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation of at least 75,000 words of research, analysis, and corroborating data

  • Conform to academic, administrative, and financial requirements and rules of the school (as detailed in the handbook provided upon admission).


While in the Ph.D. program, you have the opportunity to do an internship in a Paris-based organization: diplomatic/consular mission, intergovernmental organization, NGO, multinational corporation news media outlet or another type of relevant international institution.

Internships are optional and can be pursued either for credit (then counting as an elective course in the curriculum) or not-for-credit. In all cases, you may benefit from AGS’s guidance and support for internship placement. (Note that in all cases, the student is ultimately responsible for finding his/her internship.)

Ph.D. Exams

After you have successfully completed your coursework, in order to continue in the Ph.D. program, you must pass the following exams:

  • The qualifying exam requires the demonstration of competency in theoretical and methodological literature and issues in international relations.

  • The Comprehensive exam (oral and written), which determine Ph.D. candidacy, are meant to test the candidate’s readiness for advanced research in the more specialized areas of international relations. They consist of two parts, a written exam and an oral exam, that are administered by a jury of three to five examiners.

Ph.D. Dissertation Process

After you have passed these exams, you may officially begin the research and writing of your Ph.D. dissertation. AGS has developed a series of advising tutorials to closely guide and support you through this process, culminating in the defense of your dissertation before a jury of experts.

Combined M.A.-Ph.D. program

AGS offers a combined M.A.-Ph.D. program per the American model. After the completion of the M.A. requirements, students enrolled in this combined M.A.-Ph.D. program will only have to take an additional seven elective courses along with the Ph.D. seminar and tutorials. This additional Ph.D. coursework may be completed in one year.

Note that passage from the M.A. to the Ph.D. program is not automatic. It is subject to approval by the Academic Committee.

Graduates of AGS' M.A. program who wish to enroll in the Ph.D. program may also benefit from the transfer of the five required courses.

Graduates of AGS' M.A. program who wish to enroll in the Ph.D. program may also benefit from the transfer of the five required courses.


Contact Us

For any questions,
please email us at info@ags.edu
or use the form below.


Laura-Lee Smith USA
M.A., School of International Relations
Class of 2009

quote leftAs citizens of the world community, AGSers share a deep will to improve international state of affairs. This drive for change translates into prescriptive discussion between students and teachers, not simply criticism. I most admire this quality about AGS and know that because we have the will to improve the system, we are the way for change.quote right

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