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Graduate Program in International Studies - Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: We try to keep these answers current, but they are not authoritative. The current Catalogue and Program Handbook are the primary source for authoritative information on program requirements.

How long does it usually take to complete the MA degree?

The MA degree requires 33 credit hours. GPIS seminars are each three credits, so the MA requires eleven seminars. The normal full time load is three seminars per semester, so full-time MA students typically take four semesters to complete the MA degree.

The usual part-time load is two seminars per semester, so pursuing the MA part-time will require six semesters.

The time needed to complete the degree might also be influenced by whether the student chooses to write a thesis or take the MA comprehensive examination. Successful fulfillment of either of these requirements is needed to obtain the MA degree.

What is the MA thesis process?

MA candidates writing theses will incorporate six credits of directed research on the thesis into their 33-credit program. The MA thesis is usually 75-100 pages. In theory, writing a thesis should take one year. In practice, however, it might take longer. The thesis is completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor and a committee of other faculty members.

What is a normal full-time load?

The normal full-time load is three seminars per semester (9 credit hours).

Is there a time limit for the MA degree?

The normal time limit is six years. Active-duty military personnel who are deployed out of the area can get an extension of up to five years.

How long does it usually take to complete the PhD degree?

The PhD degree requires 48 credit hours beyond the MA degree, in addition to the five substantive core courses. The core classes can be waived if equivalent courses have been taken during MA work. Without these waivers, the total PhD credit hours beyond the MA would be 63 (48+15). Up to 18 credit hours can be for dissertation work, so this leaves 30-45 credit hours of seminars, depending on whether any of the substantive core classes are waived. GPIS seminars are each three credit hours, so 30-45 credit hours translates into ten to fifteen seminars. At the normal full-time load of three classes per semester, this means four to five semesters of course work, plus the PhD comprehensive examination and the dissertation. Obviously, part-time work will extend this further. At two seminars per semester, it would take six to eight semesters to complete the PhD coursework.

How long does it usually take to complete a PhD dissertation?

The time it takes to complete the dissertation varies greatly among students. Some have done it in as little as eighteen months, others have struggled against the deadline of eight years for completing all of their PhD work. It depends very much on how quickly you come up with a workable topic and how well you focus your time and energy in this kind of independent work. Dissertations that require extensive fieldwork often take longer than those that are primarily library based. But, if your fieldwork requires an extended stay in southern Italy, there are other compensations.

Please also see the dissertation guidelines.

What is a PhD dissertation?

The PhD dissertation is a book-length manuscript based on independent research. The dissertation is completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor and a committee of other faculty members.

Is there a time limit for the PhD degree?

The normal time limit is eight years. Active-duty military personnel who are deployed out of the area can get an extension of up to five years.

Does the GPIS program work for active-duty military students?

Please contact the Office of Military Student Services at ODU for detailed information and assistance.

How much are the tuition rates?

There are two types of tuition rates depending on the residency status of the student - in-state tuition rates and out-of-state tuition rates.

Can I transfer from another graduate program?

Some graduate credits earned at other institutions and at Old Dominion University in non-degree status, or a combination of these, may be credited towards completion of the M.A. or Ph.D. degree. The maximum amount of transfer credits is twelve. The minimum grade on coursework that can be transferred is an "A-" and all transfer credits must be approved by the Program Director.  Transfer credits cannot have been applied towards another degree, and must be validated through the transfer credit office.

What are the areas of study at GPIS?

GPIS offers several areas of concentration out of which MA students choose one and PhD students choose two.

Who are the GPIS faculty?

The GPIS faculty are teachers and scholars. They form an interdisciplinary academic team with a variety of specializations, representing the academic disciplines of economics, history, literature, political science, and sociology.

Who are the GPIS students?

GPIS students come from various backgrounds and countries, which contributes to fruitful seminar discussions. Many students take classes while pursuing their professional careers in the military or governmental areas. GPIS has had students from China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Nigeria, and other countries.

What does a degree from GPIS prepare me to do?

GPIS graduates have gone on to successful careers in academia, government, the military, non-governmental organizations, and business.


Will I have the opportunity to teach as a student in GPIS?

Ph.D. Students do have the opportunity to teach during their time in GPIS.  Gaining teaching experience while completeing your degree requirements is an extremely important component of the skillset you will develop in GPIS if you are planning to pursue a career in Academia.  Most Ph.D. students will start teaching by working closely with a member of the GPIS faculty.  More advanced students will then move on to teach their own classes.

What seminars does GPIS offer?

The interdisciplinary nature of GPIS enables the students to select courses from a variety of disciplines, such as history, economics, military studies, comparative politics, etc.

Full listing of GPIS seminars

Seminars offered in the upcoming semesters

What are GPIS seminars like?

Most GPIS seminars are discussion based and have 8-20 members. Typically, students will be asked to read 150-400 pages per week and will be expected to come to seminar prepared to engage in a discussion of the material. Seminar requirements may include such things as book or article reviews, class presentations, short research papers, or a longer article-length final paper.

The core courses tend to be larger (20-30 students) and will involve more lecture time from the professor.

Can an internship be a part of the GPIS degree work?

GPIS students can apply up to 6 credit hours (the equivalent of two seminars) of either independent study work or internship credit towards their degree.

What are the internship opportunities in the area?

GPIS students have had the opportunity to work as interns in a number of business, governmental, and military facilities located in the Norfolk area, such as the Joint Forces Staff College, NATO's Atlantic Headquarters (SACT; former SACLANT), Norfolk Southern Corporation, or the NASA Langley Research Center. They also work in federal government agencies in and around Washington, D.C.

What are the research opportunities?

The ODU Library contains over 2 million items accessible through an online catalog. It also offers access to over 100 searchable databases provided through the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). Furthermore, faculty and students can use interlibrary loan services that allow access to the collections of more than 10,000 libraries throughout the world.

Other research sites in Norfolk and adjacent areas include the Joint Forces Staff College Library, the MacArthur Memorial Library and Archives, the William and Mary Library, or the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Is financial aid available?

GPIS has a limited number of assistantship packages to award each year. Most of these are for the PhD program, but a few will go to MA students. Assistantships are normally awarded for a whole academic year. Therefore, applicants who wish to be considered for financial aid must have a complete application submitted by February 15th for fall admission.

What do teaching and research assistants do?

Teaching assistants help GPIS faculty with their undergraduate courses. Their activities might include grading of tests and exams, holding office hours to assist students with course work, operating classroom technology, and preparing class materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, slides, etc. Some advanced teaching assistants might be asked to teach their own course.

Research assistants support GPIS faculty research and help with faculty administrative responsibilities.

What are the application deadlines?

Applications for fall semester admission to the MA and Ph.D. programs, and for financial assistance, must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions no later than February 15. Applications for spring semester admission to the MA program (only) are also accepted on a limited basis and must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions by October 15.

Where can I get an application?

Admission information

What books and articles have been published by your faculty?

To find out about the GPIS faculty research and publications, please visit the GPIS faculty page.