American University of Beirut

Department of Political Studies and Public Administration (PSPA)

Chairperson:Geukjian, Ohannes
Professor:Khashan, Hilal
Associate Professors:Frangie, Samer; Geukjian, Ohannes; Goodfield, Eric; Khodor, Hiba; Makdisi, Karim; Tell, Tariq
Associate Professor of Practice:Bahout, Joseph
Assistant Professors:Haddad, Tania; Kosmatopoulos, Nikolas
Visiting Assistant ProfessorsMouawad, Jamil
Distinguished Practitioner
of Public Policy
Nahas, Charbel
Senior LecturerBayrakdarian, Nora
Lecturers:Al-Maleh, Rand; Awada, Ghada; Douaihy, Michel; Mouawad, Jamil; Muhanna, Zeina; Shaar, Rima; Smaira, Dima; Sfeir, Antoine
Instructors:Ajamian, Melissa; Hankir, Samer; Shibli, Rabih; Yacoubian, Vera​

The Department of Political Studies and Public Administration (PSPA) offers three graduate programs: one leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Political Studies (POLS), one leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Public Administration (PUBA), and one leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA).

Graduate students in POLS and PUBA are required to complete 21 credit hours of courses (of which no more than 6 credit hours can be taken outside the major) and defend a thesis (worth 9 credits) in front of a thesis committee. PPIA students are required to complete 24 credit hours of courses (of which no more than 9 credits can be taken outside the program with the Director’s permission) and defend either a thesis (worth 6 credits) or a project (worth 3 credits) and internship (3 credits).

MA in Political Studies

Students majoring in Political Studies are required to take two core courses, which must include PSPA 300 and either PSPA 301, PSPA 310, PSPA 320. Students are encouraged to complete all core courses by the end of their second semester. Other major courses can be taken from the following list in Political Theory: PSPA 301 to PSPA 309, International Politics: PSPA 310 to PSPA 319, Comparative Politics: PSPA 320 to PSPA 329, Environmental Politics: PSPA 341 to PSPA 346, and Public Administration: 350 - 383. The remaining elective course can be taken within the major or any other relevant field (including a foreign language).”

MA in Public Administration

Students majoring in Public Administration are required to take the following core courses which include PSPA 300, PSPA 350, PSPA 351 and PSPA 352. Students are encouraged to complete all core courses by the end of their second term. Three additional graduate courses are required from one of the following sub-disciplines: Public Management: PSPA 363, PSPA 370, PSPA 371, PSPA 372, PSPA 373 and PSPA 374 add PSPA 380; PSPA 382; and Public Policy: PSPA 360, PSPA 361, PSPA 362 and PSPA 381; PSPA 383. The MA program is currently under review.

Course Descriptions

MA in Public Policy and International Affairs

The PPIA program is open to graduates from various backgrounds who wish to pursue professional or academic careers in public affairs; as well as to mid-career professionals in Lebanon, the region and internationally who wish to deepen their multidisciplinary knowledge of the relevant fields or acquire new ways of thinking and policy tools.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

The program is centered on articulating public and international policy perspectives that are well contextualized in political, economic, social and structural terms. It incorporates the specificities and particularities of the Arab world and its many constituents; links academia to the various policy communities; and seeks to increase interaction and knowledge production within a South-South context.

On successful completion of this multi-disciplinary course of study, students will be able to:

  • Explain core theories and processes of public policy and international affairs
  • Apply techniques and methodologies in public and international policy research
  • Critically analyze key policy and international affairs issues
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills in public and international policy arenas
  • Formulate domestic and international public policy alternatives and arguments
  • Critically appraise the validity and limitations of domestic and international public policy theories and arguments

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements to the program will follow FAS admissions policies. Admission to the MA in PPIA is restricted to the fall term. Applicants are generally expected to have a BA degree in a social science field (broadly defined) or one relevant to public policy and/or international affairs, or else professional experience in public policy and/or international affairs as it relates to the Arab region. In all cases, a minimum of one-year work/policy experience is strongly recommended and more is encouraged.

Applicants must have a strong academic record, two letters of recommendation (at least one must assess academic rather than professional abilities), and a statement of purpose that clearly outlines applicant’s background and goals. In addition, applicants are recommended to submit a relevant writing sample of no longer than 5,000 words.

Degree Requirements

The program permits full-time or part-time enrollments. To obtain a Master of Arts degree in Public Policy and International Affairs, the student must complete a minimum of 24 credits of graduate coursework and a thesis (6 cr.) or a final project (3 cr.) plus an internship (3 cr.). Course work must include the three core courses (PPIA 301, PPIA 302, PPIA 308) and two additional PPIA courses plus any three courses in PPIA, PSPA, or other program relevant to the student’s program of study.

Credit Summary

​Required courses
Core courses (2)​6 cr.
PPIA 308 Research Methods (or equivalent approved by director)3 cr.
Additional PPIA courses (2)6 cr.
Open Elective courses (3)9 cr.
Thesis (6 cr.) or (Internship (3 cr.) + Project (3 cr.))6 cr.
30 cr.

​Core Courses
PPIA 301​Public Policy and Practice
PPIA 302International Affairs and Policy

Thesis and Project Tracks

Thesis Track

To follow the thesis track, students must first gain approval of a thesis committee that includes members of the PPIA program faculty, and of the FAS Graduate Studies Committee, of a thesis proposal and then defend the completed Master’s thesis. Students are expected to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity, scientific rigor and professional relevance while presenting their findings. All accepted projects should be deposited at the library.

Project Track

Students are expected to complete an internship (3 cr.) plus a project (3 cr.).

PPIA students are encouraged to pursue a project track as part of their degree requirements. The project allows students to investigate an issue of relevance to public policy or international affairs in line with their personal research interests. It comprises a compulsory written academic part that tests the student’s skills in framing a project in scholarly terms (e.g.conduct basic relevant literature review) and analyzing relevant lessons learned in terms of experience, communication, collaboration, impact and ethics in regards to the project. The remainder of the project depends on the type agreed with the faculty chair and committee, and can be professional, policy or community based. Each student is assigned a committee consisting of an advisor (first reader) and a second reader who jointly supervise and guide the student throughout. It is the responsibility of the student to select a topic and submit a project proposal to be approved by her/his readers and then by the FAS Graduate Studies Committee. While the projects can be presented in diverse forms, students are expected to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity, scientific rigor and professional relevance while presenting their findings. All accepted projects should be deposited at the library. A student who is unable to finish the project within the allotted time period can petition to be allowed an additional semester subject to consent of his committee.


All project track students are required to complete an internship. Internships offer an exploration of public policy and international affairs through work experience in governmental, non-governmental, or private sector organizations. Students are responsible for securing their internships and having the PPIA program confirm that they meet AUB guidelines. Internships for credit require about 45 contact hours with about 90 hours of work beyond this (total 135 hours or about 10 hr/wk for 3 months). To register for internship the student must have his/her supervisor confirm to the PPIA program in writing at the beginning of the internships that the internships meets these guidelines. At the end of the internship, the supervisor must confirm in writing that these guidelines have been met. Upon completion, the student will write up a short report about the internship that will form a PPIA internship database. Internships can also be taken as an elective course for those on the thesis track.

Course Descriptions

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