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Learn to unpack complex global issues and prepare for a career in the public or private arena.

Program Type


Semester Start

Fall, Spring

Study Options


Minimum Duration

4 Years

UMass Boston’s Global Affairs BA was ranked as one of the Best Online Bachelor's Programs by U.S. News & World Report. The program is an interdisciplinary program that prepares you for a career in governance, politics, NGO leadership, consulting, and more. Build a whole-world perspective and become familiar with topics relevant to concerns shared among nations: cultural awareness and sensitivity, international public policy, international security, international development, economics, and environment and geography.

The first online bachelor of arts degree offered by UMass Boston, this program is ideal for individuals who seek greater flexibility in study and class session times. Our faculty have developed rigorous, high-quality online educational experiences via the online classroom — with the same support and advising as on campus programs.


  • This program consists of forty 3-credit courses, or 120 credits.
  • Online tuition is $410 per credit.
  • Total estimated cost to complete this program is $49,200.
  • Estimate is based on completing the program as a freshman by minimum duration. Other fees may apply. Request Info to connect with a program representative for further details.



  • All first year freshman – domestic and international – can apply for non-binding Early Action by November 1 with the deadline for all credentials received by November 14.
  • When applying for Regular Decision, the deadline is March 1 with credentials due by March 15.


  • All first year freshman – domestic and international – can apply for non-binding Early Action by November 1.
  • When applying for Regular Decision, the deadline is December 1 with credentials due by December 15.

Application Checklist for freshman

  • The completed application
  • Your high school transcript (an official copy including your first term or first semester senior year grades)
    • First-year students’ applications can be reviewed by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and admitted to the university after submitting at least one marking period from your senior year. You'll be required to submit a final high school transcript that indicates you have met the graduation requirements by July 15. It is expected that applicants accepted during their senior year in high school maintain a consistent performance.
  • SAT or ACT scores (unless applying with No Test Option)
  • Essay (at least 500 words)
    • All UMass Boston applicants are asked to submit a personal essay. It gives you the opportunity to present yourself in a way that grades and test scores cannot. Our admissions counselors use your essay to determine your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself clearly.
    • The admission essay is also used in consideration for admission to the university’s Honors College or scholarship opportunities for qualified applicants.
    • Please select one of the following questions and write an essay of about 500 words:
      • Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
      • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
      • Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
      • Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you and explain that influence.
      • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
      • Topic of your choice.
  • Academic Recommendation Letter (from a school-based counselor and/or teacher)
  • Application fee ($60) paid by credit or debit card
  • Verification of English language proficiency (for non-native speakers of English)
    • If you are not a native speaker of English, you are required to demonstrate your English language proficiency in one of the following ways:
    • You must submit official copies of scores directly to University of Massachusetts Boston. The CEEB code is 3924.

All documents can be mailed to:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393

Advanced Placement Credit

  • All applicants may be awarded university credit for exhibiting college level proficiency through Advanced Placement examinations. 
  • The AP Credit Policy Chart shows the required AP scores to receive course credit. All scores must be sent directly from The College Board to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

1. Required Courses (12 credits):

  • Introduction to Global Affairs (GLBAFF 220)
    Get an interdisciplinary approach to global affairs with an introduction to the complexities and interconnectedness of the global arena. You’ll be introduced to major theories, key terms, and important concepts and issues in global affairs. The purpose of this course is to analyze the dynamic interactions that transcend the nation-state to shape the world around us. This requires an appreciation of the interconnectedness of global and local events as well as the associated processes and structures.
  • Contemporary Issues in Global Affairs (GLBAFF 301)
    In this course, you’ll focus on major issue areas and topics with an international dimension and/or global impact and with salience for the emerging patterns of world politics. While engaging in critical analysis of current topics, you’ll also examine the broader conceptual context and analytic framework which explain interactions among nations.
  • Research and Methods in Global Affairs (GLBAFF 350)
    Explore the research methods and steps needed to produce a top quality research paper on an important issue/topic in the field of global affairs. You’ll learn to engage in all aspects of researching, developing, and completing a quality paper indicative of focused research, rigorous investigation, critical analysis, effective utilization of relevant concepts, and review of the literature. An analysis of the major approaches to global affairs is designed to provide a framework for an investigation of the topic (usually a case study or case studies) that you have selected for your paper. The major approaches to global affairs that will be covered are realism, neo-realism, constructivism, critical theory, classic Marxist analysis, and various neo-Marxist approaches to the study of global affairs. The course will include learning how to use scholarly journals, books, and websites in researching your paper.
  • Internship in Global Affairs (GLBAFF 490)
    As part of your degree program, you’ll participate in an internship related to global affairs. The internship can be international or domestic, if associated with global issues. The internship may take place over the summer semester or in conjunction with other courses during the spring or fall semesters. Many internships are listed every week in the Global Job Board by the Foreign Policy Association. A number of internships are usually available in the Washington, DC or New York City area, especially during the summer. It is also expected that you will be able to find a number of internships in countries other than the United States. There are a number of internship opportunities in the Boston area with organizations such as the United Nations Association of Greater Boston, World Boston, and the 70 foreign consulates located in the metro area.

2. Electives (Pick Seven, 21 credits):
Students must take at least one course from each distribution area.

Culture and Global Affairs Distribution

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 106)
    Get an introduction to the anthropological study of cultures, based on ethnographic descriptions and analyses of tribal, developing, and modern state societies. Explore a variety of concepts and approaches to the study of culture, and acquire experience in critical reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Students who have taken ANTH 103 may not receive credit for ANTH 106.  
  • Peoples and Cultures in Africa (ANTH 272)
    In this course, you’ll do an in-depth study of selected African societies, examining traditional institutions, the colonial situation, and modernization.
  • Modern Japan (ASIAN 363(L))
    Explore a historical survey of economic, social, political, and cultural developments in Japan from 1800 to the present, with special consideration of economic and foreign policy problems.
  • Women in Modern China (WGS 359)
    Examine the social and cultural roles of Chinese women, and their changes over time. Emphasis is given to twentieth-century China, especially the People's Republic period.
  • Winter and Summer Abroad Programs, as approved (3-6 credits)
    Take part in a winter or summer abroad program to earn course credit and gain real-world experience. Consult your faculty advisor for options and approval.

International Public Policy Distribution

  • Global Communications and Information (GLBAFF 305)
    Focus on the information revolution, international relations, and media coverage of international issues such as the war in Iraq, the use of geographic information systems to analyze conflict, and the popular revolutions that swept across the Middle East. You’ll learn to utilize the internet to analyze themes and geographic patterns of coverage of world events from a wide-variety of online media sources, including English language newspapers such as The Jerusalem Post, The Independent (Bangladesh), the St. Petersburg Times, The Japan Times, The Hindustan Times, The East African Standard, The People's Daily, The Teheran Times, The Jakarta Post, and the Yemen Times. You’ll learn to access other media sources online such as the US State Department's media reaction page, the ''World News Connection'' website, and ''Middle East Online'' among others. The course will conclude with a case study of the phenomenon of WikiLeaks as it applies to global affairs.
  • Foreign Policy Analysis (GLBAFF 424)
    Get the skills to apply foreign policy analysis to the real world based on a consideration of the various approaches to the study of the process of foreign policy, such as decision-making, Graham Allison's rational actor model, the organizational process and bureaucratic politics model, social psychology, the role of public opinion in foreign policy-making, comparative foreign policy, the pre-theory model of foreign policy, the role culture and identity play in foreign policy making, and national role conception identity work. You’ll analyze real world case studies utilizing these various approaches. You’ll engage in intensive analysis of historically significant international crises. At the end of the course, you’ll engage in a role playing and simulation exercises based on a topical geopolitical situation.
  • Diplomacy (GLBAFF 420)
    Study the theory and practice of diplomacy. Diplomacy, which involves the science and art of negotiation, is viewed as an institution which is central to global affairs as it has evolved over the centuries. You’ll examine the evolution of diplomacy from its classic origins to the new, modern diplomacy which has been affected by the revolution which occurred in the field of information technology as illustrated by the phenomenon of Wikileaks. You’ll focus on the different types and forms of diplomacy, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral diplomacy, citizen or two-track diplomacy, and public diplomacy among others. You’ll also engage in an analysis of such topics as sub-state and regional diplomacy, diplomacy and war, diplomacy and foreign policy, and diplomacy and intelligence.
  • The European Union (POLSCI 355)
    In this course, you’ll focus on the political, economic, and social trends affecting national and intra-regional developments within various countries, as well as on the institutions and processes of the European Union as an emerging supranational entity. Also covered: The European Union’s external relations, with particular attention to US-European issues.

International Security Distribution

  • Human Security (GLBAFF 308)
    Human security stands out in sharp contrast to the traditional approach to state security. In this course, you’ll focus on such factors as the protection of the human rights of people; the responsibility of governments to protect people from genocide; the importance of human development, global health, food security; and the protection of the environment.
  • International Terrorism (GLBAFF 309)
    In this course, you’ll focus on International Terrorism. The course defines terrorism as a deliberate act designed to inflict violence on and cause harm to innocent civilians for a variety of motivations, ranging from ideological factors on both the left and the right wings of the political spectrum, to promoting a religious cause such as engaging in a Holy War, to realizing the self-determination of a group of people who ae pursuing separatist objectives. Special attention in this course will be paid to 9/11, al Qaeda, the war against terror, and some of the ethical and moral dilemmas which this raises.
  • Global Health Issues (GLBAFF 311)
    In this course, you’ll focus on an investigation of the extent to which an effective system of global governance exists to deal with such international health issues as health security and the human right to health within the context of the increasingly important role of information technology in the prevention and surveillance of infectious and communicable diseases. A major focus of the course will be placed on the health disparities which exist between the developed and developing countries and efforts by the international health community to eliminate those gaps. The role of the World Health Organization in dealing with international health issues will also be analyzed, especially in connection with the growing importance of other non-state international health actors such as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and foundations (the Gates Foundation). The relationship between world politics and global health will also be examined throughout the course.  
  • War (POLSCI 421)

International Development and Economics Distribution

  • Global Financial Markets (GLBAFF 310)
    This course is designed to familiarize non-business students with the global financial markets, including stocks, bonds, derivatives, real estate, and currency markets; to acquaint you with the history of global financial market's crises; to expand your awareness and understanding of financial markets' products and services, the global financial markets players, and financial markets regulators.
  • International Institutions and Management of Development (GLBAFF 312)
    Get an in-depth exploration of the role that various types of international organizations play in international development. Examine the major development organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and regional development banks, as well as bi-lateral aid agencies (USAID, DFID, JICA), international NGO's (Soros, Clinton, Gates), and the increasing role of international corporations and militaries in development efforts. You’ll read assigned materials, review websites and other online materials, engage in online discussions with your cohort, and complete writing assignments.
  • Regional Political Economy (GLBAFF 313)
    In this course, you’ll start with a theoretical discussion of regions, regionalism, and regional organizations. Special attention will be paid to the case of regionalism and political economy in Europe and the future of the European project within the context of the Eurozone crisis. Emphasis will also be placed on the role of the European Union as a major non-state actor in the international, regional, and sub-regional systems both during and after the Cold War. Particular attention will be paid to the enlargement of the European Union and NATO eastward into the former communist sphere of influence. Other important regional and sub-regional organizations, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East will be analyzed.
  • Third World Development (POLSCI 375)
    You’ll investigate theories of interdependence, dependency, and neocolonialism with special attention to North/South relations, various approaches to development and forms of assistance provided by the industrial countries, resource problems, and other political and developmental issues facing North and South.

International Environment and Geography Distribution

  • The Global Environment (ENVSCI 101)
    Get an analysis of the physical geographic environment including the globe, the atmosphere and ocean, climate, soils, vegetation, and landforms. You’ll also examine positive and negative interaction of human beings with these aspects of the environment, where appropriate.
  • World Regional Geography (ENVSCI 102)
    Get an overview of world regions in terms of physical environment, human populations, and the relationship between them. Topics with a focus on diversity are discussed from an international viewpoint and center on particular countries.
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (ENVSCI 281)
    In this course, you’ll study computer handling of spatial data. You’ll cover essential elements of a GIS, hardware requirements, GIS software, data acquisition, data structures, spatial databases, methods of data analysis and spatial modeling, and applications of GIS in solving a variety of environmental and economic problems.

3. General Education Requirements (87 credits)

The general education curriculum at UMass Boston gives you multiple opportunities to build and improve upon your academic foundation to provide you with a strong foundation for success in future courses and your career. You will be exposed to the fundamental ideas and intellectual activities that students and faculty across campus and around the world – in the arts, humanities, business, and the social and natural sciences – utilize in scholarship. General Education course topics include:

  • English
  • Science
  • Math
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • World Languages and World Cultures
  • Foreign Language

At the end of this four-year program, you’ll be awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs. The degree will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. The program prepares you for advanced study and a career in governance, politics, non-government organization (NGO) leadership, consultancy, enterprise systems, and management of regional economies.

Why UMass Boston Online?


Among the lowest online tuition rates of an accredited, public research university.


Study full-time to finish fast, or part-time to suit your schedule. Live sessions scheduled with the working professional in mind.


The same courses taught by the same academic departments as on campus. No third-party providers.

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Global Affairs BA