New master’s program offers range of opportunities

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Department of International Studies Head Dr. Yuting Wang (SALMA GHALWASH PHOTO)

By Salma Ghalwash

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – All students enrolled in the Master of Arts program in International Studies at the American University of Sharjah have received graduate assistantships and can finish their graduate studies without paying tuition, said Head of the Department of International Studies and Sociology Professor Dr. Yuting Wang.

“They’re likely to complete the program without paying for it,” Wang said in a Sept. 4 interview. “It’s rare now for a master’s program to provide funding,” she added. INS faculty members have also supported graduate students with their Faculty Research Grants.

“The students that we admitted are really committed and seem to be very excited about the new program and their journey here at AUS,” she said.

Noting that only eight students have enrolled in the two-year program, Wang said that the department is “starting small and structured.” Two courses are available this semester: Advanced International Affairs, taught by Dr. Jeffrey King, and Advanced Research Methods, taught by Dr. Bethany Shockley.

New resources

To meet the demand of a robust undergraduate program and a new graduate program, the department hired new full-time faculty members last year, including an anthropologist, a philosopher, a sociologist and two political scientists, Wang said. The department will offer more required and elective courses in the spring.

Wang said that sustaining undergraduate and graduate teaching at the same time would be “very difficult” as undergraduate courses are in high demand. Since the launch of the MAIS program, Wang has received inquiries from current students that are planning to apply for it. 

‘Repertoire of Knowledge’

Since the program combines policy-related and academic-oriented focus, students can pursue diverse career paths, Wang said. She added that some students who aim to advance their careers in the professional or government sectors, or shift directions after gaining substantial experiences in a particular field, would benefit from pursuing further postgraduate studies.

“We’re seeing students who are trying to enrich their own repertoire of knowledge to bring back to their jobs,” Wang said.

Long process

The INS department began drafting a proposal for a master’s program in 2018, she said. The COVID-19 pandemic paused progress for three years. After a lengthy accreditation process, multiple revisions of documents and an onsite visit from the Commission of Academic Affairs, the MAIS program received approval in June. Wang added that there was just over a month to promote it and process applications.

“This new program is going to generate greater synergistic activities and international collaborations, and can help increase our research output,” Wang said.