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2021 Charting a Career Path in Global Affairs

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George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government

International Commerce and Policy Program Offers Online, In-Person Flexibility

More than a year into the pandemic, the career trajectory for students in George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government remains solid. While many industries have been hard-hit, the skills that students are acquiring in the Schar School are still in high demand.

“Our students graduate with a wide range of cross-disciplinary knowledge, as well as training in leadership skills. They know how to assess an issue and adapt to new challenges. If anything, the pandemic has only highlighted the need for employees with this kind of background,” says Ellen Laipson, director of the school’s Master’s in International Security program and the Center for Security Policy Studies.

The International Commerce and Policy program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University has proven effective at moving students from diverse backgrounds forward in their careers using applied training in key areas: research methods, economics, trade law, and financial institutions.

“It is a fantastic combination that lets our students hit the ground running in both the public sector and the private sector, as well as in international organizations and nongovernmental organizations,” says Kenneth A. Reinert, professor of public policy and director of the International Commerce and Policy program.

“Even our full-time professors, not to mention our adjuncts, have experience outside of academia in government or consulting. Our faculty understand the world outside of the university very well.” –Kenneth A. Reinert, Professor of Public Policy and Director of the International Commerce and Policy program, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

The program curriculum focuses on the commercial aspects of globalization, including trade, finance, and investment. Students are encouraged to choose their electives from throughout the Schar School, giving them access to subjects ranging from biodefense to development policy. A robust alumni network and dedicated career services team augment the student experience.

“We are multidisciplinary and focused on developing professional skills,” says Reinert. “Our faculty understand the world outside of the university very well.”

Within the International Commerce and Policy program, there are two specialized graduate certificate programs that may be taken either separately or in conjunction with the master’s program. The first certificate is in strategic trade, an area where there is overlap between the International Commerce and Policy program and the Schar School’s International Security and Biodefense programs. The second certificate is in illicit trade analysis, which looks at illegal practices within global trade, such as human trafficking.

Building a Bridge from Commercial Real Estate to Immigration Policy

Amanda Tran, 42, chose the International Commerce and Policy program to combine her professional background with her passion for immigration issues. She formerly worked in the commercial real estate industry as a research director and then a freelance writer. After serving as a board member for Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, a refugee resettlement agency, she realized that she wanted a vocation that would directly help refugees. A colleague suggested the Schar School program as a bridge to her new goals.
>>>After graduation, Tran plans to work in refugee policy, focusing on financial inclusion and integration. “This program has allowed me to build on my professional skills, so that I am well-positioned for a career change,” says Tran, of Annandale, Virginia.

The popular International Commerce and Policy program will include expanded online options in the spring 2022 semester to provide more flexibility and to accommodate non-local attendance. Students will have the option to elect the in-person track, the online track, or a combination of the two. All students will have access to the same course content and curriculum. Schar School graduate programs accommodate different schedules with full- or part-time options and evening classes.

Current students in the program encompass a wide range of backgrounds and experience levels, including both recent college graduates and seasoned professionals. One of the program’s main selling points is its ability to provide robust training in applicable skills for a variety of career paths. Graduates go on to secure competitive positions at federal and international government organizations, such as the US Department of Commerce, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, as well as at reputable private companies and consulting firms, including Fannie Mae, Honeywell, and Bloomberg.