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MPIA Two Capitals, Two Masters (TCTM)

The partnership between Virginia Tech and University of Kent, Brussels, creates a unique, time efficient graduate program for students to study international relations in a Euro-Atlantic context. Two Capitals, Two Masters is an innovative double Master’s program, designed to offer students the opportunity to study, train, and network in two major centers of political activity, Washington D.C. and Brussels.

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The partnership between Virginia Tech and University of Kent, Brussels, allows graduate students a unique, time efficient program to study international relations in a Euro-Atlantic context. Two Capitals, Two Masters is an innovative double Master’s program, designed to offer students the opportunity to study, train, and network in two major centers of political activity, Washington D.C. and Brussels.

With their locations, near the U.S. executive (The White House), legislative (U.S. Congress) and judicial (Supreme Court) branches in Washington D.C. and NATO and EU headquarters in Brussels, the two universities offer ample opportunities for learning, research and professional advancement.

The program is designed for students interested to study the corridors of power up close and personal, as decisions about international politics are being made. The program benefits students interested in government, teaching or non-profit careers, helps them learn to navigate the U.S. and the EU institutional structures, and offers them opportunities to network for their future. It allows students to earn two graduate degrees — an appealing feature in the job market — in half the time, and for half the cost of a typical graduate degree in the United States, making it a cost and time-effective alternative to existing graduate programs in international affairs.

The program consists of the following:

  1. One year of study at the University of Kent, Brussels (UKB): Students select an MA from the following specializations: international relations, international conflict and security, international political economy, European public policy, or international development.
  2. One year of study at Virginia Tech, National Capital Region (VT-NCR): Students enroll in the Master’s in Public and International Affairs (MPIA).
  3. At the end of two years, students earn an MA from UKB, and an MPIA from VT.

The admissions process for the Two Capitals program is the same as regular admission to the two universities. Students can enter the program by applying at both universities at the same time, or in sequence.

U.S. students need an average of 3.2 GPA if they want to enroll in Two Capitals.

UKB students need an average score of 60 or better if they want to enroll in Two Capitals.

There is no deadline to apply for an MA at UKB, applications are considered as they are received. If prospective students are from outside the EU, it is recommended they apply no later than three months prior to desired start date.

Virginia Tech has application deadlines. For U.S. students, for admission in the Fall semester, deadline is August 1st; for admission in the spring semester, deadline is January 1st. For non-U.S. students, for admission in the Fall semester, deadline is April 1st; for admission in the spring semester, deadline is September 1st.

Click here to apply for admission at UKB.

Click here to apply for admission at VT.

Two Capitals is open to U.S. and non-U.S. students seeking Masters degrees. Students can start planning for the program by reading the information on this webpage carefully, understanding the deadlines for admissions, and the requirements for entering the program. This is an intensive program, designed for students who want to earn two Master’s degrees in half the time and for half the cost it normally takes in the United States to pursue two graduate degrees.

U.S. Students
Earning a Master’s degree in the United States is a two-year process. By enrolling in Two Capitals, students earn two graduate degrees in two years, from two different institutions.

U.S. students can start the program in Brussels or in Washington D.C. (Arlington campus).

– If students start the program in Brussels, they complete an MA in one year (see Programs/Schedule of Study). Then they enroll in the MPIA program at VT, and the credits earned in University of Kent, Brussels (UKB) transfer towards the completion of the MPIA degree. Students can expect to finish both degrees in two years if they choose this option.

– If students start the program in Washington D.C. (Arlington campus), they take a year of courses in the MPIA degree. Then they move to Brussels and complete requirements for an MA of their choice in one year. The credits earned in UKB are then transferred towards the completion of the second year of MPIA. Students will need to return to the U.S. and finish the final project, a major paper. Students can expect to finish both degrees in approximately three years if they choose this option.

– If students want to earn the two degrees in two years, it is recommended that they start in UKB, then come to VT for the second year.

Non U.S. Students
Non-U.S. students can start Two Capitals in Brussels, at the University of Kent (UKB); or in Washington D.C., at Virginia Tech National Capital Region (VT-NCR).

– If students start at UKB, they earn an MA in a specialization of their preference in one year (see Programs/Schedule of Study). Then they come to VT-NCR to start their MPIA program. Credits earned in UKB transfer towards the completion of the MPIA. Students choosing this option can expect to earn the two graduate degrees in two years.

– If students start at VT-NCR, they complete the first year of course work. Then they go to UKB for one year (see Programs/Schedule of Study). Then they return to the U.S. to complete the MPIA degree. Credits earned in UKB transfer towards the completion of the second year of course work necessary to earn the MPIA degree. Students will finish the MPIA requirements by writing a major paper. Students choosing this option can expect to earn the two graduate degrees in approximately three years.

Brussels and Washington D.C. offer practical opportunities for students to deepen and apply their theoretical knowledge of politics, by seeking internships in think-tanks or government institutions, attending hearings, meetings and seminars in their areas of interest, and seeking after-school jobs.

BRUSSELS

Brussels is the location for the headquarters of the European Union (EU), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Students have opportunities to seek internships, attend public meetings, seminars and conferences, and network. Distances are short relative to the United States, and a student can visit Luxembourg, Paris, or London in a day trip, on public transportation.

WASHINGTON D.C.

Washington D.C. is the center of American political power. The Congress of the United States with its two chambers, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court are located in downtown D.C. The Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, is a short car ride away in Northern Virginia. Students have opportunities to seek internships, attend public meetings, public hearings in Congress or the Supreme Court, and visit any of these institutions. Public transportation consists of metro and buses; and the routes and schedule of operations are available on the internet.

Arriving in the U. S.

The closest international airports to Washington D.C. are Dulles International Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Public transportation consists of buses, taxi cabs, or shuttles that can take the students to their destination.

Finding a place to live

The Virginia Tech National Capital Region (VT-NCR) is located at 900 N. Glebe Road, 6th Floor, VTRC, Arlington, VA 22203. It is bus and Metro accessible.

For the Master’s in Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech Northern Capital Region (MPIA)

The two-year MPIA degree is a 36 credit hour degree. Students take 12 credit hours of foundational core classes, 12 credit hours of modes of inquiry classes, and 12 credit hours of elective classes (click here for the most recent handbook; course listings start on page 11). Classes are focused on various aspects and dimensions of ‘global security,’ including new security agendas, conflict analysis and resolution, international development and international political economy.

Students enrolled in Two Capitals transfer credits from University of Kent Brussels towards the completion of the 36 credit hour requirement. The maximum they can transfer is 15 credits, or the equivalent of 5 three credit courses.

The final requirement is to write a major paper, which is a journal article sized academic work on a subject determined by students in consultation with their advisor.

For the MA at University of Kent, Brussels Economics Module at University of Kent
Students can select any of the following MA degrees: international relations, international conflict and security, international political economy, European public policy, or international development. Irrespective of which MA they choose, the following applies:

– 12 months of graduate work at much higher intensity than undergraduate study.
– 6 modules during the first two semesters. Each module is worth 20 credits (10ECTS).
– Write a thesis during the summer semester. The thesis is 60 credits.

Schedule of Study
Depending on where and when students start the Two Capitals program, they can earn two graduate degrees in two years, or more.

Semesters:
– Fall semester: At University of Kent, Brussels (UKB), the Fall semester starts in September and ends in December. At Virginia Tech National Capital Region (VT-NCR), it starts late August through December.
– Spring semester: At UKB, spring semester starts in January through April. At VT-NCR, it starts in January through May.
– Summer semester: UKB has one summer semester, May through August. VT-NCR has two short summer semesters (six weeks each), from late May through early July, and early-July through mid-August.

Starting the program at the University of Kent, Brussels (UKB):
– The general schedule of study is two semesters of course work at UKB (Fall and spring), and one semester of thesis research and writing (summer). Courses (in UKB they are called Modules) are offered during the day.
– Then students transfer to VT-NCR, starting in late August. The schedule of study is two semesters of course work (Fall and spring), and completion of a major paper during the summer. Courses at VT-NCR are offered late afternoon and early evening.
– Students who choose this option can expect to earn two graduate degrees in two years.

Starting the program at VT-NCR:
– Students complete two semesters of graduate course work (Fall and spring). Courses at VT-NCR are offered late afternoon and early evening.
– Then they transfer to UKB to complete two semesters of graduate course work (Fall and spring), and one semester of thesis research and writing (summer). Courses (in UKB they are called Modules) are offered during the day.
– Then students return to VT-NCR, where the credits earned at UKB transfer towards completion of course work for the MPIA degree. Students have a final project to complete, a major paper during the summer.
– Students who choose this option can expect to earn two graduate degrees in approximately three years.

Starting the program at either university, in the spring semester:
– Students complete two semesters of course work, spring and Fall at VT-NCR or UKB; then they write a thesis (UKB) or major paper (VT-NCR) by the end of the following spring semester. During the summer between the course work, they can seek internships.
– Students who choose this option can expect to earn two graduate degrees in three years or more.

Cost of Program

Course Fees for the year at University of Kent, Brussels
– Approximately 18,500 euro per year (or around $20,555/year)
- Click here for university fees.

Cost of living in Brussels (estimates per month):
– Accommodations range between $640 to $1,040 depending on single-room occupancy or shared apartment; and on area of the city and size of apartment.
– Food ranges between $160 to $320.
– Other expenses (laundry, socializing, cell phone service) range between $400 to $1,000.
– Health insurance is required.

Course Fees for the year in Washington D.C. 
– For U.S. students: in-state or out-of-state tuition, as the case may be. Approximately $15,300 per year for Virginia residents and approximately $30,400 per year for non-Virginia residents.
Click here for university fees.

Cost of living in Washington D.C. (estimates per month):
– Accommodations average $1,200, depending on single-room occupancy or shared apartment; and on area of the city and size of apartment.
– Food ranges between $300 to $800, depending on whether students eat out, or cook for themselves.
– Other expenses (laundry, books, socializing, cell phone service) range between $300 to $500.
– Health insurance is required.

Financial Aid

1. U.S. students can apply for federal loans or grants in accordance with the law, for both years in the Two Capitals program. Click here for the VT financial aid office to find options.

Some financial aid may become available from Virginia Tech, on a case by case basis. Please contact the Chair of the Government and International Affairs program at gia@vt.edu.

2. Non-U.S. students need to inquire with University of Kent in Brussels about their options. Click here for UKB financial aid office.

Q: If a student wants to start Two Capitals in Brussels, finish the UKB degree requirements, then spend some time in Europe before returning to Washington DC to complete the MPIA degree requirements, is that possible?
A: The student visa expires two weeks after completing the requirements for the UKB degree, and the university cannot extend that visa. If students want to spend more time in Europe but retain the option of pursuing Two Capitals, they can enroll as part-time students at UKB. That will enable them to finish the degree in two years, and give them more time in Europe.

Q: Can students start the program in spring?
A: They can, but it will take them longer to complete the degrees.

Q: How do I pick an MA at UKB?
A: It is entirely up to the student’s academic interests. UKB offers a variety of MA programs to choose from, see Programs/Course Work. VT offers only the MPIA program.

Q: How many credits can I transfer from UKB to VT?
A: Students can transfer a maximum of 15 credits, or the equivalent of 5 three credit courses from UKB to VT.

Q: Can U.S. students apply for federal aid in pursuit of Two Capitals?
A: Yes, they can. They can apply for financial aid for the year in the MPIA, and the year in the UKB.

Q: Can U.S. students work during their year in Brussels?
A: Yes. Based on their valid student visa status, they can work up to 20 hours a week.

Q: Can non-U.S. students work during their year in Washington DC?
A: Yes, to the extent that their F-1 visa permits it.

Q: Can non-U.S. students work in the United States after they graduate?
A: By law, non-U.S. students holding a valid F-1 visa have 18 months of “practical training” after they graduate. That means they can work in a field related to their graduate studies for 18 months after graduation.

GIA Contacts

Ariel Ahram
GIA Chair
ahram@vt.edu

GIA Locations

Washington D.C.
900 N. Glebe Road, 6th Floor, VTRC
Arlington, VA  22203