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US Foreign Policy: Traditions and Tensions


Get a first-hand introduction to US foreign policy and the current issues that impact US foreign policy formation since the end of the Cold War. At the heart of any understanding of the foreign policy of the United States is a focus on the relationships it maintains with other nations in the international system. However, US foreign policy is also influenced by the political, social, and cultural interactions of important domestic and international actors that are constantly changing.

This course, offered through James Madison College, will focus on providing an understanding of the policy formation process and the direction of US foreign policy from a broad historical and international perspective. In addition to understanding elements of US foreign policy, this course will provide students with an introduction to the relevant academic literature that influences US foreign policy makers and the policies they enact. The course consists of three distinct elements; overview of the foreign policy process, introduction to relevant academic theories/concepts regarding state behavior and foreign policy, and analysis of topics and themes relevant to contemporary US foreign policy.


This course is taught by Full-Time MSU Faculty, providing you with the opportunity to work with experts the US Foreign Policy field. Our faculty look forward to teaching ASP courses and often remain connected to students long after the course finishes. 


Students will live in the brand new Springhill Suites by Marriott Hotel just a 5 minute walk from MSU's campus!

Accommodation Includes:

  • All students will be paired with a roommate of the same gender orientation based on answers to a housing questionnaire.
  • Rooms are double queen rooms with two queen beds, a large couch, desk, walk-in closet, and large bathroom.
  • All rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV with cable and Netflix access, microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator.
  • Single rooms may be available upon request for an additional fee.

While the Springhill Suites is not located on campus, you can see campus from the hotel! Located less than 1 mile away from Case Hall where all class session will be held, Springhill Suites will be your home away from home. The hotel is located next to a Fresh Thyme grocery store, featuring farmers market produce and organic products. It is also just feet away from Mediterranean, Indian, Korean, and traditional American fast food restaurants. Literally a 5 minute walk from one of the entrances to MSU’s large campus, you can’t really get any closer!

Internet Access in at Springhill Suites and on Campus

  • Wi-Fi is available in all rooms and common spaces throughout Springhill Suites.
  • Access to MSU's guest and internal Wi-Fi is provided and is available in all campus buildings.

Springhill Suites Security

  • Springhill Suites has a service desk staffed 24-7. The staff can answer any questions residents have and can help resolve maintenance issues by contacting maintenance staff.
  • The front door to Springhill Suites is locked beginning at 11pm and residents will be buzzed in by hotel staff.


  • The hotel features a lobby area with ample seating perfect for studying, group meetings, and hanging out with friends.
  • You will also have access to a large fitness center and small pool.
  • Residents enjoy free printing from their own computer to the lobby printer.
  • Snacks and beverages are available for purchase in the lobby.
  • A full continental breakfast with hot and cold food items is available each morning, with free coffee all day!

Activities & Excursions

Student Support

US Foreign Policy: Traditions and Tensions

This Short Course is provided by the American Semester Program (ASP), a unit within the Office for Education Abroad at Michigan State University. ASP provides semester and year-long study abroad programs in addition to Short Courses offered in July and January each year. The small team of expert coordinators provides all ASP students one-on-one health, safety, and academic support and carefully designs programming that will integrate them into college life at MSU and in the Midwest United States. On this Short Course, students will be supported by the Short Course Coordinator and her team of Stewards who are on call 24/7 to support students and ensure a high-quality and fun experience for all participants.

MSU Women's Basketball Game 
One thing that’s bigger than sport at Michigan State is team spirit, which is why attending an MSU basketball game is a must! Sport your MSU colors and head down with fellow students to get the full American college team spirit experience.

Tour of the Michigan Capitol Building
Lansing is just down the road from MSU, and it is our state capital. Tour the historic building and learn about Michigan’s history and how our government works.

Snow Tubing at Hawk Island Park
Whether you have seen snow before or not, a study abroad program in Michigan (in January) is incomplete without a tubing trip! We will visit Hawk Island Park for a afternoon of snow tubing and hot cocoa.

Detroit Red Wings Ice Hockey Game
Visit Detroit – the largest city in Michigan and home to many professional sports team as part of the Downtown Entertainment District. As part of this excursion, you will get to experience American hockey at the brand new Little Caesar's Arena. 

Trip to Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall
Shop till you trip at one of Michigan's premier indoor outlet malls. Great Lakes Crossing offers hundreds of stores, restaurants and experiences to fill your day with fun!

Ice Skating at Munn Ice Arena
Test your balance and endurance at the Clarence L. "Biggie" Munn Ice Arena, which is one of the finest collegiate hockey facilities in the country. 

Graduation Ceremony
Celebrate with your new friends the completion of your American Semester Program Short Course! Take part in an American style graduation (after decorating your grad cap!) and enjoy some yummy treats before you depart East Lansing. 

Course Objectives & Outcomes

After successfully completing this short course, participants will have gained the following skills and knowledge:

Understand the major theoretical perspectives regarding international politics and security that impact the formation of U.S Foreign and National Security Policies.

Identify specific issues and themes that impact the direction and content of U.S Foreign Policy. Issues and themes to be covered in class include; the Rise of China, Challenges in Europe, and changing dynamics involving the Middle East.

Understand the roles of important actors in the US foreign policy establishment and the political processes of how foreign policy is formulated.


Group Project – 20%

Mid-Program Exam – 25%

Research Project – 30%

Participation – 25%



Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 

Michigan enjoys all four seasons, and in January, MSU will be covered in a blanket of fluffy snow. Pictured here is an MSU landmark, Beaumont Tower.

Learn more about MSU!

277256457_1924544247752796_4312178724828461597_n.jpgPROGRAM DATES

January 14 - February 3, 2023

  • January 14: Student Arrival
  • January 15: Orientation
  • January 15-February 1: Courses and Activities
  • February 2: Final Exams & Graduation
  • February 3: Student Departure

273641322_4925016740924929_2598143700889168770_n (1).jpgPROGRAM COST

$3,500 USD


  • Program Orientation and Tuition
  • On-Campus Meals
  • Shared room in Springhill Suites Hotel
  • Red Wings Hockey Game (Detroit)
  • Outlet Mall Shopping Trip
  • Graduation Ceremony


How to Apply.png

Apply online to a Short Course program through our online application system. After creating your Traveler Profile, you can find this program and begin your application. Before you begin your application, however, please prepare the following (you will not be able to complete your application without them):

  • 500-word Personal Essay
    • Please explain why you believe you are qualified for this course and why you want to study abroad at Michigan State University in the USA.
  • Academic Transcript
    • Copies and unofficial transcripts are accepted.
    • You transcript must have your full name and your school’s seal/logo/name clearly visible.

The American Semester Program is looking for applicants who are in good standing at their home universities. Your application will be closely reviewed, and if you have several failed courses, you may be asked to submit additional materials to support your application. The faculty instructors of each course have the final admissions decision and they reserve the right to deny admission.

Application Deadline is November 20, 2022.

 Ready to join us this January? Apply Now