Last Updated on January 17, 2023
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Master’s and doctoral degree candidates take more advanced and narrowly focused coursework than undergraduate students. To prepare for writing a dissertation, they typically have to take classes in quantitative and qualitative data analysis and research design.
The international relations major involves studying world societies and the interactions between them. Students with a concentration in this subject area develop expertise in diplomacy and foreign policy.
Many colleges and universities offer students an interdisciplinary approach which often includes coursework in history, politics, economics, world languages, and geography, or some combination of those disciplines. You can earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate (Ph.D.) degree in international relations. Master’s and Ph.D. programs are usually more specialized than undergraduate ones.
Like other liberal arts degrees, a degree in this discipline will not give you entry into a specific occupation. It will, instead, provide you with a broad knowledge base that you can use to excel in a variety of career fields.
What Coursework Can You Look Forward To?
The interdisciplinary approach many colleges and universities favor means those who are working toward a degree in international relations take a diverse range of courses. Here are some of the general classes as well as those in each of the disciplines many colleges incorporate into their curriculum: political science, geography, economics, and history. Some programs also include classes in anthropology, international law, and religious studies. There is often a world language requirement as well.
Specifics vary by school. It is important to investigate several colleges and universities to find the one that takes an approach to international relations that will allow you to reach your career goals.
Students who major in this subject will take courses specific to this area of study as well as classes in other disciplines. Here are some international relations course titles at various schools:
- International Relations: Theory and Practice
- History of International Relations
- Globalization and World Order
- Non-Violent Conflict and Resolution
- Peacemaking and Negotiation
- Globalization and International Development
- Challenges and Dilemmas in American Foreign Policy
- Schools of Thought in International Relations
- Global Security
- Diplomacy and Statecraft
Political science deals with domestic and international governance. It is essential for experts in international relations to understand the governmental structures of different countries. Your coursework will analyze government systems and political ideologies and behavior inside and outside the United States. These are some of the classes you may take:
- Politics in the United States
- International Politics: Methods of Analysis
- Politics of Third World Nations
- Comparative Politics
- The Politics and Psychology of Persuasion and Prejudice
- Money and Power in the International Political Economy
- Middle Eastern Political Systems
- Human Rights in World Politics
- Electoral Systems
- Failed States
The study of geography covers the physical features of the earth and the effects human beings have on it. International relations experts need a good understanding of this subject matter. For example, you must be aware of the locations of nations around the world and their proximity to one another. Some college and universities require international relations majors to take the following classes:
- World Regional Geography
- Cultural Geography
- Political Geography
- Disasters Preparedness and Hazards Mitigation
The study of economics is concerned with the allocation of tangible and intangible resources. An understanding of how this happens will go a long way toward having the ability to make sense of global interactions.
- Introductory Economics Micro
- International Trade
- International Economic Institutions
- Economics of Less Developed Regions
- Economic Development in Latin America
- Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
- International Economics
- China: Economic Development and Reform
- Economies in Transition
- History of Economic Thought
Without knowledge about the past, it is impossible to move forward. Many colleges offer these and similar classes to students in International relations programs:
- Historical Intro to Latin America
- History of Modern Mexico
- Europe in the 20th Century
- European Women Since the Middle Ages
- History of Terrorism
- History of Germany
- History of the Modern Balkans
- Modern Africa
- History of the Caribbean
- Traditional India
International Relations Careers
Effective foreign outreach work requires a nuanced understanding of the ways governing bodies, industries, militaries and citizens of different nations interact, and how the evolving dynamics between sovereign states impact these interactions. It also deals with the forces, factors, customs, rules, and norms that affect how the global systems of governance, business, and public service function.
International relations specialists attempt to guide the behavior of stakeholders within nation states, and the global relationships that result. Because international relations permeates nearly every aspect of our interconnected world, institutions in all sectors—private, governmental, nonprofit, and intergovernmental—oversee these relationships. What varies, however, are the specific functions of international relations specialists that represent these institutions.
Because of the sheer number of organizations, agencies, industries and individuals involved in establishing and maintaining positive relations across national borders, international relations jobs are best organized by sector:
- Public (government)
- Private (business)
- Nonprofit (non-governmental organizations, or NGOs)
International Relations Careers By State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
international relations career path
Three fifths of international relations graduates are in employment six months after graduation. A fifth become business, HR and finance professionals. Popular jobs include marketing professionals, researchers (national security and police) and business and related associate professionals. Just under a quarter go onto further study either full or part time, and a further 5.7% choose to work and study.
|Working and studying||5.7|
Graduate destinations for international relations
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and financial||20.5|
|Marketing, PR and sales||17.4|
|Retail, catering and bar work||11.1|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||10.9|
What Can I Become If I Study International Relations?
Getting a Master’s degree in International Relations is one of the key ways you can make the world a better place. If you’re reading this, you must be wondering: what can you do with an International Relations degree?
You’ll have the opportunity to maintain positive diplomatic relations between countries, prevent international conflicts, and make sure things run smoothly between governments in our highly interconnected world.
As an international relations specialist, you will have a broad set of career options in addition to politics, including in fields like economics, social systems and the cultural life of communities.
Where to study a Master’s degree in International Relations?
Not sure where to study a Master’s in International Relations? Check out just a few top universities offering Masters in International Relations:
- University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
- Anglo-American University, in Prague, Czech Republic
- University of Gdansk, in Gdansk, Poland
- Radboud University, in Nijmegen, Netherlands
- Yasar University, in Izmir, Turkey
- Roskilde University, in Roskilde, Denmark
International Relations Jobs in the Public Sector
Within the public sector, international relations professionals of every kind contribute to the legislative and policy development process on Capitol Hill, or otherwise work as direct representatives of Federal government agencies.
International Relations Jobs on Capitol Hill
International relations jobs on Capitol Hill exist throughout the 535 Congressional offices (includes the Senate and House of Representatives), as well as the more than 300 committees and subcommittees working in various areas of specialization – from economic development to global security.
Capitol Hill employers of international relations professionals include:
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee
- Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
- House Committee on International Relations
- House Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Congressional Research Service
- Library of Congress
Professionals working on Capitol Hill that contribute to international relations include:
Research and Subject Specialists – These professionals research and follow legislation, as well as draft bills.
Ombudsmen – Ombudsmen are responsible for promoting the image and agenda of state representative’s, responding to constituent inquires, and overseeing the general administrative duties of the office.
Committee Staff – These professionals are responsible for drafting legislation, preparing reports, and arranging for expert testimony.
Issue Specialists – Issues specialists work in the legislative arena, where they conduct research, prepare reports, draft bills, and arrange for expert testimony.
International Relations Jobs in the Federal Government
International relations jobs in the federal government exist not only in agencies like the Department of State and in the Agency for International Development, but in the international affairs divisions of nearly every federal agency, such as:
- Department of Energy
- Department of the Treasury
- Federal Trade Commission
- National Telecommunications and Information Administration
- Office of the Secretary
- United States Department of Justice
- United States Department of the Interior
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Homeland Security
High-profile careers in international relations in the government sector include:
Foreign Policy Advisors – Foreign policy advisors provide advice on a variety of foreign policy topics. They generally work for a government agency or as a political appointee in the state or federal government.
Political Analysts – Political analysts support U.S. policymakers by evaluating the goals and motivations of foreign governments and entities. They examine the political, economic and societal results of policies and strategies and how they affect U.S. interests.
Foreign Affairs Officers – Foreign affairs officers monitor the effects of governments in multilateral organizations. They evaluate diplomatic statements made by representatives of governments and organizations, review statements and documents related to human rights issues, and serve as delegates to multilateral human rights negotiations.
Diplomatic/Foreign Service Officers – Diplomatic/foreign service officers are professionally trained diplomats that serve as technical advisors, supporting foreign development assistance activities as well as contracting and procurement activities. Job duties include reviewing and analyzing data and providing advice on contracting and procurement issues.
US embassies around the world staff foreign service officers with expertise in a number of different areas:
- Economic Officers
- Management Officers
- Political Officers
- Public Diplomacy Officers
- Consular Officers
International Relations Jobs in the Private Sector
International relations specialists in the private sector frequently serve as general industry and specific company representatives that work to streamline commerce across national borders in an effort to further business interests.
They may also work as journalists that specialize in foreign correspondence and investigative reporting on global issues.
International Business Consultants – Although larger corporations often keep business consultants on staff, they are generally hired as independent contractors for specific projects who conduct research, analyze the data, and present the findings. Although they conduct much of their work remotely, it is important for these international relations specialists to work on premises, getting to know the client and the intricacies of their operations. It is typical for consultants to work in teams.
- Management Consultants: Management consultants solve problems and develop strategies for their international business clients. In general, they help clients solve specific, short-term goals.
- Strategy Consultants: Strategy consultants, who also serve as crucial members of a consulting team, research and develop strategies for improving a company’s long-term goals.
Risk Analysts – Risk analysts, most often referred to political risk analysts, follow trends and current events and then determine the risks associated with proposed business strategies based on:
- Government instability
- Current inconvertibility
- Social conditions
Risk analysts gather information on a country or region, determine the sources of any related risks, and prevent their findings to business leaders making investment decisions. These international affairs experts may also prescribe risk management solutions for their clients and make recommendations before they invest in a specific region or area of the world.
Risk analysts provide their services to a wide array of clientele, including:
- Large consulting firms
- Insurance companies
- International businesses
- Financial companies
- Rating services
- Energy corporations
- Banks (credit, fixed income, and equities)
Analysts possess a wide breadth of knowledge about countries, legal systems, and business practices. Analysts also work as specialists for rating agencies and organizations like the State Department.
Journalists – Journalists in international relations report on current affairs as they relate to international issues. International journalists may work for print publications, electronic media, or television/radio broadcasts. Depending on their field of expertise, international affairs journalists may report on issues such as:
- Foreign affairs
International Relations Jobs with Nonprofits and Nongovernmental Organizations
Just a few of the nonprofit organizations where international relations jobs abound include:
- Institute of International Education
- Peace Corps
- Teach for America
- Transitions Abroad
Some of the leading international relations jobs in nonprofit organizations include:
Directors, Global Communications – Director of global communications are responsible for overseeing the full spectrum of media, marketing, and public relations. This includes leading projects, drafting press releases, fielding press calls, and coordinating cross-department marketing meetings.
Grant Writers – Grant writers prepare the documentation necessary to secure grant money from governments or foundations. The job duties of grant writers include developing proposals, writing project descriptions, and compiling other information required by grant makers.
Program Coordinators, Outreach – Program coordinators in outreach work in support of nonprofit initiatives. Their job duties include assisting with planning and logistics, tracking responses and participation, preparing meeting materials, and cultivating strong relationships with new and existing constituents.
Program Managers – Program managers manage the operations of a nonprofit’s program. Their job duties include handling the organization’s financial operations, overseeing the program administration, and directing the fundraising activities.
Development Directors – Development directors conduct fundraising campaigns that are consistent with the nonprofit’s action plans and policies. This includes maintaining consistent contacts with potential donors, securing new sources of unrestricted financial support, and developing and submitting proposals for fundraising events.
Nonprofit Organizations Focused on International Relations
Foundations – Foundations are nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that are self-funded and managed by their own trustees and directors. These organizations have a singular focus in mind—usually educational, social, religious, or charitable in nature. Foundations often make grants to other nonprofit organizations so as to sponsor research, social welfare, and other programs.
Humanitarian Aid Organizations – Humanitarian aid organizations focus on the less-developed regions of the world, many of which are plagued by malnutrition, deadly diseases, poor living conditions, weak education systems, civil unrest, and corruption. Humanitarian aid organizations are complex entities that involve the work of governments, NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
Think Tanks – Think tanks and research organizations focus on foreign policy and international issues. These non-partisan organizations employ approaches to finding long-term solutions to policy-related issues. Many times, contracts from private businesses, foundations, government, and endowments support these think tanks, which also produce major publications and organize professional lectures, conferences, and policy forums.
Other Jobs Related to International Relations
There are a number of cross-disciplinary fields within international relations:
International law deals with cross-border issues such as international business and human rights. Professionals in international law may focus their careers on:
- Public international law (policymaking and international agreements performed by governments and intergovernmental organizations)
- Private international law for private organizations and nonprofits
Professionals in international security work in every sector: government, private, and nonprofit. Although the government remains a major employer of international security professionals, think tanks, defense contractors, and NGOs also employ these security specialists. Their work often includes producing reports and forecasts used by political, military, and government leaders in decision-making.
Public relations specialists in international relations work to build, maintain, and promote the reputation of individuals, organizations, issues, and events. These professionals also work to improve relations between their clients and the public. Amnesty International is one such organization to utilize the services of public relations specialists.
International relations is a diverse degree which allows you to investigate the complexities of relationships between different countries and apply this understanding to the world of work
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Civil Service fast streamer
- Diplomatic service officer
- Government social research officer
- Intelligence analyst
- International aid/development worker
- Policy officer
- Political risk analyst
- Public affairs consultant
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Armed Forces operational officer
- Border Force officer
- Broadcast journalist
- External auditor
- Higher education lecturer
- Risk manager
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don’t restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Where Do International Relations Majors Work?
International relations majors, in addition to graduating with an in-depth knowledge of world affairs, politics, economics, culture, geography, history, and language, also leave school with several valuable soft skills. They include listening, speaking, critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills. This strong foundation will qualify you to work both in the corporate and non-profit sectors. International relations majors go on to have careers in government, law, politics, business, education, media, and international affairs.
What Jobs Can You Get with International Degree
Here are several job titles for which you may qualify after you graduate:
- CIA Agent
- Foreign Affairs Analyst
- Foreign Affairs Specialist
- Foreign Service Officer
- Immigration Specialist
- Intelligence Specialist
- International Lawyer
- International Marketing Specialist
- Language Specialist
- Market Research Analyst
- News Anchor
- Non-Profit Program Coordinator
- Political Analyst
- Research Analyst
- United Nations Worker
How to Start a Career in International Relations
Generally, careers in international affairs exist across three sectors: public, private and non-profit/NGO. Governments, international organizations, multinational companies, development consulting firms, NGOs, and think tanks are typical employers in the international relations arena. Here are some tips to help those on the lookout for international relations careers.
1. Get a Masters in International Relations
A graduate degree is a prerequisite in the sphere of international affairs. Recruiters expect their new hires to have not only cross-cultural experience but also cross-disciplinary skills. Among different graduate programs, a Master’s in International Relations would be the most relevant, helping give students both the skills and experience necessary.
A master’s in international relations will enable you to pursue a wide range of international relations careers due to the multidisciplinary nature of the programme. It not only allows students to gain expertise across a wide set of disciplines, including languages, humanities, economics, politics, and business, among others, but also to gain transferable professional skills, including writing, quantitative and qualitative analysis, planning and organisation, and cross-cultural awareness. Joint degrees in business or law can also serve you well in such positions.
Along with the soft and hard skills developed on a master’s program, you will also be able to draw upon your undergraduate major, your previous field experience, and personal interests in a specific functional topic in order to develop expertise which will serve you well in the international affairs arena.
2. Do some international relations career research
Due to the differing focuses and specializations of international relations programs offered by universities, it is necessary to do in-depth research before sending out an application. Career research needs to be done even earlier than program research, as choosing a program that resonates with your interests and career goals should form a crucial part of your career strategy. This will almost certainly accelerate your professional development.
When it comes to career research, you need to understand the different characteristics of careers in all three sectors. Organizations in the public (government) sector may always be of a bureaucratic nature, but by landing a job there you can get the chance to be involved with important international projects. There is greater flexibility in the non-profit sector and a comparatively casual professional environment. You will have a more ‘hands-on’ opportunities, but salary levels are often lower than the other two sectors. Both the private and non-profit sectors are hard to define precisely, given the huge variety of causes and industries which are encompassed within these broad categories.
One useful resource for conducting program research into international relations careers would be the website of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA.org).
3. Find international relations internships
If you are a first time job seeker in the international affairs sector or a career switcher, then international relations internships or volunteering work with an organization could be a good place to start. Internships offer several advantages: you can get insights into and an understanding of a particular career field, form a network for your future job search, raise your visibility, and get access to unadvertised job opportunities. Organizations like the UN, the European Union, international NGOs, and multinational corporations all have annual internship programs for graduate students or recent graduates.
International relations students often have the opportunity to expand their international and professional experience by choosing to do a 3-6 month internship during the program.
Due to the very wide choice of international relations careers, the IE Career Management Center informs students of internship opportunities at private-sector, public sector, and non-profit organizations throughout the year.
One example of this is an internship program run in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain. Students have an option to take part in an internship with Spanish embassies and consulates all around the world; for each year there are nearly 300 positions available. EMZINGO Group, an innovative company devoted to social consulting projects in emerging markets, also recruits international relations students for their fellowship program in Africa and Latin America.
4. Gain international experience and learn a foreign language
In addition to technical skills, recruiters in the international relations arena look at candidates’ international experience, cross-cultural awareness and language skills. A proven ability to work well in cross-cultural teams, evidence of an international mind-set, field experience in developing countries, and fluency in a foreign language will definitely help you in your search for international relations careers.
5. Use your business networking skills
One of the best platforms to apply your business networking skills would be relevant events or conferences. Websites like Idealist.org, amd Devex consistently post events on their websites. Devex also organize their own professional gatherings in several cities in the world and two career fairs a year.
If you decide to pursue a Masters in International Relations, then remember to network with your professors; the best practitioners in the sector who can help you land your first job and send you along your way to your perfect international relations career.
How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major
High school students who are thinking about studying international relations in college, should take classes in U.S. history, world history, government and politics, and geography. It is also essential to learn at least one world language.
What Else You Need to Know
- Other names for this major are international studies and international affairs.
- Admission requirements for master’s degree programs vary. Candidates need a bachelor’s degree, but it can be in any subject. Applicants must have completed some coursework in economics.
- Doctoral programs, which are research-oriented, usually only admit candidates who have already earned a master’s degree in international relations.
- To become a more marketable job candidate after you graduate, consider studying abroad and becoming fluent in at least one language other than your native one. Internships are also invaluable.
- To earn a doctorate, expect to spend at least five years studying full time. You will also have to prepare a dissertation, a written document that summarizes your research. It could take a few years to complete.
- American Foreign Service Association: This site provides resources to help you learn about careers in the Foreign Service.
- The Peace Corps: Get the facts on becoming a Peace Corps volunteer and apply online.
- U.S. State Department Career Opportunities: Find out about career opportunities with the State Department.
It’s important to get relevant work experience to complement your degree. Volunteering can be a useful way of developing experience either in the UK or overseas.
Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the United Nations and the European Union, offer volunteering opportunities, internships and traineeships. The UN also offers a Young Professionals Programme for graduates wanting to start a career as an international civil servant.
Languages are key for a number of roles, so gaining work experience abroad, or other experience that allows you to develop language skills, can be of great benefit.
Working for a charity or non-governmental organisation (NGO) is another popular area of work and these can be good areas for volunteering or paid work experience.
If you’re interested in using your degree to work in the media, try writing for your university newspaper, blogging or writing for an online publication. For careers in other areas, such as teaching, business or law, you’ll also need relevant experience.
Related case studies
- Nuur Mohamud SheekhSenior political affairs officer
- Fatima SatorCommunication specialist
- Jack MablyCivil servant
International relations graduates can work in a wide range of career areas in the commercial, public and charity sectors. Typical employers include:
- IGOs, such as the UN, UNICEF and The World Bank
- NGOs, such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
- local and national government
- media companies
- law firms
- international businesses.
If you want to use your degree directly, consider roles with government departments such as the Department for International Trade and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Employers hiring international relations graduates now
Skills for your CV
A degree in international relations enables you to develop an awareness of states and organsiations and how they connect in the world.
You also gain skills in:
- communicating effectively and fluently, both verbally and in writing, including an ability to translate complex ideas to a wide audience
- gathering, organising and presenting information and data from a variety of sources
- critically analysing information in order to form an argument and find possible solutions to problems or issues
- developing intercultural and global awareness, which is of value in a global job market
- working with others to achieve common goals through group work, group projects and group presentations
- time management and independent study skills, as well as an ability to reflect on your learning, and ethical considerations when using and presenting information
- using technology to research and present information and data.
Some graduates choose to study for further qualifications such as a Masters degree, PhD or vocational postgraduate course. A Masters course in international relations is an option, but you could also specialise in areas such as security studies, diplomacy or global governance. Alternatively you can focus on a specific geographical area, such as Europe, the Middle East or Asia.
Having developed a global outlook in your undergraduate studies, you can consider a Masters in international development, law or business. Cyber security is another option if you’re interested in technology, as this area is becoming more important in international relations.
It’s also possible to take more vocational routes into industries such as teaching, journalism or human resources, or you could do a conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law.
Careers to inspire you to apply for an International Relations degree
Pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations will provide you with great insights into foreign affairs, public policies, international development, economic trends, social issues, law and many more. But what are your International Relations career options? Popular International Relations degree jobs include: diplomacy work, lobbying, political analysis, international law and intelligence.
1. Diplomat – Maintaining good relations between countries
As a diplomat, you will represent and protect a nation’s interests abroad in terms of politics, trade and consular services. You’ll spend usually around three years in a foreign country. Some of your responsibilities will be:
- Act as a link between the country you represent and the country where you are stationed
- Collect and report on all the information that would affect your nation’s interests
- Discuss, negotiate and mediate with the local government issues about peace and war, trade, commerce, economics, as well as social and cultural aspects
2. Intelligence Specialist – Gathering state-critical information
As an intelligence specialist, you can work in the military, the navy, national security departments, or almost any state department of one of the national government agencies. Your main duties will include:
- Collect and analyse operational intelligence data
- Conduct mission reports, using data, maps and charts
- Evaluate results and prepare reports, statistics and graphics
- Maintain intelligence databases, libraries, and files
3. Political Analyst – Explaining the political climate
Generally, you’ll be employed by the government, but you can also find work opportunities within media companies or research institutes. Your tasks will be to:
- Inform about and interpret various political developments
- Analyse laws, public policies, and government decisions
- Advise government officials, political parties, or the media
- Forecast political trends and election results
- Put events into historical context
4. Lobbyist – Promoting ideas to those who can make them a reality
Lobbyists are usually hired by an association, corporation, or non-profit organisation to convince government members to make a decision that would benefit the organisation or company they are representing.
As a lobbyist you will perform tasks like:
- Monitor, research and analyse legislation
- Attend congressional hearings
- Reach out to government policymakers
- Use communication tools to promote ideas to the public
5. Communication Specialist in a non-profit
A degree in International Relations can land you a job in a non-profit organisation that operates on an international level. As a Communications Specialist, you’ll have the chance to develop your career in a local office that has a global reach. Non-profit agencies like World Vision and Red Cross provide such global service, but there are many other options, too. Your main duties will be:
- Creating effective communication strategies
- Handling internal communications
- Writing content for media and social networks
Graduates of International Relations degrees can pursue even more careers in the field. Discover them for yourself by diving into the wide range of Masters all over the world connected to this popular subject.
Average International Relations jobs salary
Being passionate about your job and doing something that’s meaningful to you and beneficial to the society is great. Still, at the end of the month, you’ll have to pay bills, buy food, and spoil yourself a bit. For this, you’ll need money. Let’s look at the average salaries in the US for popular International Relations career paths.
- Diplomat – 87,000 USD/year
- Intelligence Specialist – 75,500 USD/year
- Political Analyst – 94,000 USD/year
- Lobbyist – 87,500 USD/year
- Communication Specialist – 55,000 USD/year
To have a successful career in one of these fields, make sure that during your studies you develop the right skills, such as learning at least two foreign languages, level-up your communication skills, persuasion and negotiation abilities, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
Why study international relations? What kind of careers can you get?
Graduates armed with an International Relations degree generally find employment in any or all of the three major sectors – public, private or non-governmental organisations (NGOS) or Not for Profit organisations. It’s a degree that allows people weave their way in and out of any, or all, of these sectors at various points in their careers. That’s because it’s not only a versatile degree with a unique skill set but it’s also a degree high in demand right now in this hyper-connected, globalised world.
International Relations is of the field of political science so studies range from among relationships between countries, the roles of sovereign states and inter-governmental organisations, international and other non-governmental organisations as well as multinational corporations.
As the broad field covers issues from globalisation to diplomatic relations, state sovereignty, international security, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, global finance right down to terrorism, organised crime, human security, foreign interventionism to human rights, International Relations students gain a deep understanding of key topical issues in the contemporary international world.
International Relations graduates who have gained knowledge in this exciting field which crosses a wide set of disciplines gain highly transferable professional skills such as writing, researching quantitative and qualitative data as well as planning and organising projects in the course of their studies. See MIUC: https://www.miuc.org/academic/undergraduate/ba-international-relations/
Adding a degree programme language of English to a Spanish-speaking setting such as at MIUC – and with various other language courses on offer (French, Arabic, Russian etc) – these increase the multilingual treasure trove of the student’s native tongue. In International Relations fields polyglots with combinations of both major and minor world languages are like gold dust. The cultural and networking skills acquired from studying in such a rich educational milieu inextricably adds vital soft skills to academic hard skills that aid long-term career progression.
What jobs can you get with International Relations Degree:
1. Top-level Civil Servants
Every country has its own civil service structure and graduates with International Relations degrees can enter their national service at a suitable grade and apply their talents on their home stage in key departments that aid the country’s administration. Their International Relations degree will help them work with the various players vying to lobby for their sector from the national government’s policymaking decision-makers.
2. Political Affairs Officer
Some of the most prestigious international roles on the list has to be obtaining a position at the United Nations working for the department of Political Affairs. Political Affairs Officers are dedicated to helping nations resolve conflicts peacefully and avoid war and human suffering. Officers mastermind and promote peaceful political solutions to conflict and encourage diplomacy between nations.
3. Diplomats in national Foreign Service
Most diplomats join their foreign service at an appropriate career level until they are promoted to represent their country at one of its embassies or consulates in any part of the globe from the Americas to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe or Australia/Oceania. Their International Relations education helps as they protect and defend their government’s policies while promoting friendly bilateral relations.
4. International Banking Officers
Whether as an international banker, an investment or corporate financier or any other role advising corporate or governmental clients on the raising of capital, the changing of financial structures, mergers and acquisitions or developing financial strategies there are a variety of interesting roles for graduates in the banking world. These roles are some of the highest-ranking positions that can be gained by International Relations graduates. This field can lead to working for global establishments such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.
5. Risk Analysts
The job of a risk analyst is varied and interesting. Analysts research, report and analyse data and information regarding any potential risk threatening the assets, earning capacity or success of organisations in the industrial, commercial or public sector. Work as an analyst can lead to overseas travel opportunities as they are often expected to research different cultures and customs.
6. Marketing Managers
Marketing and Communications roles in a globalised business world can mean overseeing the marketing plan for a product from the research and development phase through a launch and onto maintaining market share, including promotions, public relations and advertising functions in a globalised workforce. Marketing roles are still some of the world’s most highly paid functions in organisations and rely on creative and versatile people at the top.
7. International Military Affairs
International Relations students can find challenging roles by joining their armed forces as an International Affairs officer. A military career offers graduates the chance to play a significant role in the execution of their national foreign policy. In most countries careers in the relevant armed forces offer structured career paths allowing for growth and progression. These can also lead to international postings and roles as governmental or international organisations advisors.
Economists are employed by any number of businesses and all kinds of organisations to predict trends in an unpredictable business world and to articulate and advocate the organisation’s updated economic policies where necessary. There are quite a lot of job openings for newly qualified graduates in economic posts as national and international bodies move to an evidence-based system of defining and implementing work priorities.
9. Research Consultants
Consultants conduct specialised investigations or studies, write reports based on their findings, present quantitative and qualitative outcomes and making recommendations based on their area of expertise. There are a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and independent voluntary sector organisations with international affair roles that have openings for research consultants with International Relations degrees and flair.
10. Journalists, Public Relations or Media Consultants
You can work for an NGO, a national government press office or a multilateral organisation. Graduates in International Relations with their wide knowledge of the links between local, national and international structures as well as of the mechanisms of global governance often opt for roles as specialised journalists in major news organisations or media and communications commentators and public relations experts in high-level roles.
HOW TO GET A JOB WITH AN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEGREE
Congratulations on your degree in International Relations, the bold and determined study of the relationships between political entities and the wider world-systems produced by their interaction — also known as International Relations.
Your studies taught you how to use humanistic perspectives and scientific skills to examine the countries and regions of the world as well as IGOs, NGOs, MNCs, INs and all of the other acronyms for entities — and you picked up writing, communication, analytical, and data skills along the way.
That’s, you know, pretty good — the better news is that hiring managers know that too: thirty percent of employers in a Millennial Branding survey said they were seeking liberal arts majors, just short of the 34 percent who said they wanted oft-touted engineering and computer information systems majors.
Which is great, but now your cap is tossed and you realize that this was all the easy part, the calm before the storm that is the post-graduate job market.
Well, that’s where we come in. We literally created a career map just for International Relations Majors such as yourself — to aid your navigation of the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone — it’s pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who can’t put a good book down, keep reading.
We’ll give you the rundown on:
- What skills you’ll need
- How to begin
- What jobs you can expect to find as International Relations Major
- Some quick interview tips
- Consider graduate school
- External resources
And now to start where many of the campaigns stories do — at the beginning.
1. SKILLS FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS MAJORS
A International Relations degree develops new perspectives for approaching the world, and equally important is the ability to articulate values and alternatives — to persuade others to share a common vision.
In this interconnected world, being able to communicate ideas clearly and powerfully is vital to success — particularly and ability to explain theoretical and practical approaches to political and government functions
Applying these skills to real world learning opportunities yields a more robust and balanced career. Here are some of the common skills that you should have when trying to get a job with International Relations degree.
Analytical skills. Political scientists often use qualitative and quantitative research methods. You rely on analytical skills to collect, evaluate, and interpret data — often collaborating with other researchers when gathering information and opinions through a variety of means and synthesize the findings into a coherent and persuasive argument
Critical-thinking skills and intellectual curiosity. Political scientists must be able to examine and process available information and draw logical conclusions from their findings. You continually explore new ideas and information and stay current on political subjects and come up with new ways to think about and address issues.
Interpersonal communication and writing skills. A little different than outright public speaking, interpersonal skills combines an understanding of how you and the information you’re expressing is being interpreted by those around you with a little thing called empathy.
Being intuitive about how another person is going to accept or interpret the things that you say to them is something that may come natural to many folks, but it’s also a skill that can be learned through International Relations courses. Learning how to effectively encounter criticism and opposing views is an increasingly valuable talent.
2. WHERE TO BEGIN YOUR CAREER AFTER GETTING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEGREE
Your adaptable skills as a International Relations Major’s makes you suitable for almost every field, so it’s up to you to narrow your focus.
And if you aren’t fortunate enough to network your way into a position, it might be worth taking a look at what sort of internships you might be qualified for, even if you’ve already graduated.
A good internship can potentially lead directly to a position, and even if it doesn’t it gives you an undeniable edge — a Millennial Branding survey shows that 91% of employers think that students should have between one and two internships before graduating.
Here are some common types of internships for International Relations Majors:
- Editorial Internships
- Marketing Internships
- Public Relations Internships
If your goal is to intern for a politician, your best bet is to apply directly through the local office’s website — good luck with finding a paid one. If you’re looking for something a little higher on the totem pole, try the House of Representatives Employment Bulletin and the Senate Employment Bulletin.
Before you settle on an internship, though, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Where (in the state/the country/the world) do you want to work?
- What size and type of organization do you want to work for?
- Do you need compensation in an internship, or might you be able to consider alternative compensation (experience, work samples, references, networking, etc.)
- Is relocation an option?
An internship will provide you with an understanding of the skills that a career in your field requires — and with all of the options you have available, the opportunity to learn what it is that you don’t want to do in your is invaluable.
3. AVAILABLE JOBS FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS MAJORS
With a strong foundation in the liberal arts, International Relations majors are suited for a variety of careers: campaigns, public policy, business, government administration, non-profit organizations, and even journalism.
But remember that college isn’t job training. You’ve learned to read, write, and analyze information more deeply than other students, and your abilities are applicable to most positions — but you need to narrow the focus.
Employ those skills to analyze employer needs and present an argument for why you are the best person for the job. You did this throughout your education, and as a International Relations major, it is your responsibility to sell yourself to a potential employer.
With our career map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.).
But here, we wanted to call out some of the common jobs for recent International Relations grads. Here are some of the most interesting entry-level jobs for recent International Relations grads:
Marketing coordinators can have many different responsibilities, from maintaining marketing calendars or customer databases to developing ideas and engaging in research themselves.
In general, though, marketing coordinators tend to in some way be responsible for interpreting information or data for the benefit of other employees and understanding the systems — something your degree has prepared you for.
A sales associate is responsible for the exchange of a product or commodity for a price. Sales associates are typically selling the goods or services, and are measured with the amount of revenue or sales in a given period of time.
In general, though, people successful in sales tend to be capable of influencing others, speaking well to groups, conveying difficult information, and establishing/maintaining diverse personal relationships — all of these things can be found on a successful teacher’s resume, as well.
International Relations majors are experts in public relations, and tend to have a lot of responsibility when it comes to managing a company’s public image. You’re aware of the ways in which opinions are formed and the role of the media as you research current events during your studies.
Entry-level workers usually start off maintaining company files, going through media articles, and compiling information, while higher level employees help to develop strategies for all of a corporation’s communication (both external and internal).
WHAT ABOUT A CAREER IN POLITICS?
Majoring in International Relations can qualify you for many different careers in private for-profit and nonprofit organizations, as well as public sector organizations.
This is another opportunity to remind you that your degree is an education, not job training. If you’d like to work in politics,then you’ll need to make those opportunities happen.
Students often pursue careers in business, law, consulting, state, local, and federal government, journalism and communications, international organization, finance, polling and campaign management, community service and non-governmental organizations.
Here are a few options for you that are geared more towards the political side, letting you make use of that major.
- Campaign Coordinator
- Political Organizer
- Political Researcher
4. SOME QUICK JOB SEARCH TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS MAJORS
These are the most important words you’re going to hear: never stop hustling.
Chase opportunities that excite you. Follow what piques your curiosity. Start a blog.The path from point A to point B will never be cut clearly for you — but unlike the narrower majors, you can fit into anything if you just keep working.
Be creative with how you approach job listings
There are many more positions available that demand your writing and analytical abilities, but the ones that read “International Relations Major Wanted” are limited — so you have to be creative when applying your degree to them in interviews.
Think of it as a prescreening test. If you can convince potential employers to hire you even if you weren’t initially what they had in mind, then you’ve already done an excellent job: show them that they want people who can communicate — they just may not know it.
This is where your composition talents are not just a marketable job skill, but one that will help you land your cover letter and resume on the desk of the right person. Research the company and tailor your job seeking collateral materials for the application as if it was an assignment.
Network, network, and network
The best thing you can do to get a job in International Relations is and with the degree is, plain and simple, to know somebody who knows somebody — this can be from internships, courses, or a professional organization on campus.
Reach out to the people you know from college, students or not. If enough time has passed, that classmate you friended on Facebook for one group project three years ago might be your in for a job that just opened.
On a similar note, professors are not only good first references for your resume, but they’ve also been around students and the professional and academic political world long enough that they might have some good recommendations for you as far as where to look.
Join a good professional organization and take advantage of every resource at their disposal. And wherever possible, just talk to people, and be friendly. You’d be surprised at how far a little relationship goes — then again, considering the nature of the major, maybe it’s not such a shock.
5. CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATIONS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Unlike certain other fields, there’s no real licensure you need in order to write or practice International Relations in some other sense — typically, you benefit best from getting some experience.
Typically, International Relations advanced degrees come in two programs — a freestanding program leading to the Master of Arts degree in International Relations and a program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations, which is usually finished in around seven years.
Pursuing an advanced degree
Having a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations is obviously a great first step regardless of what sort of career you might be considering, but once you’ve finished that, another question remains: should you go onto further studies?
We did a little research, and while the Master’s might be useful to you, you’ll want to think long and hard about whether a Ph.D is for you and your chosen career.
Here are common advanced degrees that people with International Relations degree normally consider:
Master’s in International Relations
If you’re looking to increase your knowledge in a particular aspect of International Relations or improve your research skills (always a useful thing to have), then a Master’s might be supremely useful to you.
If you’re looking more to increase your earning potential, a Master’s can help do that for you too, but you want to be aware of the hefty price tag that might be associated with it. Figure out how long you’ll be willing to pay off the debt and compared to how much earnings you can anticipate from it first.
If you can get the Master’s without breaking the bank, then go for it, but otherwise it might be worth it to focus on getting more job experience and building your portfolio.
PhD in International Relations
The PhD provides advanced study and research opportunities primarily for students who intend to pursue careers in research, scholarship, teaching, and public life. Expect a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and not much recognition for how long and difficult your eventual book is to read.
But if you’re interested nonetheless, here are some tips to get started on as soon as possible — as in, during undergrad.
- Read actual political science and international relations rsearch
- Learn a language and study overseas
- Write a senior thesis
- Get comfortable with math for the research
- Apply for and win something like an NSF
Depending on when you get started on these, you may or may not have time to finish them all. That’s fine, what’s important is that you get started and develop an understanding what the academic field will be like.
6. EXTERNAL RESOURCES
If you’re still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:
American Political Science Association
Go to APSA conferences when you’re on the job market and when you’re senior enough to be able to just hang out with your friends. Otherwise, it’s too big and there’s not enough good work there.
The House of Representatives Employment Bulletin
Full listing of all open positions, including internships, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Open positions in committees are also included in the bulletin.
The Senate Employment Bulletin
Full list of all open positions open positions, including internships, in the U.S. Senate. Open positions in committees are also included in the bulletin.
Enter “International Relations” into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to International Relations majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.
The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.
In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
And if this all seems like a lot – don’t worry – the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.