International Relations Major

What to Do With Your Degree

International relations majors can work in the United Nations
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About This Major

International relations involves the study of the global community. It looks at world societies and the interactions between them. Many schools offer an interdisciplinary approach to this major which includes the study of history, politics, economics, world languages and geography. Individuals may earn a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree (Ph.D.). Master's-level and Ph.D. programs are usually more specialized than bachelor's degree ones.

Like other liberal arts degrees, an international relations degree will not give you entry into a particular occupation. It will, instead, provide you with a broad knowledge base that you can use to excel in a variety of fields.

Sample of Courses in Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Programs

Bachelor's-Level Coursework

  • Politics in the United States
  • International Economics
  • International Politics: Methods of Analysis
  • Politics of Third World Nations
  • Global Security
  • Culture in the Age of Globalization
  • Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
  • World Geography
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Law
  • The Politics and Psychology of Persuasion and Prejudice
  • National Security Controversies
  • Causes of War
  • Money and Power in the International Political Economy
  • Global Justice
  • Sacred Objects: Religion, Violence and HIstory
  • Sex, Lies and Capitalism
  • Diplomacy Lab
  • Middle Eastern Political Systems
  • Modern Korean History
  • History of Germany
  • Globalization and International Development

Master's Degree Courses

  • Peacemaking and Negotiation
  • Human Rights in World Politics
  • Non-Government Organizations
  • Managing Non-Profit Organizations
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • International Relations: Theory and Practice
  • International Finance
  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Evolution of the International Systems
  • Good Governance

Doctoral Degree Courses

  • The Politics of Public Policy
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Challenges and Dilemmas in American Foreign Policy
  • Schools of Thought in International Relations
  • Seminar in Advanced Research Design
  • Comparative and Regional Studies
  • International and Area Studies
  • Failed States
  • Electoral Systems
  • International and Foreign Law Research
  • Globalization and Health

Where Do International Relations Majors Work?

In addition to in-depth knowledge of world affairs, economics, culture, history and language, you will have several valuable soft skills. They include communication, 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.

Some Job Titles

How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major

If you are a high school student who would like to major in this field in college, your transcript should include classes in U.S. history, world history, government and politics and geography. You should also study a world language.

What Else You Need to Know

  • This major is also called international studies and international affairs.
  • Admission requirements for master's degree programs vary but candidates are typically required to have a bachelor's degree. Your major isn't important, but you should have at least completed coursework in economics.
  • Doctoral programs, which are research-oriented, usually admit candidates who have already earned a master's degree in this field of study.
  • To become more marketable after graduation, international relations majors should consider studying abroad and becoming fluent in at least one language other than their native one.  Internships are also invaluable.
  • If you want to earn a Ph.D., expect to spend five years of full-time study in a doctoral program.
  • Ph.D. candidates must complete and defend a dissertation.

Employment Information

The following resources either give information on how to obtain a job overseas, or provide actual international job or internship listings.

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