International Relations and Affairs  Program Description


Insider Info

dotIf you've ever thought it would be cool to be an ambassador, or to work in a North American company's Asian or European headquarters, you might want to think about studying international relations.

International relations is most often offered by a school's political science department, but some universities have separate programs that focus exclusively on international relations.

Most programs are offered at the master's level, though students taking a bachelor's in political science can take classes in international politics. Students may also do a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business administration, economics or a foreign language, before applying to a master's program in international relations.

Expect to earn at least a master's degree to find employment in this field.

Students wanting to major in international relations should have communication skills, analytical thinking skills, problem-solving skills and an open mind.

Cynthia Alexander is the coordinator of a university political science graduate program. "Students shouldn't expect to learn 'the truth,'" she says. "In the humanities and social sciences, students are asked to appreciate multiple ways of knowing the world."

The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs is an association of 22 graduate schools of international affairs. According to its website, good international relations programs "integrate political science, economics, history, law and business, as well as comparative, regional and international studies."

In high school, take economics, communication, math, analytical thinking and psychology. Get involved in anything pertaining to leadership or anything that involves communication.

"Students should seek out extracurricular activities which strengthen their abilities to work with others, including people who won't share their beliefs or have the same degree of motivation and interest," says Alexander.

Many high schools and youth groups organize model United Nations activities. These are good experience.

Participating in work exchange programs, traveling to international countries for vacations and getting involved with international student organizations are great ways to increase your knowledge about other countries.

The biggest expense besides tuition is textbooks.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
Find more information related to this field of study

E-International Relations
Lots of articles, interviews, blogs and more on internatinal relations

Careers in Government
This site has lots of info on public sector organizations

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.