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International Relations

“A strong reputation for power is important in international relations.”

About International Relations

International Relations (IR) is a field of study that examines the interactions and relationships between countries, governments, international organizations, and other global actors. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws on insights from political science, economics, history, sociology, and other social sciences to analyze the complex dynamics of global politics, diplomacy, conflict, cooperation, trade, and more. The central focus of international Relations is to understand and explain how nations and international actors interact with each other, both in times of peace and in times of crisis.

Why Study International Relations Abroad?

Studying international Relations abroad can offer numerous advantages. Firstly, it provides a unique opportunity to gain a global perspective on international issues. Being in an international environment exposes students to diverse perspectives and cultures, which is invaluable in a field where understanding different worldviews is crucial. Additionally, studying abroad often involves internships or practical experiences at international organizations, embassies, or NGOs, which can enhance one’s resume and provide real-world insights into the field. Furthermore, international exposure can help students build a global network of contacts, which can be immensely beneficial in their future careers in diplomacy, international business, or academia.

Courses in International Relations

International Relations programs typically offer a variety of courses covering a wide range of topics. While the specific courses may vary from one university to another, here are some common subjects you might encounter:

  • International Politics: This course covers the fundamental concepts and theories of international relations, such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism. 
  • International Law: Students learn about the legal framework governing relations between states, international treaties, and the role of international organizations like the United Nations. 
  • Diplomacy and Negotiation: This course explores the art and practice of diplomacy, including negotiation strategies and diplomatic history. 
  • Conflict and Peace Studies: Students study the causes of international conflicts, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding efforts. 
  • Global Political Economy: This course delves into the intersection of politics and economics on the global stage, examining trade, finance, and development. 
  • Security Studies: Students analyze security challenges, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and cybersecurity. 
  • Regional Studies: Courses may focus on specific regions, such as Middle East Politics, Asian Politics, or European Integration. 
  • International Organizations: This covers the structure, functions, and roles of international organizations like the United Nations, NATO, and the World Trade Organization. 
  • Foreign Policy Analysis: Students learn to analyze and understand the foreign policies of different countries.
  • Research Methods: This course equips students with the skills necessary for conducting research and analysis in international relations.

Top Universities in the World for International Relations

The choice of university is crucial when pursuing a degree in International Relations. Here are some of the top universities globally known for their excellence in this field:

  • Harvard University (USA): Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government offers a prestigious program in International Relations. 
  • Oxford University (UK): The University of Oxford is known for its rigorous international relations programs. 
  • Princeton University (USA): Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs offers top-notch courses. 
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (UK): LSE is a world leader in social sciences, including international Relations. 
  • Stanford University (USA): Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies is highly regarded. 
  • Georgetown University (USA): Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service is known for its focus on diplomacy and global affairs. 
  • University of Cambridge (UK): The University of Cambridge offers exceptional programs in International Relations. 
  • Yale University (USA): Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs provides a strong foundation in IR. 
  • University of California, Berkeley (USA): UC Berkeley’s political science department offers a diverse set of IR courses. 
  • Tufts University (USA): The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts is renowned for its international relations programs.

Qualifications and Skills for International Relations

To excel in the field of International Relations, you’ll need a combination of qualifications and skills:


  • Bachelor’s Degree: Many entry-level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in International Relations or a related field such as Political Science, Economics, or History. 
  • Master’s Degree: For more advanced positions and a competitive edge, consider pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations or a specialized area within it. 
  • Ph. D. (Optional): If you are interested in academia or high-level research positions, a Ph. D. may be necessary. 


  • Analytical Skills: The ability to critically analyze complex international issues and data is essential. 
  • Communication Skills: Effective writing and verbal communication are crucial for diplomats, policy analysts, and international business professionals. 
  • Research Skills: Strong research skills are needed to gather information and data from various sources. 
  • Cross-Cultural Competence: Understanding and appreciating different cultures and perspectives is vital in international interactions. 
  • Negotiation and Diplomacy: These skills are particularly important for diplomats and international negotiators. 
  • Foreign Language Proficiency: Depending on your career goals, proficiency in one or more foreign languages can be a significant advantage. 
  • Problem-Solving: International Relations professionals often deal with complex, real-world problems that require creative solutions.

Is International Relations a good choice for you?

Suppose you are passionate about understanding global affairs, enjoy analyzing complex issues, and have strong communication skills. In that case, International Relations can be a rewarding field for you. It offers opportunities for a career in diplomacy, international organizations, government, NGOs, journalism, and academia. Additionally, suppose you open to travelling, working in diverse environments, and making a positive impact on global issues. In that case, International Relations can be a fulfilling choice.

Study Options

When considering a degree in International Relations, you have several study options:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Start with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations or a related field. This typically takes three to four years to complete. 
  • Master’s Degree: After your bachelor’s, you can pursue a master’s degree in International Relations, which usually takes one to two years. 
  • Ph. D. Program: If you aspire to become an expert in the field or work in academia, consider a Ph. D. program, which can take several years to complete. 
  • Online Courses and Certificates: Many universities offer online courses and certificates in international Relations, allowing for flexibility in your studies. 
  • Study Abroad: Consider studying abroad to gain a global perspective and practical experience in international settings.

Career Pathways

International Relations graduates have a wide range of career opportunities, including:

  • Diplomacy: Working as a diplomat for your country’s foreign service, representing your nation’s interests abroad, and negotiating with other governments. 
  • International Organizations: Working for organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, or NATO in various capacities, including policy analysis, development, and peacekeeping. 
  • Government: Roles in government agencies, such as the State Department or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on foreign policy and international affairs. 
  • NGOs and Nonprofits: Contributing to international humanitarian and development efforts, advocacy, and human rights initiatives. 
  • Security and Intelligence: Jobs related to national security, counterterrorism, and intelligence analysis. 
  • International Business: Positions in multinational corporations, including international marketing, trade, and management. 
  • Media and Journalism: Reporting on international events, conflicts, and global politics for newspapers, TV, or online media. 
  • Academia: Teaching and conducting research at universities and colleges if you pursue a Ph. D. 

Average Pay

Salaries in International Relations can vary significantly depending on the specific career path and location. Here are some approximate salary ranges for different roles:

  • Diplomats: Diplomats may earn an average salary ranging from $50 000 to $150 000 or more per year, depending on their rank and experience. 
  • Policy Analysts: Professionals working in think tanks or government agencies can expect salaries in the range of $60 000 to $120 000 per year. 
  • NGO Workers: Salaries in non-governmental organizations can vary widely but often fall in the range of $40, 000 to $80, 000 per year. 
  • International Business: International business professionals may earn salaries ranging from $60 000 to $150 000 or more, depending on their role and the industry. 
  • Academics: Salary levels for academics depend on their academic rank and the institution. Assistant professors might earn around $60 000 to $80 000, while full professors can earn considerably more. 
  • Media and Journalism: Salaries in journalism vary widely but can range from $40 000 to $100 000 or more, depending on the organization and experience.
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