Careers in International Relations: Scopes, Top Universities, Jobs & Salaries

With the advent of globalization and increased intermingling of people and businesses, the world has not only become more closer but also has become more dependent on the policies and geopolitical situations around them. Relations between nations and different blocks of nations have become very vital for regional peace, stability, and business environment and its growth.

Since, the pace of globalization set in the need to manage international relations have become very important for all the world’s countries. Hence, the need to study International Relations has gained tremendous pace and lot of career options have emerged in this field of study.

In this blog we will try to find out more about the subject (International Relations) and career opportunities related to this stream of study.

International Relations as a field of study and its importance

In general, the study and practice related to international relations is truly interdisciplinary in nature. It comprises other study fields, such as economics, political science and history. Students studying in this field mostly examines topics that are related to globalization, security, global poverty, the environment, economics, human rights, political environment etc.

Researchers, experts and scholars of this field are one of the participants who assist their respective governments to form their foreign policies.

According to some experts in this field, the study and practice of this subject has huge valuable implication in today’s world. There are few important reasons for this:

  • Successful trade and business policies between nations are promoted by International relations.
  • International relations facilitate and allows governments of nations to cooperate with one another, accumulate or pool resources, and share vital and sometimes sensitive information related to global issues that go beyond the demarcation of a particular nation or region. Some of the present-day global issues include pandemics, terrorism, and the environment.
  • Apart from all these mentioned above International relations help in advancement of human culture through various means, such as cultural exchanges between people of different countries, diplomacy and policy development.

Best Universities in the World to study International Relations

Such is the importance of the subject in today’s global scenario that many of the world’s renowned universities have introduced numerous master’s and Ph.D. programs in International Relations. Let’s now find out the best Universities to study International Relations (IR) in the world.

As per QS University Rankings 2020, the top 10 Universities to study IR are as follows:

  1. Harvard University, US
  2. Princeton University, US
  3. Sciences Po, France
  4. University of Oxford, UK
  5. The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
  6. University of Cambridge, UK
  7. Stanford University, US
  8. The Australian National University, Australia
  9. Yale University, US
  10. University of California, Berkeley, US

Whereas, according to Time Higher Education Rankings 2020 the top 10 Universities for IR studies varies a little from the QS list but includes many of the top names. The list from Times are as follows:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US
  2. University of Oxford, UK
  3. Harvard University, US
  4. Stanford University, US
  5. University of Cambridge, UK
  6. Princeton University, US
  7. The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
  8. Yale University, US
  9. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, US
  10. University of Chicago, US

Most of the students who applies to get admissions in one of the master’s program in IR generally comes from arts and humanities background. Bachelor’s in political science, history and economics are the ones who mostly prefers a career in international relations. However, graduates from business background can (do) apply for IR programs as well. For an example, a unique program from Griffith University, Australia demands special mention. The Master of International Business, International Relations offered by the University of Griffith provides a unique opportunity for students studying international business to gain another diploma in international relations. The students can get two postgraduate awards at Masters level over a two year period.

Job opportunities for International Relations (IR) Graduates in the Public, Private and Nongovernmental Sectors

Most of the job opportunities that IR graduates generally get are from the Public sector. There are lots of government jobs available for IR graduates. For example, different central government departments like the Department of Treasury, Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of Home Affairs and Internal Security seek IR graduates to fill the job vacancies on offer.

Some of the known ranks and designations that IR graduates holds while working in the public sectors are as follows. The high-profile career includes:

  1. Foreign Policy Advisors– Advises on foreign policy topics
  2. Political Analysts– Helps the government by analyzing political scenarios and policies of foreign governments and entities.
  3. Diplomatic/Foreign Service Officers– These are trained officials involves in various diplomatic activities mainly in foreign countries.
  4. Foreign Affair Officers– The officers monitor and evaluate the effects of government in a multilateral organizational set up by analyzing various statements and documents of governments (mainly in the sphere of human rights).

Not only the Public sector, IR graduates are in high demand in private sectors as well. In the domain of International Business, IR graduates are offered various positions such as Management Consultants, Strategy Consultants, Risk Analysts, Journalists etc.

IR graduates also get great opportunities to work in the Nongovernmental Organizations. Some of the job profiles they hold are as follows:

Development Directors – They conduct fundraising campaigns for various humanitarian projects which goes consistent with the Organization’s regulations and policies.

Think Tanks – Think The main work for them are to focus on foreign policies and issues concerning the global scenario. They do research on many foreign nations, their policies and other international issues.

Program Managers – The managers manage all the operational aspects of a nonprofit’s program. The duties on the job varies from program to program, however, some general duties include handling the financial operations, managing the administration etc.

Some other job profile for IR graduates include: Grant writers, Director- Global Communication, Program Coordinators etc.

Average Salaries for IR graduates and Top Employers

The salary for an IR graduate can range from USD 35,000 USD to more than USD 100,000. However, the average salary ranges from $60,000 to $64,000.

Some of the world’s biggest employers of IR graduates are the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations (UN), NATO.


You might also like to read Top Study Abroad Options after B.Com (3-Year Degree) from India.


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