FAQ: Is International Relations a Good Major?

International relations is a good major for students interested in learning about important issues on a global scale. Demand for people with this degree continues to grow, especially as the world experiences unprecedented changes and events.

I still clearly recall the strange sensation I experienced after selecting international relations as my major on the Common Application and pressing the submit button. Although I had no idea what I was even agreeing to, it almost felt like I was signing away my life. International relations has grown in popularity and demand as a major in recent years. It draws an unusual mix of students with various academic backgrounds and interests, from well-traveled international students with a talent for languages to aspirant U S. ambassadors who have never left their home state. However, many college freshmen who proudly declare that they are IR majors will give you blank looks when you ask them what international relations actually entails. I want to assist any aspiring international relations majors out there to better understand the field with its mystifying allure after spending three years figuring out exactly what it is that I signed up for on that fateful day during my senior year of high school. Get Set to Read Let’s start with a reality check of what studying international relations actually entails before you start dreaming of a glamorous life spent traveling in business class to UN conventions around the world (which may very well be your ultimate future). You read…a lot. I mean, a lot. Of course, any humanities major will tell you that their field is almost entirely comprised of reading and writing, whether they are studying history, literature, or sociology. But it’s important to realize how much of the next four years of your life will revolve around a never-ending stream of reading assignments. As a junior in college, I had three to four classes and 400-600 assigned pages of reading each week. Even a voracious reader used to plowing through several 300-page novels each week will initially be intimidated by the wall of dense academic text filled with difficult-to-understand terminology. I’m not trying to stop you from pursuing your interests in any way, but it’s important to enter any field of study prepared and aware of what the work entails. Also, don’t forget to tell your STEM-focused friends that studying international relations does not just involve reading the news all the time. Additionally, it’s likely that you’ll study a foreign language (or two!) as part of your course work. This field will prepare you for careers that will require extensive interactions with people from other countries, as the international part of international relations denotes. The best way to fully comprehend and respect any other culture is to invest the time necessary to learn the language or languages used to communicate there. What’s even more exciting is that your college will probably give you access to a much wider variety of languages than you had in high school (Spanish or French, anyone?) You can choose any common or uncommon language you like as an international relations major, giving you a truly immersive linguistic experience. Find out your chances at hundreds of schools using our free matching tool. It considers your background, test results, extracurricular activities, and history to determine your actual chances of admission—and how to increase them. If you’re like me, one of the main benefits of choosing this field of study in your eyes may be the hope that you can pretty much forget about science, math, and all those pesky formulas that never made sense in high school. Calculate Your Chances for Free Unfortunately, Math is Unavoidable. In fact, I used to always say, “I’ll never have to do math again!” when people asked what I would be studying in college. First and foremost, any well-structured program in international relations will require you to acquire some fundamental knowledge of economics. Unfortunately for those who struggle with math, economics is an important aspect of politics that involves a lot of graphs and numbers. Therefore, get ready to create more flashcards with illogical formulas on them. Additionally, and for good reason, a growing number of programs are starting to incorporate computer science and other technology-focused coursework into their international relations curricula as technological innovation and cybersecurity become more crucial issues on the international stage. Diverse Student Body College is usually a place to meet new people who come from different backgrounds than you and to embrace alternative worldviews, so if you can’t run away from math, try to embrace it – at least the parts of it that tie into what you really want to be studying, which are interactions between countries! Of course, there are a lot of international students studying in the United States in every field imaginable. S. However, if you are majoring in international relations, be prepared to interact with many foreign students who will push your worldview to a whole new level. If you attended a public school on the continental United States, it’s likely that you haven’t interacted with many people who are native to other countries. You will quickly become aware of how different opinions on various contentious issues can be as you engage in debates about them in your courses. You will also learn that what you assumed other cultures believed may be completely at odds with reality. Therefore, be ready to spend four years learning about various cultures, beliefs, and social systems (and to practice whatever foreign language you’ll be learning as part of your coursework). You Can’t Really Intern at the UN Not While You’re an Undergraduate Student Well, not while you’re a student anyway. Many high school students enter the field of international relations with little knowledge of how to actually use their knowledge in the workplace. Undoubtedly, when I first decided to pursue IR, I was picturing myself entering the General Assembly in four years with a sense of ownership. More generally, as you consider the potential career paths an IR degree will afford you (and try to explain the degree’s utility to your parents), you should be open to many different, unexpected possibilities. In fact, you can’t even intern at the UN until you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree. Like any other major, it can be challenging for someone outside the field to comprehend all the opportunities that are available. You will have a wide range of career options in international relations, including public relations, consulting, and research. Hopefully, the four years you spend studying the subject will point you in the direction that you find most interesting. In actuality, this major’s interdisciplinary approach and flexibility make it beautiful. There is so much more to international relations than schmoozing with diplomats and debating UN resolutions, though you’ll certainly get a taste of the aforementioned activities as well. Soon, you’ll have so many cool options, you won’t know which to choose. Be prepared to face challenges, be intellectually stimulated, and be confronted with new ideas as you get ready to enter the fascinating and bizarre world of college. Every major, including engineering, visual arts, and international relations, goes far beyond the nebulous stereotypes that are prevalent outside of each discipline. Enjoy and keep an open mind! Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free matching engine calculates your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. by considering your GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and other data. S. We’ll also tell you how you compare to other candidates and how to make improvements to your profile. Create a free CollegeVine account right away to get going!

Is Studying International Relations Worth It?

Is international relations a good major?

A good major for students who want to learn about crucial global issues is international relations. Demand for those with this degree is only going to increase, given the unprecedented changes and events taking place in the world. This major gives you the ability to adapt to a variety of career paths and provides you with unique insights.

You might do well in international relations if you:

Only some of those qualities may apply to you since there is no set path for international relations majors. For instance, some people decide to study international relations because they want to work as diplomats and mediate between different nations. Others might select this major in order to work for a charity supporting a cause they’re passionate about.

What is international relations?

The study of global systems and their interactions is known as international relations. This program of study examines the role of global development in politics, history, sociology, and other fields. It explores the relationship between a number of world problems, including:

On a global scale, international relations assesses business, law, and economics. It takes into account history and how it affects contemporary society in general. Work in international relations is available in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, though it frequently has political overtones.

Despite their similarities, political science and international relations are two separate programs. The only part of international relations that political science focuses on is government relations. However, there are similar names for this area of study. Other names for international relations include:

What types of classes are required?

The specific requirements for international relations vary for each school. Many schools use an interdisciplinary strategy and offer a variety of classes. This gives students a deeper understanding of the material and aids in the development of a more well-rounded viewpoint.

You might need to take courses in the following areas to earn your degree if you plan to major in international relations:

To better prepare for your desired career path, you may focus on a particular area of international relations as your academic career progresses. For instance, if you want to work in international business, you could take more economics courses. You could enroll in more history or anthropology classes if you want to work in a museum.

What are good double majors or minors to pair with an international relations degree?

To specialize in one area of study or to narrow your focus, you might decide to pursue a minor or a double major. As a broad major, international relations, this could help you hone your skills and get ready for the workforce. Consider these majors or minors to complement a degree in international relations:

If you decide to learn a foreign language, think about picking one of the six UN official languages. English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Arabic are among them.

Is a master’s in international relations worth it?

A master’s degree in international relations can be advantageous because it enables you to deepen your knowledge in a particular area of study. Additionally, it might broaden your employment options or establish you as a more qualified applicant. For instance, having a master’s degree could help you if you want to work in the political field as a political analyst.

Internships and research fellowships are commonplace within international relations. Before obtaining the research or full-time position they want, many people frequently complete several internships. You may find that enrolling in a graduate program will help you land the job you want because you will have more opportunities to network with professors and utilize resources for career development.

What can you do with an international relations degree?

Obtaining a degree in international relations equips you with a versatile skill set that you can use in a variety of contexts. You could use your degree, for instance, to influence public policy, meet with world leaders, work in a museum, assist people with immigration procedures, and more.

With an education in international relations, you could work in the following areas:

What are examples of jobs in international relations?

The following are some specific careers you can pursue with a degree in international relations. Click on the national average salary link for each job title below to access the most recent salary data from Indeed.

Journalists’ main responsibilities are to conduct research, speak with sources, and write stories about current events. Some journalists also tell stories with audio or visual media. These individuals frequently travel and go to conferences for business or for research.

Intelligence analysts’ main responsibilities are to gather and analyze information in order to enhance security procedures. Monitoring for data breaches or risks, producing reports, and analyzing technology are some of their main responsibilities. Although they may be able to work in a variety of other public and private settings as well, they frequently work for the government.

Primary responsibilities: Public relations professionals serve as an organization’s face to build and maintain a powerful, positive reputation. To do this, you must frequently contact the media and write press releases. It may be part of a public affairs specialist’s job to lobby for support of particular laws or regulations with a focus on nonprofit or governmental interests.

Principal responsibilities: Professors at all levels of universities and colleges develop course curricula and instruct students. Their duties include delivering lectures, facilitating discussions, developing lesson plans, grading homework and tests, and working with students. While they teach, many professors continue to conduct research and work in their field.

Primary duties: An immigration specialist helps individuals emigrate. This entails submitting paperwork, requesting work permits, assisting with citizenship applications, assisting with adoptions, and offering legal advice. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of Justice both certify a lot of immigration specialists.

Primary duties: An archivist assesses, researches and appraises original documents. Photographs, videos, maps, and various paper documents, like manuscripts, may be among these records. Additionally, an archivist may update databases, catalog items, and work to increase public access to items.

Research analysts’ main responsibilities are to gather, research, analyze, interpret, prepare, and present data. Depending on the type of company an analyst works for, different types of data are used. Research analysts are in charge of reviewing previous outcomes, spotting trends, forecasting future trends, suggesting ways to improve operations, and making charts and graphs.

A diplomat’s main responsibilities include visiting various nations in order to forge strong ties between the nation they represent and the nation they are in. Diplomats may travel to countries with which their nation already has cordial relations or they may be in charge of managing and repairing strained ties. A diplomat must be flexible, possess conflict-resolution abilities, and have networking abilities.

A political analyst’s or political scientist’s main responsibilities are to conduct research, analyze laws, trends, and make predictions about how they will affect the government, the populace, and the economy. As part of this, data must be gathered and analyzed, political and current events must be followed, political theories and ideas must be evaluated, and research findings must be submitted. Strong research abilities are necessary for political analysts in order to foresee the potential effects of political changes.

A policy analyst’s main responsibilities include influencing public policy by increasing public awareness of social issues and developing solutions to the problems. They analyze political developments and public policy to recommend changes to existing laws. This entails creating reports that contain guidance on how to carry out procedures more successfully.

What are the benefits of getting an international relations degree?

The advantages of earning a degree in international relations include the following:

Develop important skills

You can apply the crucial soft skills you develop from studying international relations to any job. You can develop skills like:

Learn more about global issues

Human rights, climate change, poverty, and ethics are just a few of the global issues that international relations focuses on addressing. You will learn more about these issues in your studies and how to deal with them globally.

Find a career you enjoy in a growing field

As the world changes, there is an increasing need for people to work in international relations. This increases your opportunities to put your degree to use and identify your ideal niche. Look for a job that enables you to concentrate on your passions and make a real difference in the world.

Earn a degree in a broad field

There are many different types of jobs in the broad field of international relations. This degree can be used in a variety of contexts, including academia, politics, and nonprofits. You can try different things until you land the ideal job by earning a degree that you can apply in a variety of ways.


Is a degree in international relations worth it?

A degree in international relations can be useful for careers outside of the field. Even if you never leave the CONUS again, you will graduate with many transferable skills that can be useful in almost any industry. For example, you will graduate with at least one foreign language.

Is it hard to get a job in international relations?

With only a B, it is challenging to find many interesting “starting jobs” in international relations. A. degree. Many students discover that they must either pursue graduate study of some kind or gain practical work experience, or both.

What do international relation majors do?

Some students majoring in international relations look for positions in the U S. There are five different career paths available at the State Department: consular affairs, economic affairs, management affairs, political affairs, and public diplomacy.

What are the benefits of studying international relations?

Benefits of Studying International Relations
  • Versatility. Investigating the various components of the field of international relations is part of studying it.
  • Ability to apply lessons into real life. …
  • Transferable skills. …
  • Multiple career options. …
  • Have an impact on real issues. …
  • Diplomat. …
  • Intelligence Analyst. …
  • Policy Analyst.

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