International Global Network

Finding your Career Path with a Degree in International Relations

Compared to its social sciences counterpart, the study of international relations is a reasonably new field. Having its roots originating from the realization of the catastrophic damages left by major world wars, scholars of social sciences have dedicated a field of study specifically for the prevention of war by regulating relations between states.

Undoubtedly, the field had undergone various changes over time as the dynamics of the world is constantly changing. Over time, international relations is not only limited to a network of states but also non-state actors such as multinational companies and organizations with specific causes.

Nowadays, the study of international relations encapsulates teachings from just about every other social sciences that had preceded it. Amongst the most prominent including sociology, psychology, geography, and law.

The nature of the field of international relations, allows multiple school of thoughts to coexist and complement one another where each is lacking making it particularly interesting for those with a critical judgment towards things.

The origin of the study having had roots in multiple branches also allow international relations study to a broad range of topics. The main issues the field concerns itself were at once security and economics but later branched out to culture and even ecology.

A degree in international relations would be particularly interesting for students having interest in following current issues from around the world. As students in the field, they will be required to analyze the issues from multiple perspective, finding pattern in past occurrence of similar nature.

Reading materials encompassing a broad range of field will be a daily necessity for the students. The ability to construct argument convincingly supported by real life examples are also an important trait the students need to possess.

With the rising of interest in global knowledge, a demand for education in international relations had become more prominent lately. The program is offered in universities all over the world with some of the most reputable schools for international relations include Harvard University, Oxford University, and Australian National University.

Additionally, to supplement their skills and knowledge in international relations students can participate in a range of activity such as Model United Nation and volunteering in international organizations. Many students also participate in exchange programs abroad to further enhance their knowledge and develop skills.

During the studies, students will normally be guided to specialize their studies. The option would normally be between security studies or economic studies.

International relations, unlike other studies do not offer a specialized skill as the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field does. However, students from international relations background are well-equipped with skills that translate well in a variety of workforce.

For example, critical thinking from observing issues from around the world is a strong point of those with a degree in international relations. They are able to draw conclusions by studying social phenomenon, as well as mapping and predicting future outcomes.

Additionally, having studied international relations have taught them the art of constructing arguments in a structured manner that is almost always guaranteed to be backed with the appropriate research. International relations also prepare their students with the fine art of diplomacy, being able to advocate their interests against the interests of others.

Lastly, those having earned a degree in the field will possess sufficient knowledge regarding not only current issues but also other knowledge regarding the world. All the above make them able to secure jobs in a wide array of fields. If you have a degree in international relations and are not yet sure what career path to choose, let this article guide your choice.


Students entering studies in international relations are all too familiar with the prospect of entering the world of diplomacy. It is, after all, what they have been prepared for throughout their education in college.

Becoming a diplomat remains the number one dream career for many students entering education in international relations for various reasons. Among them being the supposed prestige being associated with a career in diplomacy.

For a long period of time, diplomats have played crucial roles in navigating delicate issues regarding two or more countries, even during ancient times. Nowadays the lure of a career as a diplomat stems from the prospect of living overseas at their respective government’s expenses, building network with influential figures, and most importantly travelling the world.

In general, a diplomat can be understood as someone who is appointed by their state to represent the interests of that state abroad. The term and role of a diplomat is not strictly limited to one person but instead dispersed between an ambassador and the subordinating roles.

According to international law however, the ranks of a diplomat include ambassadors, envoys, ministers, and charge d’affaires. Any embassy abroad will have multiple staff employed in various positions, each having their own role in the diplomatic mission.

In summary the job description of a diplomat is to represent his or her country abroad in regards to issues pertaining culture, trade, economics, politics, law, environment, and many more.

A diplomat represents the values of their country abroad and negotiates terms with the host country according to their interests. A diplomat is often the first frontier of foreign policy formulation thus they play a crucial role in representing their country’s interests abroad.

The work of a diplomat is not limited at the host country in which they are placed. As a part of their role, traveling is always on their plates, including to the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Normally, a diplomat will only reside in the appointed country for a limited time, approximately three years however this also depends on the vacancy.

Requirements to become a diplomat vary between countries. While most countries do not require a specific degree, having earned one in international relations on its own is enough to get you ahead of other applicants by preparing you with the appropriate skills and knowledge for the diplomatic position you are applying for.

Depending on the country you are in, the status of citizenship might be another important issue you need to address including whether you are a natural born citizen, also there is an age limit between which applicants can sign up for the position as a diplomat.

Prior to being assigned overseas, countries will make sure that you are the right candidate for the position. Be ready to have your physical health assessed as once accepted your health will be put up for testing through travelling and varying weather as well as food.

Additionally, countries will also perform a background check to make sure that you can be held accountable once employed for the role in diplomacy. After the former had been completed, you will often be called for written and interview tests.

Political Analyst

A career as a political analyst is on the similar line as political scientist. The job of a political scientist revolves around studying structures and issues regarding government to later construct both practical and theoretical solutions to the problem.

The job of a political analyst encompasses a variety of issues that come with government including but not limited to foreign relations. Political analysts interpret and analyze political developments, policies, laws, and government decisions.

Their observation will later be used by their employer, be it government or private, to decide the next step. This is where a degree in international relations could be of immense help. As mentioned above, the study of international relations borrow their knowledge from precedent branches of social sciences, gives you the upper hand having a depository of knowledge encompassing a multitude of studies.

With a degree in international relations you will almost likely be able to understand the structure of governments and how they work. You will also be able to deconstruct social phenomenon and their relation to the government.

Furthermore, you can find and connect dots in regards to the issue at hand. The solution offered by a political analyst is a combination of observation, comparison, and analysis.

Political analysts can be employed by government, work for media companies, or even find their place in research institutes. Political analysts are also often employed as freelance workers with their main job being research or academics at educational institutions. This is especially because the two line of works are often interchangeable.

When working for governments, you will be investigating foreign and domestic political issues alike. Whereas, working in the private sector often means you will be managing relation with the government based on your investigation.

There is various ways in which one could enter a career as a political analyst. As mentioned before, working at an educational institution as either an academics or researcher will fare you better as you are most likely already having experience at hand.

However, if you are starting from scratch a degree in international relations would be of immense help for reasons we have discussed in the above. You might want to consider getting your masters in a more specified field under international relations to further secure a job as a political analyst.

Additionally, having foreign language skill and advanced computer skill can also increase your employability.

Intelligence Officer

You might have an idea of what intelligence officer do from watching various movies or reading books dedicated to them. However, much to our surprise as well, intelligence officer is actually an attainable career, especially with a background in international relations.

The job of an intelligence officer is to analyze, assess, and collect information for the building of intelligence. Intelligence officers play an important role in protecting security and economic well-being.

As an intelligence officer, you will also be responsible for tracking and preventing organized crimes including but not limited to illegal trafficking and terrorist groups. Overall, intelligence officer are mostly employed by government agencies such as the armed force and the police.

To start a career as an intelligence officer, you are not required to have a particular degree. However, due to the interconnected nature of crimes usually taking place across states, a degree in international relations could very much provide you with the appropriate knowledge regarding such issue.

Additionally, those seeking a career as an intelligence officer will be required to have excellent analytical as well as problem solving skills paired with attention to details and grasp on usage of modern technology mainly IT applications. Another benefit of having a background in international relations would be cultural sensitivity and aptness on current issues.

Non-government Organizations

With the rise of non-state actors in the international area, non-government organizations (NGO) should not be taken lightly in their influence. NGOs promote causes often overlooked or abandoned by governments and as a result are more inclusive in civilian participation when deciding their wellbeing.

International relations studies are often associated with bitterness towards the political dimension associated to it. However, if you come from an international background with strong social calling, then you are on the right path when choosing a career with a NGO.

Recent development in the socio-political sphere had allowed NGO to develop more, and increase in their influence as well as professionalism. Young people are constantly lured into the field with the promise of a creative working environment and prospect of making a change at least in their respective community if not globally.

Thus, if you are trying to pursue a career in an NGO you first need to identify what cause you are interested in. This will help you narrow down your options.

In general, NGO operate like businesses with departments handling different aspects such as marketing, human relations, legal, and more. Having a degree in international relations means you can do a variety of work that involve external relation, this includes becoming a communication specialist for example. As a communication specialist you will have the opportunity to create effective communication strategies and utilize platforms such as social media.

Depending on the role you are applying for, there are no particular requirements when it comes to applying for a job with an NGO. However, as the demand for positions in them is constantly increasing, the need for skills and experience is absolutely critical. Many NGO will prioritize foreign language skills as they often place workers abroad.

Additionally, to get your foot in the door, while in school it might be beneficial to be active in your community to get a feel of the cause you are advocating for at a micro level, and perhaps also build network necessary to secure a career in the future.

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