What Can I Become If I Study International Relations? Decide what to study

Are you thinking about getting a degree in international relations because this field sounds so attractive, broad and versatile at the same time? Well, international relations is truly one of the most popular study fields today, especially in the light of the increasing number of global events that have an echo in the economic, social, political and cultural life.

Pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in international relations will provide you with great insights on political affairs, public policies, economic trends, social issues, laws – all linked together and forming the big picture. But what are your career prospects once you complete your degree in international relations? The most pursued careers in international relations are: diplomats, lobbyists (activists), political analysts, international lawyers and intelligence specialists.

Compare Master programmes in international relations

Many employers are impressed by international relations graduates due to their extensive knowledge and interdisciplinary skills, and in particular, due to their exceptional language and communication abilities. This means that if you graduate an international relations degree, you can apply to diverse types of jobs in economics, journalism or market research analysis.

You'll find Masters in International Relations in universities all over the globe, including:

  • The United States
  • The United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands

Careers offered by a degree in international relations

1. Work in politics and government

A degree in international relations can help you achieve your dream of pursuing a career in the government sector. At national level you can take into consideration foreign services career. This will involve you working with top and esteemed government organizations of your country. If you have knowledge about other countries, their culture, language, and so on, you can also consider the option of joining intelligence, security or diplomacy department.

Diplomat - Maintaining good relations between countries

A diplomat has to represent and protect a nation's interests abroad in terms of politics, trade and consular services. A diplomat will have to spend usually around three years in a foreign country along with the family, and may serve in countries where there are higher rates of disease, harsh climates, or social conflicts. Diplomats can reside and travel in places where tourists can’t go such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti or Chad.

Mainly, a diplomat has to collect and report all the information he/she can that would affect the nation’ interests and keeps a close contact with government officials and politicians of the host country. The diplomat will have to discuss, negotiate and mediate with the local government issues in regards to peace and war, trade, commerce, economics, as well as social and cultural aspects.

Check out Master's degrees specialising in Diplomacy.

Intelligence specialist - Gathering state-critical information

As an intelligence specialist, you can find work opportunities in the military, the navy, security departments or almost any state department of the national government agencies. An intelligence specialist is the person responsible for data and information accuracy in a certain mission.

Main duties of intelligence specialists include:

  • collect and analyse operational intelligence data;
  • conduct mission reports, using data, maps and charts;
  • evaluate results and prepare reports, statistics and graphics;
  • maintain intelligence databases, libraries and files.
Political analyst - Understanding and explaining the political climate

Generally, a political analyst is employed by the government, but you can also find work opportunities within media companies or research institutes.

A political analyst will have to:

  • inform, analyse and interpret various political issues;
  • analyse laws, public policies, government decisions;
  • advise government officials, political parties, the media;
  • forecast political trends and election results;

Sometimes, a political analyst may be requested to advise national leaders about a foreign government's goals and their implication for the nation, based on research and historical data.

Examples of universities worldwide where you can study international relations:

  • University of Tartu
  • Jagiellonian University
  • Masaryk University
  • University of Kent
  • University of Haifa
2. Work in international business and law

As a lobbyist, you can make sure government officials hear and understand both sides of the story and as an international lawyer, you can assist companies in trade regulations, global implementation of human resource policies and so on.

Lobbyist - Promoting ideas to those who can make them reality

Lobbyists are usually hired by an association, corporation, non-profit organisations to convince government members to make a decision that would benefit the organisation or company they are representing. For instance, a lobbyist representing a health agency will have to work to convince education minister to introduce healthier lunches in schools as a way to combat childhood obesity.

Check Bachelor courses in international relations

A lobbyist will perform tasks like:

  • monitor, research and analyse legislation;
  • attend congressional hearings;
  • reach out to government policy makers;
  • use communication tools to promote ideas to the public.
International lawyer - Representing beyond borders

An international lawyer can pursue careers in the government, corporations or the non-profit sectors (international organisations such as Amnesty International, Care International, etc.).

Most times, international lawyers will have to manage and mediate the relationship between private individuals, associations, commercial organisations from different countries. Sometimes, international lawyers can even participate and mediate disputes between countries.

International lawyers will have to deal with issues that can include trade law, finance and banking, so they have to be experts in each country's laws and policies, as well as govern trade and business law.

Check out Masters specialising in International Law.

3. Work as a communications specialist in a non-profit

A degree in international relations can also help you in working for the welfare of the society. You can join non-profit organisations that operate on an international level. This will give you the chance to shape your career in a local office that has a global reach and also increases your chances of travelling to other countries. Non-profit agencies like World Vision and Red Cross provide such global service but there are many other options too.

Check out Masters specialising in Communication Sciences.

Find your perfect degree in international relations

If you already know in what area you would like to perform a job as an international relations specialist, you can apply to a Bachelor's or Mater's that focuses on that specific area. However, no matter what you choose international relations degrees will prepare you for careers in a wide variety of field.

During your study, remember to do your best in developing the rights skills, such as learning usually at least two foreign languages, level-up your communication skills, persuasion and negotiation abilities, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Good communication skills are also important. Improve your English speaking by attending an English language school abroad.

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