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July 23, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – International relations

Do you have a passion for the global community and are interested in learning more about international politics and studying foreign policy? If you see yourself having a career involving diplomacy and understanding the relationships between different foreign countries, you might want to consider majoring in international relations.


According to the College Board, a major in international relations most often leads to a bachelor’s degree. It is helpful to take high school courses such as AP U.S and World History in order to get extra credit and prepare for more challenging college courses. Typical major courses at the undergraduate level include diplomacy, global human rights issues, international law, U.S. foreign policy and international political economy. Classes often rely heavily on debate and discussion, and class participation and interpretive paper assignments are important factors in determining grades.

What to know before you apply

Students who wish to pursue this major should be prepared to think critically about issues in international relations, as there are few problems that have simple solutions. In addition, students should think about specializing in a particular region and should consider studying abroad as an undergrad in order to gain different perspectives on life. When looking into schools to apply to, students should be aware of the foreign language requirements, if the international relations department is separate or a part of another field such as political science, as well as what kind of study-abroad opportunities are available for their program.


Students who major in international relations can get into a variety of different career opportunities in government, law and communications. Government executives and legislators, who direct government activity and pass laws, earned an average of $37,530 as of 2009, though some in higher-up positions can earn more. News analysts and reporters, who gather information for news stories, earned an average of $67,990 (analysts) and $43,270 (reporters) per year as of 2009.


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