A master's degree program in international relations provides specialized knowledge regarding a certain part of the world or an area related to international business. Most programs require proficiency in a foreign language, developed either in high school or college or in classes taken concurrently during the master's degree program.
Generally, international relations degree programs permit students to specialize in either a region of the world or an area of international relations, such as global theory, strategic issues, conflicts, international development, or international business. Most schools also require undergraduate study or specific proficiency in economics. To meet graduation requirements, students may need to complete an internship or other fieldwork, oral or written examinations, or a master's thesis.
Students who graduate with a master's in international relations degree may opt to work in the public or private sector and either in the U.S. or in a foreign country. The federal government employs many people who classify their jobs as in the international relations field.
Let's take a look at the different career options and the possible earnings for graduates.
Governmental Job Options
Popular governmental employment opportunities for master's in international relations degree graduates include U.S. foreign service employment, U.S. embassies abroad, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C. Foreign service positions are highly sought after and, as such, hiring managers are extremely selective. Other governmental positions might include working in intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Homeland Security. Domestic cabinet departments with international activities and offices abroad include the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Reserve.
Non-Governmental Job Options
Non-governmental organizations that may hire international relations graduates include the United Nations, international consulting firms, private volunteer organizations and multinational corporations. In addition, those with graduate degrees in international relations may work as teachers at community colleges or secondary schools.
In January 2016, Payscale.com reported that the median annual salary for nonprofit program managers with a Master of Arts in International Relations was approximately $40,000. During the same time, the site indicated a median yearly salary of around $55,000 for research analysts holding the degree. Other job titles and estimated salary ranges for those with master's degrees in international relations are as follows:
- Intelligence analyst: $39,788 - $103,643
- Foundation program officer: $40,598 - $102,428
- Research associate: $32,229 - $71,766
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that political scientists earned a median annual salary of $99,730 and had a projected decline in jobs of 2% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reported a median annual salary of $44,190 for translators and interpreters in May 2015 with projected job growth of 29% from 2014-2024.