What Can You Do With a Masters in International Studies?

International studies programs vary widely in scope and emphasis, and candidates choose a program based on their intended career. Master's degrees in international affairs or foreign language prepare students for careers in global relations, politics, communications and academics.

Careers for Master's Degree Holders in International Studies

Graduate students enrolled in international studies programs learn a variety of skills that pertain to many careers available in the job market today. Government agencies, global businesses, international banking corporations and non-profit organizations rely on employees with strong backgrounds in global affairs and in-depth knowledge of foreign cultures and practices. International studies can apply to numerous careers, including:

  • Defense and national intelligence
  • International commerce
  • Immigration and naturalization
  • Environmental and energy commissions
  • Political relations
  • Global broadcasting
  • Scientific research
  • International banking
  • Cross-cultural business
  • International law

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs are available in areas such as international affairs, international relations, foreign language education and international management. Students can even earn Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees that emphasize business and management principles within global contexts. In many cases, programs involve study abroad experiences that help reinforce the material learned in class.

Master's Degrees in International Affairs

Programs in international affairs train students to address and work for solutions to problems facing numerous parts of the world. Such problems can be economic, political or legal in nature, or they might pertain to human rights situations or environmental hazards. Students may be expected to show aptitude in one or more foreign languages, and they'll likely participate in field experiences overseas. Available programs in the discipline include Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of International Affairs. Graduates often pursue careers in public service, diplomacy and media.

Master's Degrees in International Relations

Though similar in curriculum and content to international affairs programs, international relations programs focus more on the political side of global issues. Topics studied include policy formulation, globalization and international conflict resolution. World politics are explored from both historical and modern points of view, and students focus their studies on a particular facet of international relations or on a specific geographical region. Recipients of such degrees often work in government or for non-profit groups.

Master's Degrees in Foreign Language Education

Students with a knack for linguistics might be drawn to careers as foreign language teachers. Programs in foreign language education blend pedagogy with intensive language study. Students also gain insight into the culture surrounding the languages that they choose to study. Those who graduate from such programs can go on to teach at high schools, junior colleges and private language instructional centers.

Master's Degrees in International Management

Business-minded individuals looking to work in administrative positions with foreign business leaders can pursue MBA degrees in international management, or they can pursue Master of International Management degrees. These programs are multidisciplinary in nature, blending advanced business principles with the cultural factors influencing business in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Students take courses on international economics, global marketing and international business negotiations. Programs take 1-2 years to complete, and a portion of that time is spent abroad working with students and professionals from various countries. Graduates often pursue careers with multinational corporations, or they might pursue entrepreneurial opportunities abroad.

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