Online Masters Degree in International Relations: Program Info

Learn about online master's degree programs with international relations courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Many schools offer master's degree programs in international relations that can be completed entirely online. Such programs integrate the study of culture, politics and economics into the curriculum. While applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, it can be in any subject. Some programs also require prospective students to have a working knowledge of a second language. Students need a computer that has Internet access and is equipped with the technology necessary for students to interact with instructors and classmates through online learning platforms such as Blackboard.

Some master's degree programs allow students to work with advisors to craft an individualized program that meets their career goals. They may be able to specialize in areas such as security policy, regional affairs or comparative politics. Courses in these programs may include the foreign policy of the United States, global health, defense issues, international relations theory and comparative politics. Most programs call for a thesis project.

Master's Degree in International Relations

Online international relations master's degree programs equip students with an extensive knowledge of international affairs, global economics and world politics, as well as the ability to analyze concepts within these field. An international relations program integrates a variety of disciplines, including geography, international business, criminal justice, anthropology, history, economics and political science. Emphasis is often placed on the influence of politics and religion on international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Specialization areas such as comparative politics, security policy, regional affairs, international politics and global studies may be offered as part of an online master's degree program in international relations. Some programs may require students to have at least a working knowledge of a second language.

Program Information and Requirements

Usually about 36 credits in length, an online master's degree program in international relations typically requires prospective students to hold a bachelor's degree in any subject from an accredited institution. Online programs, which may require satisfactory GRE scores, rarely have any specific course prerequisites. Students are able to view course materials, converse with professors and take part in class discussions via Blackboard or other online learning platforms. Students also typically have access to online library materials such as reports, e-books and full-text articles. Student services such as tutoring, writing assistance and career assistance are also typically available online.

Computer requirements may include cable or DSL Internet access, a sound card, a video card and an operating system, such as Windows or Macintosh OS. Browser plug-in requirements may include Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Windows Media Player or Java VM.

List of Common International Relations Courses

Emphasizing the study of various international issues and events, a master's-level international relations curriculum covers areas such as foreign policy studies, national security and regional studies.

International Relations Theory

This course looks at contemporary theories that are currently prevalent in international relations. Focus is often placed on the role of religious and ethnic systems within international relations.

International Political Economy

This course examines the intersection of economics and politics and how the two impact the global economy. Topics covered include globalization, trade, economic imperialism, foreign aid and global capitalism.

National Security Policy

This course includes historical, economical and political issues surrounding national and international security. Focus is placed on areas such as policymaking, arms trade, national defense and nuclear proliferation.

International Law

An online international law course examines both current and historic international legal cases. The course also commonly looks at the political and philosophical development of international law.


Career Information

Graduates of an online master's degree program in international relations are prepared for careers with multinational corporations, international development agencies, business organizations, intergovernmental organizations, financial agencies and local and federal government agencies. For example, graduates could pursue employment with governmental agencies such as the Department of Defense or Federal Bureau of Investigation, public or private schools, or well-known international organizations. Graduates are also able to pursue a doctorate degree in international relations or a related area.

International relations is a multidisciplinary topic, so students in online master's degree programs can expect to study global issues ranging from law to economics to cultural studies. In addition to completing reading assignments, watching online lectures and engaging in virtual classroom discussions, most master's degree students must also conduct independent research in a particular subject of interest and submit a final thesis.

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