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Study Global Issues: Education Program Options

Global studies is a broad field that helps students develop an understanding and appreciation for the complexities and diversities of international environments. Degree programs are offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

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Essential Information

Degree programs in global studies, sometimes called international relations, are multidisciplinary programs combining many fields, such as economics, business and political science. Associate degree programs give students foundational information in the factors of global citizenship through courses in political systems and economics. Many schools require a foreign language component.

Bachelor's degree programs allow students to focus their studies through their choice of minor subjects. Students gain skills including gathering and evaluating information, critically analyzing global issues and communicating effectively in English among foreign nationals in B.A. programs.

Master's degree programs look at influences on culture, often via film and art. Some master's programs call for study abroad. Many students are preparing for doctoral study in political science, international relations or another related field. Institutions require applicants to score minimum GPA and GRE scores, as well as letters from undergraduate professors.


Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Global Studies

Students looking to major in international studies or relations and political science obtain a well-rounded education sensitive to the role of global citizenship, as well as an understanding of diversity across the world. Common topics include natural environments, economies and political systems. Many associate degree programs prepare graduates for transfer to a bachelor's degree program in conflict studies, global studies, or other related areas.

Associate's degree coursework in global studies covers business, engineering and technology, public safety, arts and sciences, mathematics, hospitality, health and communications. The global studies concentration also includes anthropology, geography, government, economics, politics and history. There is a summer-study-abroad option and a transfer curriculum including:

  • World art and international relations
  • Inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Geography and global distribution patterns
  • Modern world history and problems
  • Ideologies and war
  • Social and cultural anthropology

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Global Studies

Students in the B.A. program minor in business, communications, mathematics, or nonprofit management, as well as cultural exchange, diplomacy, government and ecology. Through any of these, students learn to comprehend and apply globalization concepts, and analyze and evaluate the politics of economies. They will cover key concepts and theories affecting work relation, environmental, and security issues. A student also opts for a minor or undergraduate certificate in global studies, applying foundational issues, global competence and cross-cultural skills to other major studies.

In addition to studying abroad and international internship opportunities, classes cover cultures, societies, governance and areas including:

  • Concepts of globalization
  • Contemporary global issues
  • Global seminar and political science
  • People, politics and economics
  • Global transformation and information
  • World nations

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Master of Arts (M.A.) in Global Studies

Students explore non-Western cultures through contemporary literature, art, and film. Many programs, some with accelerated options, offer greater opportunity for international exchange through study abroad trips, overseas exchanges and international conferences. There are graduate assistantships, which result in a stipend or waiver of tuition.

Students specialize in a subfield of global affairs, fulfill a language requirement, participate in seminars, and present a master's thesis. In addition to the core curriculum, courses are required in methodology and the candidate's specialization, as well as areas in the following:

  • International business and economics
  • Politics of race and ethnicity
  • Econometrics, research methods
  • Policy and public administration
  • Human rights and genocide
  • Information technology and U.S. foreign policy

Popular Career Options

Global studies graduates can apply their knowledge and skills in areas of business, education, international associations, foreign relations, non-governmental and governmental organizations. Finding an entry-level job in a foreign country is increasingly popular because it improves a graduate's foreign language skill, develops local networking and creates the advantage of international work experience. There are entry-level opportunities available in most professional disciplines as well as for jobs like these:

  • English language teacher
  • Au pair
  • Peace Corps volunteer

Graduates with a minor or dual degree often decide to seek employment with a company headquartered in the United States that may provide opportunities for assignment or travel to its foreign office, branch or manufacturing facility. Employers may look for qualities common to most global citizens. Here are some of the jobs available through United States government departments and agencies:

  • Foreign services officer
  • English teacher in foreign country
  • Foreign social worker
  • National security agent

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social scientists and related workers in general could expect a rise in employment growth of 12% from 2014-2024, and during this time political scientists could expect job decline of of 2%. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, the median annual salary for political scientists is $99,730.

Continuing Education

Graduates can find many career-specific professional associations dedicated to international affairs and global initiatives. Most provide continuing education in many different formats from conferences and seminars to career opportunities.

An all-encompassing approach is held by some organizations and one of these, the Global Studies Foundation (GSF), offers such affiliated resources as governments and agencies, international organizations, interest groups and think tanks (www.globalstudiesfoundation.org). GSF links to public opinion sites, maps, global education and international travel, study, work and service programs.

Graduates with a master's degree in global studies may consider furthering their education through a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. The Ph.D. is available in global and international studies, international relations, comparative global history and other related areas. Earning a doctoral degree can prepare graduates for advanced positions in academia, research or politics.

After completing a global studies degree, students will have a range of skills that will be useful for careers all over the world, from international au pairing to working as a Peace Corps volunteer. Students looking to advance their career may consider going on to study a Ph.D. in the field.

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