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What Can You Do With a Masters in International Studies?

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

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  • 0:04 International Studies Careers
  • 1:07 Master's Degree Programs
  • 1:32 Master's of…
  • 2:10 International…
  • 2:43 Foreign Language…
  • 3:07 International…

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Video Transcript

International Studies Careers

Students studying international studies at the master's level have a wide array of career options. Here we explore some of the options as well as the different master's degree programs and what careers they best prepare students for.

Graduate students enrolled in international studies programs learn a variety of skills that pertain to many careers available in the job market today. There are a wide variety of master's degree programs that can prepare students for a career in international studies. 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 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, or media.

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International Relations Master's

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 non-profit groups.

Foreign Language Education Master's

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, teach at junior colleges, or teach at private language instructional centers.

International Management Master's

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 in multinational corporations or entrepreneurial opportunities abroad.


Graduates of a master's degree program in international studies are prepared to work various jobs in the field, including positions in international law, political relations, and global broadcasting. Many of the available master's programs allow students to study abroad and get hands-on experience in an international setting.

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