Diplomacy is particularly well-suited to distance learning, because many programs are geared toward working professionals who may be based anywhere in the world. There are a variety of tracks and offerings, from graduate certificates to master's degrees to short workshops in language and cultural training. While distance learning courses and programs are often offered through universities, private institutions and nonprofit organizations, training and education is also provided to Foreign Service employees and their families through the Foreign Service Institute (FSI, www.state.gov). For students who choose the university route, selecting a major in international relations or political science will likely include diplomacy courses. Programs may be offered in a blended distance format, which may require students to complete a residency period on campus.
Overview of Programs
Distance learning programs in this field may require or prefer to enroll students who are already working in a diplomatic career. For most master's degree or graduate certificate programs, a bachelor's degree in international relations, political science, or a related field is generally a prerequisite. Once admitted, students could be able to earn their graduate degree in around two years.
Distance learning diplomacy course offerings vary depending on the program and many are expanding their focus to include emerging fields, such as cyber diplomacy, environmental affairs and sustainable development. Other online course offerings include the following:
- Diplomatic theory and practice
- Diplomatic law
- Consular training and management
- International relations
- Negotiation and communication
- International economics and trade
- Diplomacy and protocol
Students enrolled in an online master's program in this field may have the option to complete a thesis--a step often taken by those who plan to later pursue doctoral studies.
Online & On-Site Learning
Distance learning education and training programs are often a combination of independent study, online discussion groups, virtual classroom instruction, online exercises and exams. Students may have to commit to at least ten hours of study and instruction per week. While much of the work in distance learning programs in diplomacy is completed through independent study and online, some programs may require students to attend an initial retreat at the beginning of the program or complete a residency period.
Career Information for Graduates
Diplomacy professionals are often based overseas and may work for private companies, volunteer organizations, or government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of State. As government diplomats and Foreign Service officers, they often handle problems for Americans traveling abroad, manage operations at U.S. embassies and foster relations with the governments of host countries.
From diplomats to journalists, diplomacy career education and training can enhance careers in the international arena. Although competition for diplomatic jobs is often extremely competitive--especially in the areas of political affairs and public diplomacy--the U.S. Department of State reports that employment opportunities in the fields of economic, management and consular affairs are strong.
Diplomacy courses are often available online through international relations or political science programs at universities. Especially for working professionals, these courses can easily be completed from anywhere in the world, though students should keep in mind that an in-person residency may be required.