International Relations Graduate Programs
International relations, also known as foreign affairs or international affairs, is a broad field. International relations degrees do not guarantee work in a specific career. People with international relations degrees can apply themselves to a number of occupations including:
- Foreign service analyst, officer, or specialist
- Market research analyst
International relations graduate programs prepare candidates for government or international corporation work the best. Interested candidates should expect to have to relocate or travel frequently, especially as they advance to higher positions.
Successful applicants in international relations graduate programs often share specific attributes. International relations relies upon making connections and networking with other people. Often there will be money, people’s lives, or treaties riding upon how well an international relations graduate can negotiate with another individual or group. A strong memory is also helpful. International relations graduates will have to learn and remember customs and people they may only have come in contact with once.
Jobs in the international relations-related fields require bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as doctorates. For example, an international relations graduate can apply to work for the U.S. State Department with only a bachelor’s. However, as with any other job, employers compensate international relations graduates with master’s degrees and doctorates the best. Most private sector jobs will ask for a master’s degree for jobs above entry-level.
For a job with the federal government, an international relations graduate will have to pass a civil service examination. For example, to work with the Foreign Service Office, a Foreign Service Exam is given at regular intervals during the year. It consists of a written examination. Applicants who are successful with the written portion are invited to attempt the Oral Assessment. Completion of the assessment means applicants will have to undergo a background check, medical examination, and go onto a waiting list. The long process means few applicants receive a job offer from the Foreign Service Office.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) believes that international relations-related fields will grow between 5 and 21 percent from 2008 to 2018. Specific growth rates may depend upon the field. The federal government’s job descriptions generally are broader than the private sector’s. For example, the federal government does not hire web designers. They may hire visual arts specialists who will do web design, but also perform other duties. International relations graduates who wish to work for the federal government should prepare themselves for jobs with broad duties.