International Relations Major: How To Become One, Salaries And Possible Careers

Different forms of transformations have seemed to overwhelm the universe both positive and negative ones. This has led to sovereign states putting heads together to find lasting solutions to the negative ones as well as foster the growth of the positive ones. In order to achieve this, International Relations Major has become a trending major to study in college.

In this post, we look into International Relations Major comprehensively – what is international relations, how to become an international relations major, possible careers for persons with international relations major and their salaries.

What Is An International Relations Major?

International relations studies the interaction between countries. In a nutshell, international studies or international relations deals with the activities of sovereign countries and states. It looks into the interrelations between the government of one federation and the other. It also investigates the security architectures of these nations, their economies, politics and policies and how these policies impact the citizens of such nations as well as their counterparts.

The history, culture and politics of the world as regards different nations are therefore taught in this major. Studying international relations majors creates awareness of security and human rights. With unparalleled attention paid to factors that influence the economic, political, historical, cultural and legal framework of many nations.

As a subdiscipline of political science, the students are equally taught how to make guided analyses of current international events and also communicate their findings to others through print and media channels. Having been equipped with this information, the students can effectively become good political analysts.

Is International Relations Major Right For Me?

To study International Relations Majors, one has to develop a deep passion or interest in the happenings around the world. This means keeping tabs on the global trends such as politics, economies, policies, laws and what have you because the curriculum included courses in statistics, politics, policy, data science, anthropology (history) and economics. It also bothers with being updated with news around the world (global news).

It is for persons with a dire interest in reliable news from dependable sources. They get to analyse such news and make their contributions through group discussions with friends and colleagues.

Having the desire to learn new cultures and languages and taste new cuisines is also a sign that you may need to get an international relations degree. Getting a degree in international relations or international studies would mean travelling abroad regularly. This is because you may be required to stay with a group of people to learn about their culture.

Travelling requires enough funds and it is also time-consuming. If you have the above-mentioned interests, the resources and patience to do all these, then you can consider International Relations Major as right for you.

How Long Does It Take To Get An International Relations Degree?

Generally, a bachelor’s degree program takes about four years to complete. This applies to International Studies majors too. Candidates who wish to earn a master’s degree also spend extra two years to get their master’s degree. Whereas others may go as far as getting a PhD in this major. In some cases and some countries, this differs and they may spend less or more years to get these degrees.


What Courses Are Taught In International Relations Major?

In the process of getting an international relations degree, one can expect to take a lot of introductory courses in statistics, cross-cultural communication, world politics, policy analysis, data science, anthropology (history) liberal arts and economics. These are the common courses international relations majors can expect.

Apart from these introductory courses, the students get to choose more specialized courses as they progress. In their second and third years, they choose specialties or emphasis such as peace and conflict resolution, environmental sustainability, ethics and human rights or foreign policy etc. They also choose their regional focuses such as the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Eurasia etc.

In the final year of study, the students are required to carry out a research project or thesis which they will defend before the faculty board. In this way, they display their theoretical and practical knowledge gained.

Why You Should Study International Relations

There are many reasons why you should study international relations. To ensure that you don’t get misinformed or confused about this, this part of the post covers that. Those who major in international studies are ambitious and determined to make an impact on a global scale. Here are a few reasons why you should venture into a career in international studies.

  1. It presents you with multiple career options
  2. You will learn transferable skills
  3. You will experience different cultures and languages
  4. Ability to make real impacts
  5. Versatility
  6. Lucrative salary
  7. Lessons learnt can be applied in real life

Let’s go into details

  1. It Presents You With Multiple Career Options

With a degree in international studies, you are not limited to a single career path as in most majors. Studying international studies allows you to work in multiple careers such as environmental issues, diplomacy, political analysis or other political paths. You can equally venture into international businesses.

  1. You Will DevelopTransferable Skills

Apart from the multiple career options, you can also develop transferable skills with a degree in international affairs. These skills are transferred as analytical, communication and interpersonal skills. They are also acquired through the students’ research works as the programs are designed to equip the students with communication skills.

Students of international affairs also develop analytical and research skills that are used in solving demanding tasks/problems. They also develop interpersonal skills which are used at work and utilized in building effective cordial relationships. The students also learn public speaking and overcome glossophobia.

  1. You Will Experience Different Cultures And Languages

Studying an international relations major involves travelling around the world. By travelling around, you will experience different cultures, traditions and learn new languages. These skills are what will serve as essential skills in your future careers as an ambassador or diplomat. This will definitely put you ahead in your job search.

  1. Ability To Make Real Life Impacts

Those who study international relations can make real-life impacts through life-changing policies. Policies that fight terrorism, promote human rights and also look into environmental issues and changes can be made through their good offices. Those who also work in politics can also offer solutions to bad governance.

  1. Versatility

There is a variety of issues associated with this major and as a student, you will get to learn this. The course works and curriculum are designed to touch on versatile areas such as economics, history, statistics, political science, accounting, cybersecurity and so on. You will indirectly learn what these courses entail.

  1. Lucrative Salary

This is another good reason to study international relations. Although many will pretend about this and act like it is not a motivating factor but in reality it is. There is no doubt about the salary packages of international relations majors. The pays are quite commanding and lucrative as well. We will be discussing some of the salaries of professionals with an international studies major.

  1. Lessons Learnt Can Be Applied In Real Life

Understanding human relationship is a key to understanding cultural diversities. With special curricula designed for international relations majors, conflict resolution is paid attention to. Students who study these majors are equipped with practical skills that translate to real-life experience and can be used in peaceful negotiations. The skills they learn are useful in conflict resolution and maintaining lasting peace between nations. The above mentioned are reasons why you should study international relations major.

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How To Become An International Relations Major

To start a career in international relations requires some academic and practical skills. In this section, we look at some tips on how to start a career in International relations.

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in international relations/studies
  • Get a master’s in international studies
  • Find international relations internships and attend these internships for real-life experience.
  • Make career research about international studies
  • Gain international experience and learn a foreign language
  • Use your business networking skills

What Skills Are Required In International Relations Major

To effectively perform as an international relations expert, there are essential skills you must possess. Listed below are the required skills.

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Organizational Skills
  3. Technical Skills
  4. Analytical Skills
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Research Skills

These skills are essential. Let us discuss them briefly.

  1. Communication Skills

Communication is one of the basic necessity in every field of work, hence good communication skill is required to become an international studies major. Having a good command of the English language both written and spoken gives you an edge over your peers. Apart from the English language, it is also important to learn some other major world languages to be able to communicate very well wherever you find yourself.

  1. Organizational Skills

Organizational skill is another quality or skill that you cannot do without in international relations. At some point, you may need to carry out more than one task at a time. To successfully do that without exhausting yourself, you need to make a scale of preference on what to do and when to do it.

  1. Technical Skills

This skill is also very essential if not the most essential skill in international relations. You need to be tech-savvy to ensure you last in this profession. You must learn how to handle the computer and perform different tasks with it whenever required.

  1. Analytical Skills

The use of statistical data is one thing that you cannot do without in international studies. You must learn to input and analyse data without anyone guiding you at some point. Apart from this, you will also need to be able to look into situations, analyse them and make the most from such situations.

  1. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are essential at work. You may not really utilize this during your studies, but it makes you succeed in the labour market and compete favourably. It is essential in foreign affairs.

  1. Research Skills

The ability to perform research at any given time will enable you to know what is trending in the world. This will equally keep you updated and hence make your data reliable. A good research skill will enable you to understand both economic and social trends.

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What Can I Do With International Relations Major?

So many students who wished to study international relations may have been asking what are the Possible Careers For International Relations Major? Well just as we said in the previous chapters, a degree in international studies does not only make a career path in politics alone. There are some other possible careers for a major in international relations.

With a degree in international studies, there are lots of opportunities for you to capitalize on. After reading this section of this post we hope to make you understand why you do not have to ask the question What can I do with a major in International Relations again.

List Of Top 10 Careers For International Relations Major

Here are some of the jobs you can do with this degree.

  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Civil Servant
  • Diplomat
  • Lobbyist
  • Political/Policy Analyst
  • International Banking Officer
  • Research Consultant
  • Communication Expert
  • Teacher
  • Political Affairs Specialist

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  1. Intelligence Analyst

These are professionals whose works are to gather and process data for the department of intelligence and security agencies. They are charged with the management of the organisations’ database as well as intelligence files and records entirely. With the help of their analytical skills, they evaluate, interpret and explain results and findings.

An intelligent analyst can work in the police, military, airforce, navy, department of security services, intelligence units, bureau of diplomatic security and other intelligence or security agencies.

  1. Civil Servant

This is another occupation you can take with this major. There is an opportunity for you as a civil servant in the ministries both at the state level and at the federal level. Persons with a degree in history and international studies can be employed to work at the ministry of public affairs.

  1. Diplomat

Why You Should Study An International Relations Major: How To Become One, Salaries And Possible Careers

This is the most popular and most in-demand career path for graduates of international relations. A diplomat is specifically appointed by the government of his nation to represent their government in its relation with another sovereign state. The main duty of a diplomat is basically to maintain peace and promote friendship between his home country and the country he is sent to. Pursuing a degree in international studies is one way to take up a career as a diplomat.

  1. Lobbyist

A lobbyist is more or less a bargainer hired by the government, professional body, organisation or private individual to facilitate the adoption of a particular idea. He monitors and does extensive analyses of the effects of a particular policy or legislation. He is equally charged with the responsibility of attending public hearings as well as promoting ideas to the public.

  1. Political/Policy Analyst

The policy analyst or political analyst is employed by the government or political party. He can equally work with the media as a broadcaster or as an analyst. He interprets contemporary political issues or developments and produces data for the government to effect better policies.

See: How To Become A Political Analyst: Job Description

  1. International Banking Officer

This is another highly sought after career in international relations. It allows international relations degree holders to work as bank reps for foreign banks in their home countries. Most times they are required to get additional degrees in finance to proceed with this career path.

  1. Research Consultant

These are professionals who do research from time to time and collect findings and use their findings to make positive recommendations. It is a career path for those who major in international relations and they earn a living through this career.

  1. Communication Expert or Specialist

The communication expert can work in various places as an orator or as an interpreter. He works in media houses or other government and private agencies. The duties of a communication specialist include creating functional communication strategies, writing and sending out emails to clients, handling internal memos and creating content for public consumption. He also serves as an interpreter of languages to foreigners who do not understand the native language of the country they find themselves in.

  1. Teacher

With a degree in international relations, one can take up a role as a teacher in a secondary school or higher school. Others who get their master’s or PhD in this major can equally go ahead and work as lecturers in the universities or colleges.

  1. Political Affairs Specialist

What Can I Do With International Relations Major?

This is a part career of a Political Analyst just that a political analyst can be very versatile in his choice of work, the political affairs specialist has his career solely tied to politics and political matters. The political affairs officer can work with a political party or with the department of political affairs.

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Apart from these major careers, below are subdivisions of the above-named Careers For International Relations Major that you can equally venture into.

  • Broadcast journalist
  • Risk manager
  • Radio/TV presenter
  • Solicitor etc

What is the Salary Of  An International Relations Major

The salaries of an international relations major are different from one another. Just as the professions or careers differ. These differences are caused by factors such as career choice, where (organisation/agency) the person works and the location (state/region/country)of work. Below is the salary range of international relations majors in USD according to PAYSCALE.


S/N International Relations Major Estimated Annual Salary in USD
1. Intelligence Analyst 72,693
2. Civil Servant 40,600
3. Diplomat 90,304
4. Lobbyist 77,023
5. Political/Policy Analyst 60,920
6. International Banking Officer 51,380
7. Research Consultant 71,408
8. Communication Specialist 54,977
9. High School Teacher 51,204
10. Political Scientist 53460



As countries look for better ways to foster peace and harmony among them, international relations major has become an important field of study. It brings countries closer to each other through the works of professionals who have chosen careers in international studies. Some of these professionals include diplomats, policy analysts, lobbyists and so on.

The benefits of international relations majors are huge. The profession is also a lucrative one as from the salary structure above, the average salary scale is US$50,000. This is enough reason to start a career in this field.

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