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International Relations


International relations is the study of foreign politics and institutions. This program is sometimes called international affairs.

In international relations students learn to compare the customs and governments of other countries. They study international law and diplomacy.

International relations programs include topics such as:


A few community colleges and other two-year schools offer associate degree programs in international relations. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Most colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in international relations. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in international relations. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree. A PhD prepares people to teach at colleges or universities or work as international policy analysts.

See schools that offer this program.

Related Educational Programs

Related Careers

Careers Directly Related to this Program of Study

Other Careers Related to this Program of Study

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

In addition to normal high school requirements, it is a good idea to take as many language courses as you can.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Most schools require you to read, speak, and write at least one second language.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

In addition, you take courses about specific regions and countries. You also study at least one language other than English.

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

Things to Know

Participating in a Model United Nations conference is good preparation for international relations studies. It's also good experience for future careers in the international arena.

Studying abroad is almost always an option in international relations programs, and sometimes even required. You can study in another country for a term or a full year.

While not always required, many international relations programs encourage you to take statistics courses.

Internships allow students to develop skills at companies or organizations. Many schools have internship or employment programs set up with international organizations and government agencies. Internships are encouraged but usually not required.

A degree in international relations is considered a good starting point for further study in law, business, political science, journalism, public policy, and economics.


King-Snohomish Area

Northwest University

Seattle Pacific University

University of Washington - Seattle

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Tacoma Area

Pacific Lutheran University

University of Puget Sound