International Studies Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Learn about the courses and specializations found in an international studies degree program. Find out what types of jobs you may qualify for, such as a foreign service career, and check how much you could earn. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does the International Studies Major Include?

As an international studies major, you complete courses in international politics, globalization and economics. You are required to focus your studies, and can choose from peace and conflict studies, world religions, international economics, global politics, environment and development. In addition, you must choose a specific region to study, such as Africa, Latin America, Asia or the Middle East. Some programs require that students complete a study-abroad program to experience other cultures firsthand.

What Jobs Could I Qualify For?

With a bachelor's degree in international studies, you may find work as a Foreign Service Junior Officer and be promoted to a Foreign Service Officer after three years, according to USAID, the nation's leading agency for representing foreign policy interests ( These officials work with government agencies, citizens and non-profit organizations in other countries to manage assistance programs in trade, agriculture, education, conflict management, health and a variety of other subjects. A Junior Officer completes formal training in Washington, D.C., before their first international assignment for further training, according to the U.S. Department of State (

The U.S. Department of State also notes that individuals with the right credentials can enter as specialists or generalists. A specialist would focus their work in one of seven categories: international information and English language programs, medical and health, administration, construction engineering, information technology, office management or security. A Foreign Service Officer or generalist would also choose one of five specialty areas: consular, economic, management, political or public diplomacy. In each of these specialties, the officer would be responsible for a variety of tasks related to supporting policy and global issues in the U.S.

How Much Could I Earn? users identifying themselves as Foreign Service Officers report an annual salary range of $52,874-$137,568 as of 2009. According to the U.S. Department of State, several factors determine a Foreign Service Officer's pay. The first is education and experience level. The U.S. State Department also looks at whether a candidate will lose money by joining the Foreign Service. For example, in 2009, an entry-level Foreign Service Officer with a bachelor's degree and no experience would be classified as FP-6, Step 5, and could have earned an average annual salary of $42,576. Foreign Service Officers may receive other benefits, like paid holidays, life insurance and health insurance.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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