PhD Programs in International Affairs and Relations

International affairs and relations programs examine politics and policies, both domestic and international. Get information about the requirements to earn a doctorate, the classes offered in the program and career options. Schools offering International Relations and Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What are the Requirements for a Ph.D. in International Affairs and Relations?

The main requirement for entry into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Public Affairs or International Relations is a bachelor's or a master's degree, preferably in a field related to international relations, such as political science or economics. Non-native English speakers typically need to have a minimum score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Some programs' admissions policies may also require that you demonstrate proficiency in a language that is not English.

Usually, the doctorate program takes 3-5 years to complete. In the typical program, the first couple of years are spent on classroom study, and the last three are spent completing qualifying exams, field exams and a thesis or a dissertation. The majority of these programs are available only on-campus.

Program OverviewTypically takes 3-5 years to complete; involves classroom study, qualifying exams and completing a dissertation or thesis
Possible SpecializationsInternational organizations; security studies; science, technology and environmental policy
Common Courses Public administration, social theory, American politics, developing countries, political methods
Career OptionsTeach at postsecondary level, research, work for organizations such as the CIA or United Nations
Median Salary (2018) $117,570 (for all political scientists)  
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 3% growth (for all political scientists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Courses Will I Take?

Through a Ph.D. program in international relations or public affairs, you might complete core courses, research-based classes and courses for a specialization within the field. Possible specializations include international political economy; science, technology and environmental policy; security studies; and international organizations. You might take courses that include:

  • American politics
  • Identity, place and space
  • International perspectives and social theory
  • Public administration
  • International relations research
  • Political methods
  • State and local government
  • Theories in contemporary international research
  • Developing countries: health and public policy

How Can I Use My Degree?

With a Ph.D. in international relations, you can enter research in politics, international relations or international affairs. You could also teach at the college level. However, there are many other possibilities, including working for the United Nations or the CIA.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Tufts University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Medford
  • Clark Atlanta University

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • University of Denver

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Denver
  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham