What Are the Requirements to Start a Career in International Studies?

Get information about job options and education requirements for a career in International Studies. Learn about key skills, potential salaries and specializations to see if this field is right for you. Schools offering Global Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Before beginning a career in international studies, an applicant needs to be proficient in one or more foreign languages and knowledgeable about global history. Depending on the degree level pursued or exact position, some jobs may have more specific education requirements. Read on for further details.

Foreign Language Requirements

Because many careers in international studies are based abroad, it is essential for employees to have proficiency, if not fluency, in the local language. In many cases, workers must understand multiple languages and regional dialects. In addition to understanding the local language, those in an international studies field also should be proficient in the major languages of international discourse. Along with English, French, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are increasingly utilized by international studies professionals.

Important Facts about an International Studies Career

Median Salary (2018) $117,570 (for political scientists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 3% (for political scientists)
Key Skills Critical thinking
Research & analysis
Persuasive writing & communication
Public speaking
Problem-solving
Cross-c-ultural understanding
Foreign language
Information synthesis
Similar Occupations Social worker
Account executive
Secretary
Economist, Journalist
Consultant
Work Environment Office

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

History Requirements

It is important that international studies majors develop a strong sense of global and local history. Since careers in international studies often involve moving around to different countries and regions, an education in global history is essential. Related courses might help students to better understand world affairs and changes in different political organizations, social structures and historical systems.

International Relations and Political Science Requirements

International relations and political science courses are concerned with the international effects of domestic policy in the areas of economics and trade. Such courses help international studies professionals to gain knowledge of the cause and effect of domestic policies on international affairs, particularly in areas of war and conflict.

Economics Requirements

Many careers in international studies are deeply involved with economics and the flow of money throughout the world. An education in macroeconomics helps workers understand scarcity, choice, supply and demand. Students could learn of the requirements for sustained economic growth through monetary and fiscal policy. Economics studies might help learners understand the role of different countries in the world's economy and teach the importance of international trade and exchange rates.

Additional Education Requirements

Depending on their international studies career paths, students may be required to pursue additional education through either a specialized bachelor's- or master's-degree program or by earning a Ph.D degree. Areas that a specialized international studies education may focus on global political economy, culture, ideology and religion as well as global governance, human rights and civil society. For those pursuing a doctorate, expect a field studies component and the mastery of a second language, in addition to a dissertation.

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