Comparative and International Education

Find out what you'd study in a graduate degree program in comparative and international education. Review some career options in this field, and get employment outlook and salary info for some positions you could pursue.

Is Comparative and International Education for Me?

Career Overview

Comparative and international education (CIE) involves studying education systems from around the world and using that knowledge to improve educational policies. In this field, you might analyze how an educational system is impacted by cultural, economic and social factors, and then apply that information towards policy change. You could work for a university, a government organization, a multinational corporation or a global aid organization. You could apply your education towards a career as a school administrator, a social welfare policymaker, a scholar or a health education leader; occupations in this field typically require a graduate degree.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teachers at the college or university level earned a median salary of $68,970 as of May 2012 ( The BLS reported median wages of $95,400 for training and development managers for the same time year. According to, policy analysts who earned total pay in the 10th-90th percentile range (including salary, bonuses and profit sharing) made $35,607-$85,979 in March 2014.

The BLS also reports that postsecondary teachers can expect job growth of 19% - a better than average rate - between 2012 and 2022. Jobs for training and development managers are predicted to increase 11% during that same decade.

How Can I Work in Comparative and International Education?


CIE programs are offered as master's degrees in education, so you would need to earn or have a bachelor's degree in order to enter a program. You won't necessarily need to have an undergraduate degree in education, however. Degree programs are structured so that you'll take a grouping of classes in one of the social sciences, which could be in education, but might also be in anthropology, economics or international relations.

Earning a master's degree in CIE should prepare you to work in many types of international or global entities. Depending upon your area of specialization, you might work as a banker in international economics, a teacher in educational outreach or in research for a non-profit aid organization. During the course of your degree program, you would take classes in globalization and contextualization, statistics and international education policies. Elective courses might cover areas such as international finance, social movements, historical research or the international politics of oil.

Earning a doctoral degree in CIE can qualify you to teach at the university level or to work in policy advisement or research. Working in any of these areas would involve engaging in a continual cycle of research and publication, as well as preparing presentations, lectures or papers on policy questions. Program coursework at the doctoral level would include classes in international educational development, comparative education and research methodologies.

Required Skills

Strong communication skills, including the ability to speak another language, are generally necessary. You should have good interpersonal skills and the ability to work with people from differing cultures. Most degree programs will require you to take statistics and research coursework, so an affinity for numbers and analytics would be helpful.

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