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With cross-border transactions of varying types becoming increasingly complex, there is a definite need for people at the helm of industry, business, and government to resolve conflict and cater to people’s wider and specific needs by striking a balance on several fronts. By and large, International Relations is about global politics and the social-historical impact of global development. Worldwide development and globalization have given rise to several real-world problems requiring a deeper understanding of subjects such as war, terrorism, power, diplomacy, climate change, trade, poverty, migration, international cooperation, etc., to mitigate circumstances formulate suitable policy. An online Master’s in International Relations prepares students to understand and explore how relations between countries, businesses, activists, communities, and international organizations are affected by global, regional, and domestic factors.
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Best Online Masters in International Relations Programs
As is often the case, finding the best International Relations graduate programs can be tedious. Identifying colleges that make the cut requires several factors to be considered, such as experience and qualification of the faculty, infrastructure of the college, nature and structure of the program, courses on offer, affordability, and cost, and much more. The best schools for International Relations must be accredited and also recognized by the job market. After careful analysis, these are what we consider the best online International Relations Master’s programs:
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Cost and affordability are two crucial aspects when applying for an Online Masters in International Relations degree. With the cost of Master’s Programson the rise, it becomes increasingly important for students to weigh out the balance of the structure and quality of a program versus the cost to pursue it. Here is a list of some of the most affordable online Masters in International Relations that offer quality as well:
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Understanding Masters in International Relations Programs
An online Master’s in International Relations degree is all about understanding history, politics, anthropology, current events and applying this knowledge in solving real-world problems in business, politics, and humanitarian sectors. Typically, this Master’s Degree gives students the skills they need to maintain good diplomatic relations with other countries and avoid international conflicts while fostering cross-border business ties and promoting international trade.
Additionally, graduates of a Master’s in International Relations will be adept at giving recommendations on public policy or framing policy, based on a firm understanding of international politics, global security, and governance. From a wide range of professions in areas such as diplomacy, foreign service, federal civil service, international business, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international aid and development, or journalism, an online Master’s in International Relations opens up a host of career possibilities for those who enjoy traveling, politics, arbitration, and negotiation.
The Master’s in International Relations is designed for working students or intend to work in fields such as diplomacy, international development, international business, and global peace.
Masters in International Relations Degree Types
There are largely three types of degrees students can choose from for an online Master’s in International Relations – a Master of Arts or MA International Relations, a Master of Science or MS in International Relations, or a Master of Business Administration or online MBA International Relations. While all the three-degree types are based on International Relations, each degree has its unique flavor and approach to teach the subject.
MA International Relations
The Master of Arts or MA in International Relations takes a multi-disciplinary approach to International Relations by integrating history, anthropology, political science, philosophy, law, religion, etc., necessary to understand the complex nature of global issues and events.
MS in International Relations
The Master of Science or MS in International Relations emphasizes the technical aspects of International Relations and its relevant subjects and teaches students how to navigate complex challenges at the intersection of foreign policy, global affairs, culture, communities, human resources, and business.
MBA International Relations
The Master of Business Administration or MBA International Business approaches International Relations from a more commercial perspective. It caters to International Business based on an understanding of a growing global market, evolving markets, emerging global trends, real-world business problems, and international trade and law. The program also usually covers business management, project budgeting, office management, finance, and decision-making.
International Relations vs International Affairs vs International Studies
Some schools offer degrees not only in International Relations but also in International Affairs and International Studies. So, what is the difference between an online Master’s in International Relations vs. a Master’s in International Affairs vs. an International Studies Master’s?
International Relations focuses on law, politics, and economics, looks at how they connect globally, and how nations interact with them independently and collectively.
International Studies focuses on other countries’ cultural and social dimensions and how economic and political problems impact their people.
International Affairs programs tend to be structured similarly to International Relations programs. Still, the difference is that International Affairs concentrates more on national security and international organizations and current events on a global level.
Specializations in Masters in International Relations Programs
An online Master’s in International Relations may sometimes prove too broad-based, making it difficult to find jobs in certain sectors. Specializations dive deeper into specific aspects of International Relations, which can prepare students for jobs in related fields. Most Master’s in International Relations offer concentrations or specialized degrees that reflect the utility of the chosen career path. Some options of such specializations include but are not limited to:
Master of International Affairs
Master’s in Diplomacy
Global Studies Master’s
Master of Science in Public Health
Master’s in Foreign Policy
Master in Geopolitics Online
Online Master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy
Online Master’s in International Law and Diplomacy
Master of Public Affairs
International Relations and Journalism Master’s
Students can often also choose to extend their credit hours concentrating on a subject from within a specific department. Examples of such concentrations are:
Global Environment and Natural Resources
Word Trade and Development
Sustainable Development and Conflict Transformation
Global Peace Studies
Urban and Regional Planning
Unique Option: Global Strategic Communication Specialization A primary focus of this specialization program is teaching students how to communicate successfully across cultural and geographic boundaries in order to offer solutions to global concerns such as climate change and immigration. Through strategic interpersonal communication skills and cultural considerations, students are taught how to deal with these and other global issues. This concentration equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges through intelligent and strategic communication. One of the top-rated universities to study this area of focus is the University of Florida.
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Masters in International Relations Programs
Depending on the degree one pursues, specific courses of an online Master’s in International Relations may vary. Master in IR subjects or core courses are generally similar and prepare students to apply theory and practice to real-world situations and issues. In most cases, diplomacy and International Relations courses stem from various disciplines such as history, law, political science, economics, anthropology, and more. Sample courses might include:
Nonviolent Conflict Resolution
Theories on the Causes of War
International Relations Theory
Geography and Ecology
Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies
Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Inter-American Security Issues
International Political Economy
Economics and Global Markets
Conflict Analysis and Resolution
International Political Economy
Diplomacy and Statecraft
Comparative International Development
Theory and Research on Nonviolence and Peace
International Relations Master’s Degree programs also offer many elective courses that allow for a more customized program. While some electives focus on certain regions or countries, others look at specific aspects of International Relations. Students usually find options for electives in topics such as:
The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
US Foreign Policy
The European Union: Integration, Enlargement, and Unity
North Africa and Colonial History
Muslim Presence in Europe
Ecology of Mediterranean
Conflict Resolution and International Security
Global Environmental Politics
Politics and Diplomacy
Trade and Finance
Geopolitics in The Mediterranean Basin
Ethics of War and Peace
Media and Conflict
International Economics and The European Union
Democracy and its Critics
International Ocean Law
Scope and Methods of Political Science
Global Politics of Work and Social Welfare
Political Violence and Conflict Resolution
Note: Curriculum and courses can vary by region, college, and program. Therefore, it is important to research each program’s curriculum to find one that relates to the individual’s career goals.
In addition to learning the fundamentals of International Relations, graduates of a Master’s in International Relations will exhibit the following skills:
Effective written and oral communication.
The ability to recommend policy and also make policy.
A deeper understanding of economic principles, international trade and laws, developing markets, and the global market.
The ability to analyze various political structures, world events, foreign policy, and their influence on International Relations.
Wider awareness of cultures, communities, and social fabrics of various nations that are becoming increasingly interconnected.
Demonstrate the ability to apply theory and practice and work in various areas such as international business, foreign service, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), humanitarian sectors, media, journalism, etc.
Exhibit knowledge of how humans communicate in a global market and create effective ways of cross-border communication.
Accreditation for Online Masters in International Relations Programs
As with all Master’s degrees, Accreditation for an online Master’s in International Relations is an absolute requirement for the degree to be of value and considered by the job market. Accreditation agencies lay down standards for schools to conform to and ensure that these standards are being met and maintained throughout. While some schools may have specifically accredited programs (programmatic), most schools are regionally accredited, which is just as good an option. Some of the regional accreditation bodies in the United States are:
Students are advised to always look for accredited colleges or programs while applying for an Online Masters in International Relations. More information on Accreditation is available in our Accreditation Guide.
Timeline for graduation from Online Masters in International Relations Programs
Most online Master’s in International Relations programs require about 36 credit hours or about 18 to 24 months to complete the program. Part-time programs will require longer durations, generally taking anywhere from 24 months to 48 months to complete. In some cases, and depending on the type of Master’s program (MA, MS, or MBA), additional internship, fieldwork, or Thesis may add to the duration of the degree.
Online Masters in International Relations Programs Admission Requirements
The Master’s in International Relations eligibility criteria is rather straightforward. Along with the customary application form and requisite application fee, most colleges require students to submit:
While a Standardized Test Score of GRE is not usually mandated, some colleges require a GRE score for applicants whose cumulative undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) is below 3.0.
Additionally, students must have completed a Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent). Having some proficiency in at least one language other than English and some international experience and/or knowledge of other cultures is highly recommended.
Since admission criteria vary by college and program, it is best to check with the college’s admissions office being applied to or read the program guide for specific and fuller information on admission requirements unique to the program.
Online Masters in International Relations No GRE Programs
International Relations Master’s No GRE programs have increasingly gained popularity, especially with students who want to complete their studies faster and commence working. Fortunately, most Master’s in International Relations programs do not require a Standardized Test Score, such as those of the GRE or GMAT, to be submitted for admission. However, it is not uncommon for colleges to ask for a GRE score, should the student’s cumulative undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) be less than 3.0.
1-Year Online Masters in International Relations Programs
Free International Relations courses online generally do not award degrees that are recognized industry-wide. However, free courses are a great way to start learning or amass more knowledge on a specific area of International Relations. Here is a quick list of free online Masters in International Relations related courses:
Coursera Coursera has some 251 courses that International Relations tag. From Global Diplomacy to Moral Foundations of Politics, there are courses and specializations on various topics at various study levels.
Class Central Class Central pools together courses in International Relations and relevant topics from Universities around the world. Topics range from Right vs. Might International Relations and Digitalization in International Relations to The Changing Global Order, U.S.-China Relations: Past, Present and Future, and more.
Future Learn From 4 expert tracks to over 128 courses, Future Learn has a compelling collection of courses in International Relations, most of which are created by top Universities the world over. While access to some courses is free, others may require a subscription.
How to Pay for Online Masters in International Relations Programs
An online Master’s in International Relations can be just as expensive as other related Master’s programs, such as Anthropology, Political Science, Journalism, or History. External funding will help offset the high cost of tuition, which is why students should think about and explore the following funding options when applying to graduate schools:
Typically based on academic performance, community service, cultural heritage, religious affiliation, etc., scholarships are usually the first and best option for students to fund their advanced education. Scholarships may be merit-based, privately awarded, alumnae-funded, or given out by cultural, religious, and commercial organizations. (Note: Read about Scholarship Scams to avoid being scammed online.)
In addition to tuition fees, educational expenses such as study material, books, stationery, travel, accommodation, etc., can often be covered by grants. Unlike scholarships, grants are usually need-based and not awarded based on academic performance.
Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships are two common forms of assistantships available at many Universities. An assistantship earns students a stipend, which can assist in offsetting some of the cost of education.
Working on Campus
Being employed on campus by a University is another way of funding higher education. Salary from such part-time work should be adequate to cover a portion of the tuition fee or pay for some educational expenses.
Students can apply for federal loans, bank loans, and private loans, which are generally given out on interest payments. However, one should note that late or deferred payments will certainly translate into increased student debt.
To know more about various funding mechanisms, their many advantages and disadvantages, read the best Financial Guide.
Scholarships for Online Masters in International Relations Students
An online Master’s in International Relations is usually an expensive pursuit. Tuition fees can run into thousands of dollars, funded by spirited individuals and foundations through scholarships and fellowships to deserving students. From the many such awards out there, here are a few to explore:
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards about 75 to 80 scholarships to students committed to careers in government or elsewhere in public service and exhibit outstanding leadership potential and communication skills. Award amounts are up to $27,000 for a Master’s program. Application Deadline: Varies.
The Rangel Program grants about 45 fellowships of up to $42,000 a year, for two years, to cover tuition, room and board, books, and required fees for a 2-year Master’s program. This amount includes $24,000 in tuition and mandatory fees a year and an $18,000 school year stipend—application Deadline: Closed for 2023; TBA for 2023.
The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund provides aid to students who are active in movements for social and economic justice. The maximum available grant is $15,000 per year. Application Deadline: April 01, annually.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation offers various scholarships and fellowships in education, faculty development, religion and ethics, teaching, women & gender, and more. Award amounts can go well up to $37,000. Application Deadline: Varies.
The Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AIFO) offers scholarships of $1,200 to $4,000 to students who require the education and training to gain entry and advancement in International Relations careers and careers in intelligence and national security. Application Deadline: Varies.
FAQs about INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Masters in International Relations?
A Master’s in International Relations provides students with an understanding of history, law, politics, society, culture, economics, and foreign policy to deal with real-world problems and complexities arising from them and formulate public policy or international business policy.
What Masters can I do with an International Relations degree?
From negotiating trade agreements to being a foreign service diplomat to running international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the career possibilities and prospects for graduates of a Master’s in International Relations are plenty.
Which university offers International Relations?
Many universities are offering an International Relations Master’s Degree in the United States. A list of the best colleges and a list of the most affordable programs are furnished in this article.
Who can study International Relations?
Irrespective of the Bachelor’s Degree one has earned before applying for a Master’s in International Relations, one should preferably lean towards politics, law, and history, coupled with a solid grasp of current global affairs. Excellent written and oral communication skills and a strong foreign language background are also advantageous when pursuing this program. Students who like to travel, meditate, arbitrate, negotiate, and like international trade and politics are best suited to study International Relations.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in International Relations Graduates
From coveted posts in the government to engaging ones in humanitarian and business sectors, graduates of online Master’s in International Relations can choose from many career paths. Job opportunities are available in banking, media, development organizations, educational institutions, research firms, political parties, regional, national, and international government institutions, conglomerates, and global business houses. Some other examples of roles and careers include, but are not limited to:
Foreign Service Diplomat
Operations Research Analyst
Director of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
Training and Development Specialist
International Trade Specialist
Human Resources Specialist
Politician, Policy Adviser, and Political Analyst
Journalist or News Reporter
Interpreter and Translator
Global Communications Specialist
Foreign Affairs Officer
Public Relations Specialist
Overseas Operations Manager
Along with job prospects, salaries for jobs related to International Relations are also respectable enough. Here is a list of a few jobs and their associated median annual salary reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Certifications and Licensing for International Relations Graduates
Certification is required to further acknowledge professional competence by meeting an organization’s quality standards; its importance and prevalence vary by specialty. Although it is standard practice for companies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and government agencies to require some certification, depending on the area of expertise and operation, the field of International Relations does not warrant such certification (in most cases). Specializations and/or concentrations are deemed adequate to seek jobs in specific career paths of International Relations.
Similarly, online Master’s in International Relations graduates do not necessarily require licensure to work. However, those who wish to pursue careers in intelligence, national security, or diplomacy may be required to undergo specific training at various levels, keeping in mind the sensitivity of such roles and careers.
Additional Resources for International Relations Professionals
In the world of International Relations, contacting, communing, and communicating with people from various walks of life from around the world is exceedingly crucial to advance one’s understanding of the subject (International Relations), as well as advancing one’s career. Building contacts and references from the beginning of an online Master’s in International Relations program and engaging in the field long before one graduate is certainly advisable. Here are a few resources students and working professionals of International Relations can tap into:
Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management The Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) is dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis, and education. The site hosts podcasts, webinars, journals, conferences, events, and even career and education resources.
World Legal Information Institute The World Legal Information Institute (WLII) offers free, independent, and non-profit access to worldwide law. The portal is home to some 1,834 databases from 123 jurisdictions via 14 legal information institutes.
The New Humanitarian The New Humanitarian presents news and analysis from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The site covers major topics of Aid and Policy, Conflict, Environment and Disasters, Migration, and more, and is a great way to stay up-to-date with current affairs.
E-International Relations E-International Relations is a go-to-destination for students and working professionals of International Relations alike. There are scores of articles, essays, books, interviews, and a host of resources to explore.
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