20 Best Colleges for International Relations 2024 - Rankings & Fees

International relations colleges
Updated:
May 23, 2024
8 min read
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”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/23/24

If you’re interested in studying international relations in college, read on to learn about the best undergraduate colleges for international relations!

International relations, which involves the study of government and policy across nations, is a great choice for those looking to think critically about the world and the relationships between all of its players. Based on criteria like acceptance rate and tuition, we’ve hand-picked the best of the best for students wanting to grow their careers in international relations.

Top Colleges for International Relations

While many colleges in the U.S. offer an international relations program or curriculum, not all of them can be the best. The schools recognized as the best undergraduate global relations schools are listed below. 

School U.S. News Ranking
Georgetown University #22 in National Universities (tie)
Yale University #5 in National Universities
Brown University #9 in National Universities (tie)
Stanford University #3 in National Universities (tie)
University of Southern California #28 in National Universities (tie)
University of Pennsylvania #6 in National Universities
Tufts University #40 in National Universities (tie)
Johns Hopkins University #9 in National Universities (tie)
George Washinton University #67 in National Universities (tie)
Washington University in St. Louis #24 in National Universities (tie)
Princeton University #1 in National Universities
University of California, Berkeley #15 in National Universities (tie)
University of Chicago #12 in National Universities (tie)
University of Michigan #21 in National Universities
Duke University #7 in National Universities (tie)
University of Virginia #24 in National Universities (tie)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill #22 in National Universities (tie)
Harvard University #3 in National Universities (tie)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology #2 in National Universities
New York University #35 in National Universities (tie)

1. Georgetown University

Georgetown University
U.S. News Ranking #22 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 12%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1450
Average ACT Score 33
In-State Tuition $65,082

Ranking first on the list of best colleges for global relations is Georgetown University. Located in Washington, D.C. in proximity to many U.S. federal government buildings, including the White House, Georgetown has made a name for itself as the go-to school for all things international relations, government, politics, and more. 

Founded in 1919, the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown is the oldest school of international affairs in the United States and features a wide array of majors and concentrations for undergraduates studying international relations., including:

  • B.A. in Government
  • B.A. in Political Economy 
  • B.A./M.A. Program in American Government
  • B.A./M.A. Program in Democracy and Governance

Regardless of the undergraduate program that you choose to pursue at Georgetown, rest assured that all the programs offered have strong ties to global and international affairs within the curriculum and feature a faculty of experts.

2. Yale University

Yale University
U.S. News Ranking #5 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 5%
Average GPA 4.1
Average SAT Score 1540
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $64,700

Second on the list of best colleges for global relations is the prestigious and iconic Ivy League family member Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Yale is known for its specialties in many different subjects, including international and global affairs. International and global affairs studies take place at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, which was recently rebranded and opened. 

The school offers an undergraduate major in Global Affairs that features an interdisciplinary curriculum and a capstone project in the fall term of senior year. The project consists of a "unique public policy project on behalf of a real client," with the student traveling to the client's location for the project's duration. 

Ringing true to Yale's reputation of competitive admissions, the school aims for 50 students per graduating class within the Global Affairs program. 

In addition to the Global Affairs program, Yale has recently introduced a five-year joint Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science - Masters in Public Policy program. Admission to the program is limited strictly to Yale students, with prospective students encouraged to apply in the second term of their junior year.

3. Brown University

Brown University
U.S. News Ranking #9 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 5%
Average GPA 4.1
Average SAT Score 1493
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $68,230

Coming in third place on our list of the best colleges for global relations is Brown University. Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown is an Ivy League school that offers these programs through its undergraduate concentration in International and Public Affairs

Brown offers an interdisciplinary approach to their curriculum, and provides three different tracks:

  • Development
  • Policy & Governance
  • Security

Students also have the unique opportunity to focus their studies on a particular country and region regardless of their chosen track. 

4. Stanford University

Stanford University
U.S. News Ranking #3 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 4%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1505
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $62,484

When you think of Stanford University, words like "STEM," "science," and "mathematics" come to mind. But did you know Stanford has one of the best global relations programs in the nation?

Located in sunny Stanford, California, the university offers an undergraduate major/minor program in global relations that focuses on the following subjects:

  • Foreign Policy
  • International Conflict and Negotiation
  • War, Peace, and International Security
  • Terrorism
  • International Trade and Economics
  • Human Rights, Ethics, and Issues

Many Stanford global relations graduates go on to pursue postgraduate degrees in law, international policy, business, journalism, and political science. 

5. University of Southern California

University of Southern California
U.S. News Ranking #28 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 12%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1440
Average ACT Score 32
In-State Tuition $68,237

Coming in fifth on our list of best colleges for global relations is the University of Southern California (more commonly known as USC), located in Los Angeles, California. These programs at the University of Southern California take place at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. 

USC's international relations curriculum aims to “combine scholarly research and practical experience to generate new knowledge in government and politics." To further support this principle, the undergraduate Global Relations program at USC offers three separate international relations-related programs:

  • BA in International Relations 
  • BA in International Relations - Global Economy 
  • BA in International Relations - Global Business

The variety of programs makes USC a natural choice for those looking to specialize in a specific topic involving global relations. 

6. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
U.S. News Ranking #6 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 7%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1500
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $66,104

Next on our list is yet another member of the Ivy League family - the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Global relations at UPenn takes an interdisciplinary approach, and the program is recognized for its selectivity and commitment to excellence. 

The school offers a global relations major and minor program, as well as an undergraduate certificate in Global Human Rights, for students at UPenn who want to take their IR education one step further. 

7. Tufts University

University of Pennsylvania
U.S. News Ranking #6 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 7%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1500
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $66,104

The world-class global relations program at Tufts University gets the number 7 spot on our list of the best colleges for international relations. It is commonly referred to as "an international relations powerhouse." Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the school offers an undergraduate IR program that includes eight semesters of secondary language training and six different concentrations:

  • Regional and Comparative Analysis
  • Subsections include Europe and the Former Soviet Union, East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East and South Asia, and Latin America
  • International Economics
  • Global Health, Nutrition and the Environment
  • International Security
  • Globalization
  • Identity

8. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University
U.S. News Ranking #9 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 7%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1513
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $63,340

You may recognize Johns Hopkins University as a leading medical school in the U.S., but you should also know that it is home to an incredible international relations program. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins IR students are often recognized for their "firm understanding of economics and their deep expertise in international relations."

The institution offers an undergraduate major in IR and two dual degrees as well as several specialized certificates for those looking to supplement their undergraduate IR education. They are as follows:

  • Three graduate certificate options in global relations, international economics, or international studies
  • Certificate in Chinese and American Studies
  • Principles of Economics

Students who undergo the undergraduate global relations track are expected to pursue a specialization of a linguistic, thematic, or regional focus, with many different options to choose from.

9. George Washington University

George Washington University
U.S. News Ranking #67 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 49%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1370
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $64,990

Another college that ranks high in global relations is George Washington University, also located in Washington, D.C. Classes take place in the Elliott School of International Affairs, which is home to over 22,000 alumni worldwide.

The school offers a large variety of undergraduate options in the field of global relations, allowing prospective students to specialize in their interests:

  • B.A in Asian Studies
  • B.A/B.S. in International Affairs
  • B.A. in Middle East Studies
  • B.A. in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies

10. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis
U.S. News Ranking #24 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 11%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1527
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $62,982

For the best global relations program in the Midwest, look no further than Washington University in St. Louis, located in, you guessed it, St. Louis, Missouri. The school offers an International Affairs concentration as a part of its global studies undergraduate program, which has existed for over forty years. 

If you're looking to enhance your education while you're pursuing your undergrad, the global studies program offers a joint accelerated Bachelor/Master of Arts program in fields such as:

  • International Affairs
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Liberal Arts
  • Human Resources Management
  • American Culture Studies
  • Statistics

11. Princeton University

Princeton University
U.S. News Ranking #1 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 6%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1518
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $59,710

Nestled in the historic town of Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University dates back to 1746. Recently, Princeton’s School of Public Affairs just celebrated 75 years of serving the nation and will be commemorating the milestone through school events. 

As a student here, you'll be part of a program that takes a comprehensive approach to international and public affairs, weaving together disciplines like political science, economics, history, and languages.

Princeton offers a variety of degree options, from an undergraduate program to graduate programs, each equipping you with the analytical skills and cultural understanding necessary for a career on the global stage. Here are the reasons why Princeton is one of the best schools for education:

  • The university boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio of 5 to 1, guaranteeing personalized attention.
  • A rigorous undergraduate curriculum encourages a deep dive into specific regions or global challenges.
  • Three different opportunities for graduate programs
  • Master in Public Affairs
  • Master in Public Policy
  • Ph. D. in Public Affairs
  • Access to research centers like the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination fosters a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

With an acceptance rate of just 4.50% and an average entry score of 1470–1560 SAT or 33–35 ACT, Princeton's competitive atmosphere pushes you to excel. The estimated cost of attendance may be steep at $86,700, but the investment in your education here promises a world-class foundation for your aspirations in global relations.

12. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

University of California, Berkeley
U.S. News Ranking #15 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 11%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1415
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $15,891

The vibrant San Francisco Bay Area is home to the University of California, Berkeley which has academic excellence that dates back to 1868. The program “focuses on the study of contemporary and historical problems in world politics, including in international security and international political economy.”

Anchored by the MIRTH seminar series, UCB uses diverse methodologies, including socio-historical analysis, quantitative empirics, experiments, neuroimaging, and formal modeling. 

Berkeley's program is renowned for its comprehensive degree offerings, including undergraduate majors, and graduate degrees. Here's why it's counted among the best:

  • A curriculum that analyzes the historical and contemporary dimensions of international affairs.
  • A faculty of leading scholars and practitioners who bring diverse perspectives to the classroom.
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning through study abroad programs, internships, and research projects.

The university's commitment to intellectual inquiry and debate fosters a learning environment where you are encouraged to challenge the status quo and contribute to the global dialogue. UC Berkeley equips you with the tools to excel in your career and beyond.

13. University of Chicago

University of Chicago
U.S. News Ranking #12 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 5%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1520
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $65,619

The University of Chicago is a dominant force in the field of global relations. With a storied history that dates back to its founding in 1890, this well-known institution has long been synonymous with excellence in higher education.

The University of Chicago offers a graduate program in international relations called the Committee on International Relations (CIR). What sets it apart is an interdisciplinary approach that delves into the historical, political, and economic dimensions of global relations. 

Students are encouraged to engage in rigorous coursework, research, and analytical skill development.

Why is the University of Chicago one of the best schools for global relations? Here are a few reasons:

  • A strong emphasis on intellectual inquiry and debate.
  • A curriculum that challenges students to think critically and develop innovative solutions to global problems.
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning through career treks
  • Delhi Seminar: A week-long seminar on international relations in the Asian context.
  • CIR Career Exploration Trek: A one-day trek that introduces students to careers in Chicago.
  • Think Tank Trek: An annual trek that allows students to solve problems on a local, national, and global scale.

The University of Chicago's commitment to fostering a comprehensive understanding of global matters makes it a top choice for students seeking a dynamic and engaging educational experience in the realm of world politics.

14. University of Michigan

University of Michigan
U.S. News Ranking #21 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 18%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1435
Average ACT Score 33
In-State Tuition $17,786

Situated in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan supports students on the front line with impressive research and education opportunities. At U-M, the International Studies Major is a fully-developed learning opportunity that creates industry leaders in the field of politics. 

The International Studies Major at U-M develops a comprehensive understanding of global matters through a curriculum that combines political science, economics, history, and languages. 

Students must first meet these prerequisites before enrolling in the program:

  • INTLSTD 101: Introduction to International Studies (Grade of C- or better).
  • Students declaring the Political Economy & Development sub-plan must complete ECON 101 with a grade of C or better.
  • Students must have started or completed 4th-term language proficiency.

Once enrolled, you’ll be encouraged to immerse yourself in hands-on learning experiences, which are integral to the curriculum. The university's strong connections to international organizations, and the wealth of research opportunities both in Ann Arbor and beyond, all contribute to a rich educational experience that prepares you for the complexities of international relations.

Whether you're aspiring to work in government, non-profits, or the corporate sector, U-M's International Studies Major program is designed to broaden your horizons and prepare you for a successful career on the global stage.

15. Duke University

Duke University
U.S. News Ranking #7 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 6%
Average GPA 4.1
Average SAT Score 1510
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $66,172

Duke University hosts an impressive faculty of staff who are committed to nurturing global leaders. With a history that dates back to 1838, Duke has evolved into a prestigious institution offering a range of degree types in international relations, including undergraduate majors, minors, and graduate programs.

As part of their political science department, an international relations student at Duke is immersed in a curriculum that balances political science, economics, history, and language studies. 

This comprehensive approach equips you with the analytical skills and cultural understanding necessary for a successful career in diplomacy, international organizations, or non-governmental entities. Here's why Duke is among the best:

  • Global Engagement: Duke's emphasis on international perspectives helps you forge global networks.
  • Diverse Faculty: Learn from experts with varied specialties, fostering a collaborative environment.
  • Research Opportunities: Engage in hands-on research to deepen your understanding of global issues.
  • Study Abroad: Expand your horizons through Duke's extensive study abroad programs.

Duke's dedication to educating global leaders is evident in its vibrant campus life, rich with opportunities for you to engage with international issues and cultures. By choosing Duke, you're not just selecting a university; you're stepping onto a global stage, ready to make an impact on the world.

16. University of Virginia

University of Virginia
U.S. News Ranking #24 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 19%
Average GPA 4.3
Average SAT Score 1445
Average ACT Score 33
In-State Tuition $22,323

Located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia (UVA) continues to develop industry leaders every year. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, UVA has a storied history that relates to the evolution of the United States itself. 

As you explore the options for studying international relations, UVA's Global Studies major presents a compelling choice, offering degrees at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Why is UVA among the best for international relations?

  • Interdisciplinary curriculum tailored to specific international relations learning opportunities.
  • Opportunities to specialize in specific global regions or challenges.
  • A wealth of study abroad programs and internships to gain real-world experience.
  • Small class sizes and a diverse faculty with a broad range of expertise.

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to 1, you're guaranteed personalized attention and a collaborative learning environment. The program equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful career in the international relations sphere, whether in business, government, or non-profit sectors.

17. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
U.S. News Ranking #22 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 17%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1416
Average ACT Score 30
In-State Tuition $8,998

The University of North Carolina (UNC), with its rich history dating back to 1789, offers a comprehensive program for students looking to diversify their learning. Students “will apply core leadership skills to global concepts such as intercultural communication, economic development, international law, and conflict resolution.” 

Students can look forward to a career in the following after graduating from UNC:

  1. NGO and nonprofit management
  2. Government administration
  3. Embassy and diplomacy work
  4. Program and project management
  5. International development
  6. Intercultural communications and negotiation
  7. Foreign and public policy
  8. National security

UNC has a commitment to upholding a global perspective among its students. Here, you'll immerse yourself in a curriculum that integrates political science, economics, history, and language studies, all designed to prepare you for a dynamic international career. 

The program's highlights include:

  • A diverse faculty with expertise in various regions and global challenges.
  • Opportunities to engage in study abroad programs and internships.
  • Small class sizes and personalized research opportunities.

At UNC, the focus is not just on academic excellence but also on creating global leaders equipped to address the world's most pressing issues. It's a place where your education will be both deep and broad, providing you with the tools to excel in the global arena.

18. Harvard University

Harvard University
U.S. News Ranking #3 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 3%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1520
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $59,076

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University perpetuates its renown for excellence in higher education. With a storied history that dates back to 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and has become synonymous with academic prestige.

As a student at Harvard, you can take part in one of two degrees:

  1. Bachelor of Liberal Arts (A.L.B.)
  2. Master of Liberal Arts (A.L.M.)

Each is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of global issues. You'll have the opportunity to specialize in particular regions or explore pressing global challenges.

Why is Harvard among the best for international studies?

  • Access to the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, a hub for scholarly research
  • A faculty renowned for their expertise and contributions to the field
  • Rigorous coursework that hones analytical skills
  • A wealth of study abroad programs, internships, and research opportunities

This combination of resources, faculty, and a dynamic curriculum ensures that Harvard's graduates are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of global relations.

19. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
U.S. News Ranking #2 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 4%
Average GPA 4.2
Average SAT Score 1543
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $60,156

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology continues to equip students with successful careers not long after graduation. With a current academic staff of 1,089, there is no shortage of industry professionals to mentor and learn from.

This private institution enlists the best of the best in various global relations courses. Some of the top reasons to study here are:

  1. MIT’s interdisciplinary exploration has contributed to many successful breakthroughs in research, evidence, and scientific data. This not only helps a student’s application to future careers but contributes to a successful academic tenure.
  2. MIT is committed to preserving knowledge for students’ sake.
  3. MIT combines cutting-edge intellectual stimulation and a rigorous curriculum to benefit students and faculty.‍

Some of the programs at MIT include:

  • Global Diversity Lab
  • International Education (MISTI)
  • Policy Lab at the Center for International Studies
  • Security Studies Program

Studying at MIT is no doubt an excellent idea. With MIT on their college resume, graduates often find themselves in successful careers. 

20. New York University (NYU)

New York University
U.S. News Ranking #35 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 12%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1455
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $60,438

Since its establishment in 1886, the New York University has continuously delivered its promise of “preparing generations of global leaders.” The International Relations Program opens doors to a world of understanding, collaboration, and evocative experiences.

Rooted in academic excellence, the programs at NYU blend theoretical knowledge with practical skills, providing a comprehensive understanding of the complexities that define today's interconnected world. The distinguished faculty members bring a wealth of expertise, hailing from diverse backgrounds such as political science, economics, history, and sociology.

NYU’s location in the city of Manhattan serves as a prime example of international relations, more than just a general sense of the term. New York is one of the busiest states in the world, so where better to study the interconnectedness of different nations?

NYU includes three different global relations programs:

  1. Master of Arts in International Relations
  2. Master of Arts in Journalism and International Relations
  3. M.P.A.-M.A. (Dual Degree) Public and Non-Profit Management and Policy and International Relations (with Wagner)

With so many opportunities to develop a comprehensive understanding of international relations, NYU provides students with a sense of relief in their career development.

How to Choose Which International Relations College to Apply to

Choosing the right college for an international relations degree is a must for setting yourself up for success in this dynamic field. 

To find out which college best meets your goals, take our free college selection quiz. This tool allows you to curate your large list to just a few options.

Here are some key factors to consider when building out your international relations college list.

Academic Reputation and Program Offerings

Look for universities with highly-ranked international relations programs that offer a diverse range of courses and concentrations aligned with your interests. Top programs often have faculty actively engaged in research, providing valuable insights and networking opportunities.

Global Opportunities

Prioritize colleges that facilitate international experiences through study abroad programs, internships, and partnerships with organizations worldwide. Hands-on global exposure is invaluable for developing cross-cultural competencies and real-world experience.

Language Programs

Proficiency in multiple languages is a significant asset in the international relations arena. Evaluate the language offerings at each college and consider programs that allow you to minor or double major in a critical language.

Networking and Career Services

Strong alumni networks and robust career services can open doors to internships, mentorship, and job opportunities in government agencies, non-profits, and multinational corporations. Attend college fairs and connect with current students to gauge these resources.

Location and Cost

While not the primary factor, consider the location of the college and its proximity to embassies, think tanks, and international organizations for potential internships and networking. Also, factor in the overall cost of attendance and available financial aid.

Review Your Scores

When searching for your top IR college, make sure you match or exceed the minimum GPA, SAT, and ACT requirements. Many schools operate on a holistic admissions approach but match these scores to help your application stand out even further.

Remember, the "best" college is the one that aligns with your academic goals, interests, and future career aspirations in international relations. Thorough research and campus visits can help you make an informed decision.

If you still need help deciding on what college you should apply to, book a free consultation with one of our counselors. They have the inside knowledge to help you strategize the best game plan for your future in international relations.

Take it from Wei, who got accepted to Washington University in St. Louis:

"I really appreciated how the entire Quad Education team provided guidance that helped me take my applications to the next level but never tried to change my writing style or the essence of what I wanted to portray. They made the application process enjoyable, and even helped me learn more about myself that I will carry with me beyond college. I am so thankful to Quad Education for all of the amazing guidance and would highly recommend working with them!"

FAQs: Best Colleges for International Relations

Still have questions about the best colleges for global relations? Below, we've listed some answers to students' most popular questions and the best colleges surrounding them. 

1. What Schools Are Known for International Relations?

Some of the top universities known for their strong international relations programs include:

  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University
  • University of Chicago
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Tufts University
  • George Washington University

These schools offer rigorous curricula taught by esteemed faculty, providing students with a deep understanding of global affairs, diplomacy, foreign policy, and international development.

2. What Major Goes Well With International Relations?

Several majors complement an international relations degree well:

  • Political Science - Examines theories, institutions, and processes of government and politics
  • Economics - Analyzes economic systems, trade, and development
  • History - Provides context for current global issues
  • Foreign Languages - Facilitates cross-cultural communication
  • Area Studies - In-depth study of a particular world region

Double-majoring or adding a minor in one of these fields can broaden your perspective and skill set for a career in international affairs.

3. Is Majoring in International Relations a Good Idea?

Majoring in international relations can be an excellent choice for students interested in:

  • Global issues like diplomacy, conflict resolution, human rights
  • Cross-cultural understanding of diverse societies and perspectives
  • Analytical and research skills for interpreting complex information
  • Potential careers in government, non-profits, intelligence, business

However, the major requires strong writing, critical thinking, and quantitative abilities. Prospective students should carefully evaluate their interests and aptitudes.

4. What Can I Do After I Major in International Relations? 

An international relations degree prepares graduates for a variety of careers:

  • Government - Foreign service, intelligence, policy analysis
  • Non-profits/NGOs - Program management, advocacy, development
  • International Business - Risk analysis, consulting, logistics
  • Law - Immigration, human rights, international trade
  • Journalism - Foreign correspondence, editing
  • Academia - Teaching, and research at universities

Many graduates also pursue advanced degrees in international affairs, public policy, business, or law to specialize further.

5. What High School Courses Should I Take to Get Into an International Relations Program?

To prepare for an international relations program, high school students should focus on:

  • Social Sciences - History, economics, government/civics
  • Writing/English - Develop research and communication skills
  • World Languages - Proficiency in a second language is valuable
  • Math - Statistics, calculus for quantitative analysis
  • Extracurriculars - Model UN, debate team, community service

Taking rigorous coursework, maintaining a strong GPA, and demonstrating interest in global affairs through activities can strengthen your application.

6. International Relations vs. International Studies: What’s the Difference Between the Two Programs?

International Relations is a subfield focused on:

  • Foreign policy and diplomacy between nations
  • Theories of conflict, cooperation, and power dynamics
  • Role of international organizations and non-state actors

International Studies takes a broader, multidisciplinary approach examining:

  • Economic, political, social, and cultural interactions globally
  • Area/regional studies of specific countries or regions
  • Issues like development, human rights, environment

While overlapping, IR is more concentrated on state-level politics, while IS analyzes diverse forces shaping the modern world.

Final Thoughts

If you’re passionate about pursuing undergraduate relations, you’ll first have to choose a school to attend and study international relations at, which can be difficult. Many different schools offer global relations programs that are unique to one another. By listing the best ones above, we hope that we've brought you some clarity and insight into which college is right for you. 

Any choice of program listed in this article is a great pick, but keep in mind that choosing a college can be a very personal decision.  Make sure that you take the time to do your research and select the school that's right for you. We wish you the best of luck!

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