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International Studies Major

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International Studies

1,084 Master's Degrees Annually
9 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#111 in Popularity (Master's)
$115,300 Median Salary

Types of Degrees International Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many international studies graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 1,084
Graduate Certificate 89
Doctor’s Degree 9

What International Studies Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, international studies majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for International Studies Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Skills for International Studies Majors

A major in international studies prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for International Studies Majors

As a international studies major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a International Studies Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with international studies:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Political Scientists 2.7% $117,570

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in International Studies?

1,084 Master's Degrees Annually
50% Percent Women
29% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 50% of the graduates are women, and 50% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of international studies majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of International Studies Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 53
Black or African American 89
Hispanic or Latino 130
White 554
International Students 161
Other Races/Ethnicities 97

Geographic Diversity

International Studies appeals to people across the globe. About 14.9% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India

How Much Do International Studies Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that international studies students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $42,900 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $37,825 (25th percentile) and $49,325 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to international studies.

Salaries According to BLS

The median salary for someone in a career related to international studies is $115,300. This median refers to all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an International Studies Major  115,300
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with international studies require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for international studies careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 6.7%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.3%
Master’s Degree 13.3%
Doctoral Degree 73.3%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.3%

Online International Studies Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 400 schools offered some type of international studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 29 5
Certificate (1-2 years) 7 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 18 4
Bachelor’s Degree 20 5
Post-Baccalaureate 29 5
Master’s Degree 46 11
Post-Master’s 3 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 5 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in International Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a international studies grad is $115,300 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 189% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,508,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to international studies.

Major Number of Grads
Other Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 2,661
Nutrition Science 1,439
Sustainability Science 1,184
Computational Science 763
Behavioral Science 724
Museum Studies 710
Gerontology 645
Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution 630
Biological & Physical Science 611
Human Computer Interaction 562
Dispute Resolution 522
Systems Theory 460
Historic Preservation 292
Interdisciplinary Studies 213
Mathematics & Computer Science 189
Science, Technology & Society 187
Cognitive Science 152
Multicultural & Diversity Studies 131
Natural Sciences 94
Marine Science 92
Cultural Studies & Analysis 69
Medieval Studies 49
Classical & Ancient Studies 30
Holocaust Studies 30
Maritime Studies 20
Accounting & Computer Science 10
Human Biology 8
Biopsychology 1

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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