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International Relations & Security Major

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International Relations & Security

4,818 Master's Degrees Annually
70 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#41 in Popularity (Master's)
$115,300 Median Salary

Types of Degrees International Relations & Security Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many international relations and national security graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 4,818
Graduate Certificate 326
Doctor’s Degree 70

What International Relations & Security Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, international relations 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 Relations Majors

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

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • 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.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for International Relations Majors

international relations majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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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 Relations Majors

As you progress with your international relations degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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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.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

What Can You Do With a International Relations & Security Major?

People with a international relations degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
Investment Fund Managers 8.0% $107,480
Political Science Professors 10.4% $83,370
Political Scientists 2.7% $117,570
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480
Security Managers 8.0% $107,480
Supply Chain Managers 8.0% $107,480

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in International Relations & Security?

4,818 Master's Degrees Annually
48% Percent Women
25% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
International Relations and National Security runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #41 out of all the graduate majors we track. In 2019, about 4,818 graduates completed their master’s degree in this field. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 48% of the graduates are women, and 52% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of International Relations Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 283
Black or African American 273
Hispanic or Latino 477
White 2,274
International Students 1,073
Other Races/Ethnicities 438

Geographic Diversity

International Relations appeals to people across the globe. About 22.3% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • India
  • Canada

How Much Do International Relations & Security Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that international relations and national security students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $52,300 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $46,400 (25th percentile) and $61,100 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in international relations, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $99,480 to $115,590 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to international relations. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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 Relations & Security Major  ( 99480 to 115590 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
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 relations require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to international relations have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.4%
Some College Courses 0.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 40.1%
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. 1.7%
Master’s Degree 19.6%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.4%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.9%
Doctoral Degree 29.9%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.6%

Online International Relations & Security Programs

In 2018-2019, 470 schools offered a international relations program of some type. 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) 15 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 5 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 26 0
Bachelor’s Degree 41 12
Post-Baccalaureate 15 0
Master’s Degree 115 24
Post-Master’s 9 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 19 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in International Relations & Security Worth It?

The median salary for a international relations 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 relations.

Major Number of Grads
Economics 5,699
Political Science & Government 2,896
Geography & Cartography 2,299
Sociology 2,092
Anthropology 1,657
Criminology 941
General Social Sciences 813
Other Social Sciences 544
Urban Studies 518
Demography & Population Studies 72
Archeology 68
Sociology & Anthropology 4

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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