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Degree Overview: Bachelor Degree Programs in International Relations

Majors Overview January 31, 2015

Receive information about bachelor’s degree programs in international relations and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and continuing education choices.

Information on International Relations

Many schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in international relations in both on-campus and online formats. Interdisciplinary coursework in these four-year programs focuses on global relations and diplomacy. Specialization options may be included by some programs in areas such as Asian studies, comparative cultures, globalization, European studies, or comparative politics.

Students enrolled in some international relations bachelor’s degree programs may be required to participate in model United Nations simulations or complete a study abroad experience. Many other degree program options are available to students interested in world culture and politics. If schools in your vicinity do not offer an international relations program, you could consider enrolling in programs such as these:

•Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Military Studies
•Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International Relations
•Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Middle Eastern Studies
•Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science
•Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International Studies

Coursework in bachelor’s degree programs in international relations focuses on the manner of interaction including social, political, and economic—of countries with one another.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Programs in International Relations

Interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree programs in international relations cover an integration of topic areas, such as political science, economics, languages, cultural studies, geography, and history.

The domestic, regional, and cultural forces influencing the foreign policies of the country are taught to students, who also commonly study topics such as international security interactions, economic development, and democratization.

Bachelor’s degree programs in international relations may offer concentrations in various areas, including historical analyses, political economies, and comparative cultures. Students enrolled in some programs may have to spend a year or more in a study abroad requirement, while those enrolled in others may have to participate in an internship in Washington, D.C., or another governmental center. Some schools may also offer this major as a combined degree with a major in regional studies, languages, or business.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma, in addition to submission of transcripts of college entrance exam scores. Students seeking admission to some bachelor’s degree programs in international relations may be expected to have a grade of C or higher in all their lower-level political science courses.

A declaration or enrollment in this major is expected of students during the course of their first semester. At the time of such declaration or enrollment, an area of concentration may have to be selected.


The curriculum typically includes topic areas such as model United Nations simulations, comparative government, international law, history, economic analysis, and political science and theory. Core coursework may include the following subjects:

•Japanese culture and business
•International organizations
•International law
•Industrialized societies
•Economic ethics
•Developing nations
•Sino-American relations
•The rule of law and democracies
•Russian foreign policy

Career Choices

Those that complete a bachelor’s degree program in international relations can seek various entry-level positions with businesses, governmental organizations, and nonprofits or in diplomacy. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. State Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Security Agency (NSA) are among the government agencies that employ these graduates. They may choose from possible job titles such as:

•Human rights advocate
•Peace Corps officer
•Foreign Service specialist

Continuing Education Choices

Graduates from the bachelor’s degree may opt for continuing education by enrolling in law degree programs or master’s degree programs in international relations. Some schools offer a combined program with a concentration in international relations or affairs.

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