International aid workers in a meeting.

Interested in International Relations Jobs? Definition, Courses and Salaries

International Relations

International relations is a broad field with political, societal, and economic implications that extend around the world. Careers in international relations require collaborating with many different nations and. global organizations.  The mission of people working in international relations jobs is improving global conditions by focusing on a variety of different goals including:

  • Maintaining peace and security
  • Alleviating global poverty
  • Facilitating humanitarian aid
  • Protecting the rights of women and children
  • Promoting sustainable development
  • Ensuring that international law is upheld

International relations is in action daily in the news - from a world leader’s speech on women’s education at the United Nations General Assembly to humanitarian aid delivered to victims of a Category 5 hurricane. Examples of international collaboration that address environmental challenges include the Kyoto Protocol and COP21.

Those working in international relations must understand world current events and have the ability to analyze international relations through the lens of theories devised by scholars and experts in the field to add further context and perspective. An advanced degree in international relations provides the necessary skills needed to examine and analyze interactions between different nations and the relationships among global leaders.  It also positions individuals for a wide range of career opportunities in the field.

What Is International Relations?

Keeping the peace has long been a central aim of international relations, as embodied in the charter of the United Nations, established in 1945 to promote international peace and security following the devastating impact of World War II.

But, in an increasingly interconnected world, conflicts between nations have expanded from physical battlefields into cyberspace. In volatile regions of the world, cyber tactics escalate tensions and break diplomatic ties. In a recent example, cyber attackers placed incendiary false quotes on the website of a Qatar-based news agency in 2017, which resulted in several countries banding together to cut their economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar, threatening stability in the region.

Those pursuing international relations jobs must understand these evolving challenges. Aspiring professionals must demonstrate key skills essential to support international relations’ goals of maintaining political, cultural, and economic stability throughout the world. International relations is an interdisciplinary career encompassing economics, law, politics, history, languages, intelligence, and cybersecurity. Skills in each of these areas are highly prized. Common traits in international relations professionals include autonomy, flexibility, capacity for teamwork and flexibility to work in different and sometimes confrontational settings. Other competencies needed for international relations jobs include strong communication, negotiation, and analytical skills, and knowledge of cross-cultural management.

How Does Norwich University Prepare Students?

The curriculum offered in Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in International Relations program is led by faculty experts in international relations, international systems, conflict avoidance and resolution, political theory, and foreign policy.  Students acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in several international careers. Some of the program’s courses include:

  • World Politics—International Relations: exposes students to international relations theories, global political trends, the evolution of modern international politics and the international relations discipline.
  • Economics and the International System: offers an introduction to the international economic system not only as a tool of diplomacy but also of military power. Concepts covered in the course include the impact of economic system modernization, globalization’s impact, Third World development issues, and free trade versus protectionism.
  • The Political Economy of International Development: is a seminar that answers questions related to the value that political institutions bring to economic development, the impact of economics on policymaking, and strategies behind socioeconomic, political, and cultural transformation.
  • Law and the International System: teaches students the international system structure and introduces international law concepts and terminology concerning conflict, war, war crimes, and the environment.

Career Opportunities in International Relations

From addressing food insecurity and the challenges of globalization to promoting religious freedoms and human rights, international relations jobs vary widely in their role. Outlined below are a few examples of careers focused on promoting and maintaining political, cultural, and economic stability throughout the world.


Ambassadors serve overseas as official representatives of the U.S. president and the nation. As senior-level foreign relations employees, ambassadors work at the highest levels of government and are appointed by the president with the advice of the State Department. After an appointment, they are approved by the destination country and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then confirmed by the Senate. Ambassadors oversee operations of their embassies, manage foreign service employees and U.S. personnel, and provide emergency assistance to visiting U.S. citizens. As of 2017, the U.S. State Department set the minimum annual salary for a U.S. ambassador at $124,406 and the maximum at $187,000.

Public Policy Analyst             

Public policy analysts working in international relations help shape decisions for proposed and current public policies, regulations, and legislation by gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data. They combine their knowledge of policymaking with research, data analysis, and planning to advance the aims of international relations. Through their communication, negotiation, and public speaking skills, they help raise awareness of issues that need attention. The median salary for a public policy analyst is $57,396, according to PayScale’s September 2019 data.

Federal Government Analyst             

Federal government analysts use their research skills to find gaps in processes, analyze existing programs, and develop strategies for improvements to increase effectiveness and efficiency. In compiling data, they develop reports to guide decision-making and present findings to stakeholders and senior leaders. As of September 2019, PayScale reports a median salary of $63,067 for government program analysts.

Preparing Leaders with Global Vision

Graduates of Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in International Relations program gain knowledge of diplomacy, human rights, global studies, politics, economics, and other subject areas key to international relations jobs. The curriculum is designed to prepare graduates with a solid understanding of the intricacies of international relations and the skills to build compelling, real-world solutions that help address issues of peace and security, global poverty, human rights, sustainable development, and other concerns of global import.

Explore how Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in International Relations program can help you pursue an advanced career in international relations.

Recommended Readings
Comparing Educational Paths: International Studies vs International Relations
Help Advance Your Career with the International Relations Program
Becoming a Global Leader: 6 International Relations Careers

International Relations? Britannica
Kyoto Protocol, United Nations 
What We Do, United Nations
Regional Power Struggles Explain the Rationale Behind Cyber Operations, Council on Foreign Relations
Essential Skills for a Career in International Relations, Norwich University
Master of Arts in International Relations, Norwich University
What Are the General Duties of an Ambassador? Houston Chronicle
How Much Do US Ambassadors Get Paid? Houston Chronicle
Average Public Policy Analyst Salary, PayScale
Average Government Program Analyst Salary, PayScale


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