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2021 International Studies Degree Guide

Dive into the study of international politics, global economies and relations with a major in International Studies. This is an important field in an increasingly global society. Students will get the chance to explore the delicate structure of diplomacy and interactions with other countries.

Many students pick one are of the world to focus on, whether it's Europe, Asia, Africa or any other country that interest you. Your coursework will involve in-depth study on the history, culture, politics and economy of your chosen region.

Other classes you will take are: sociology, statistics, macroeconomics, economic development, political analysis, area studies, foreign language, diplomacy, and conceptual approaches to International Studies.

International Studies Degrees Shrinking in Popularity

#95 Most Popular Major
8k Degrees Awarded
-1.6% Increase in Graduates

International Studies was the 95th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 7,967 degrees in this year alone. This represents a 1.6% reduction in international studies degrees awarded over the prior year's total of -8,097.

Approximately 298 colleges in the U.S. offer a international studies degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for International Studies ranking compares 62 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of international studies programs later in this article.

International Studies Degree Requirements

This major is ideal for students who love to explore and learn about different cultures and countries. Students should have an open mind to different experiences and perspectives. Classes will involve a lot of critical reading, research and writing. Along with writing papers, you will also be expected to participate in class discussions and debates.

Students will use analytical skills and integrative thinking to combine perspectives from various disciplines. Many programs involve opportunities to study abroad. This will greatly enhance your educational experience as you get to know a foreign culture first-hand.

Getting Accepted Into an International Studies Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. In addition to these basic international studies program qualifications, to serve in some international studies careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

International Studies Degree Types

There are many different international studies degree levels. International Studies programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest international studies degree you can get. Different international studies degrees vary in how long they take.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A doctor's degree (research / scholarship) is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to international studies, with approximately 73.3% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for international studies workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Doctoral Degree 73.3%
Master’s Degree 13.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 6.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.3%

Most workers in international studies have at least a doctor's degree (research / scholarship). The chart below shows what degree level those who work in international studies have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which international studies career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In International Studies Graduate

Low Number of Jobs
$33.4k Average Starting Salary
3% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Graduates of International Studies are prepared to work in international politics and relations, international economics, or international law. You may also decide to work as a journalist, political scientist, economist, or foreign exchange trader. Some graduates choose to continue their education with a Master's in International Relations or another related field.

Steady Demand Projected for International Studies Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your international studies degree? International Studies careers are expected to grow 2.7% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to international studies.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Political Scientists 7,500 2.7%

How Much Money Do People With a International Studies Degree Make?

International Studies graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $33,355 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $18,200 to as high as $181,700. As you might expect, salaries for international studies graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for International Studies Majors

Salaries for international studies graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers international studies grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Political Scientists $115,300

Getting Your International Studies Degree

With over 601 different international studies degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased international studies school rankings to help you with this.

One of 28 majors within the Multi / Interdisciplinary Studies area of study, International Studies has other similar majors worth exploring.

Majors Similar to International Studies

Related Major Annual Graduates
Other Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 37,392
Biological & Physical Science 29,278
Interdisciplinary Studies 6,609
Nutrition Science 4,794
Behavioral Science 3,731

View All International Studies Related Majors >


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