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2020 Best Colleges for International Studies

Approximately 8,097 international studies degrees were granted to students last year in the United States. With so many choices it can be difficult finding the best fit for you. This year's Best Colleges for International Studies ranking analyzed 68 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in international studies. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 10 colleges for International Studies students.

Choosing a Great International Studies School

Best Colleges for International Studies Your choice of international studies school matters. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. When choosing a school we recommend considering some of the following factors:

A Great Overall School

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

The lowest ranked school in our list is in the top 7% of our overall quality ranking while the vast majority are in at least the top 6%.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 113 to 39 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Above Average Earnings After Graduation

A international studies degree from schools on this list usually translates into higher than average earnings after graduation. While the average international studies bachelors degree from U.S. schools results in an average starting salary of $29,580, graduates of colleges on this list average $37,438.

Starting Salary  ( 33344 to 40755 )
$0
$42,400

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on International Studies students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other international studies students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized international studies related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best schools for International Studies students.

Best Schools to Study International Studies in United States

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study international studies. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list. Of the 68 schools analyzed, only 10 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 10 Best International Studies Colleges

#1

Colby College

Waterville, ME
1st Most Popular In ME
$40,000 Median Starting Salary

Colby College is a wonderful decision for students pursuing a International Studies degree. Located in the remote town Waterville, Colby is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. This college ranks 83rd out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Maine.

There are roughly 31 international studies undergraduates enrolled in this program at Colby. Colby College international studies majors make $4,330 more than the standard international studies grad.

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#2

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Master Highest Degree Type
1st Most Popular In PA

University of Pennsylvania is a good option for individuals pursuing a International Studies major. Located in the large city Philadelphia, UPenn is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 3 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means UPenn is a great school overall.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, UPenn offers a Master's Degree in international studies.

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#3

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA
Master Highest Degree Type
3rd Most Popular In MA
1.6% Growth in Graduates

Brandeis University is a wonderful decision for individuals interested in a International Studies degree. Brandeis is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the small city of Waltham. A Best Colleges rank of 68 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Brandeis is a great college overall.

A popular major for international studies undergraduates, there are roughly 63 individuals studying this degree at Brandeis. Brandeis University international studies graduates earn $5,930 more than the typical international studies grad.

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Master Highest Degree Type
2nd Most Popular In CA
13.0% Growth in Graduates

Every student who is interested in international studies needs to take a look at University of California - Santa Barbara. Located in the midsize suburb Santa Barbara, UCSB is a public school with a fairly large student population. This college ranks 125th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, UCSB offers a Master's Degree in international studies. Grads of the international studies program report average early career wages of $32,200.

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3rd Most Popular In CA
9.5% Growth in Graduates
$36,600 Median Starting Salary

UC Irvine is a very large public school located in the large city of Irvine. This school ranks 81st out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

A popular major for international studies undergraduates, there are roughly 220 students enrolled in this program at UC Irvine. Soon after graduating, international studies students typically earn around $36,600 in their early careers.

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#6

Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA
2nd Most Popular In MA
4.9% Growth in Graduates
$42,400 Median Starting Salary

Located in the city Chestnut Hill, Boston College is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 58 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Boston College is a great school overall.

There are roughly 82 international studies undergraduates studying this degree at Boston College. Graduates from the international studies degree program at Boston College get $6,730 above the typical college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

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#7

Pepperdine University

Malibu, CA
6th Most Popular In CA
$35,900 Median Starting Salary

Located in the suburb Malibu, Pepperdine is a private not-for-profit college with a moderately-sized student population. This school ranks 122nd out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

With 33 undergrads, Pepperdine University is one of most popular schools to study international studies in United States. Students who complete this program state that they receive average early career wages of $35,900.

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1st Most Popular In CA
37.9% Growth in Graduates
$37,500 Median Starting Salary

UCSD is a very large public school located in the city of La Jolla. A Best Colleges rank of 72 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means UCSD is a great school overall.

There are about 391 international studies undergraduates studying this degree at UCSD. Grads of the international studies program state that they receive average early career earnings of $37,500.

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1st Most Popular In MI
16.9% Growth in Graduates
$33,300 Median Starting Salary

Located in the city Ann Arbor, U of Michigan is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 35 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means U of Michigan is a great school overall.

There are about 260 international studies undergrads studying this degree at U of Michigan. Soon after graduating, international studies students usually make around $33,300 in their early careers.

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#10

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg, PA
6th Most Popular In PA
12.5% Growth in Graduates

Gettysburg is a small private not-for-profit school located in the city of Gettysburg. This college ranks 91st out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

With 16 undergrads, Gettysburg College is one of most popular colleges to study international studies in United States.

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Additional Noteworthy Schools

Here are some additional great schools for International Studies students that almost earned our Best Colleges for International Studies award.

Rank College Location
11 St Lawrence University Canton, NY
12 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
13 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
14 Providence College Providence, RI
15 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
16 Arizona State University - Tempe Tempe, AZ
17 University of Oklahoma Norman Campus Norman, OK

International Studies by Region

View the Best Colleges for International Studies for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
The Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

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

Related Major Annual Graduates
Other Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 34,540
Biological & Physical Science 27,751
Interdisciplinary Studies 6,179
Nutrition Science 4,990
Behavioral Science 4,502

View All International Studies Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Yerpo.

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