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2023 International Relations & National Security Degree Guide

A major in International Relations and National Security trains students to evaluate and analyze national defense policy and international relations. Studies focus on the conduct of diplomacy and foreign policy, international politics, applications of diplomacy, military power, and intelligence in relation to national defense. Students are prepared to promote regional stability and how to take action in a crisis.

Some of the classes that you will take in this major are history, public policy analysis, homeland security, threat scenarios, foreign policy analysis, international law and organization, international relations theory, and leadership.

International Relations & National Security Degrees Shrinking in Popularity

#67 Most Popular Major
14.3k Degrees Awarded
-3.2% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, international relations and national security was the 67th most popular major nationwide with 14,306 degrees awarded. This represents a 3.2% reduction in international relations degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 14,762.

This year's Best International Relations & National Security Schools ranking compares 228 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Explore this or one of our many other custom international relations rankings further below.

2023 Best Colleges for International Relations & National Security
2023 Overall Best International Relations & National Security Colleges >

Best International Relations & National Security Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in International Relations & National Security
Bachelor's Degrees in International Relations & National Security
Master's Degrees in International Relations & National Security
Doctorate Degrees in International Relations & National Security

Requirements for Getting a Degree in International Relations & National Security

This career requires sharp analytical and reasoning skills as you evaluate aspects of national defense and international relations policy. Professionals will need to keep calm in tense situations and carefully communicate details to superiors, co-workers and the general public. Develop organizational and time management skills while in college in order to balance lectures, reading, writing, and staying up to date with current events.

Innovative and creative thinking will help you propose solutions to issues, based in theories and policies learned in the classroom. You will be asked to put theory into practice as you develop methods of keeping America safe.

International Relations Degree Program Entry Requirements

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most international relations degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Once you obtain your degree, additional international relations certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

International Relations & National Security Degree Types

International Relations degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a in international relations and national security to something that takes less time like a . Different international relations and national security 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 bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to international relations, with approximately 43.5% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to international relations tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 40.1%
Doctoral Degree 29.9%
Master’s Degree 19.6%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.5%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 1.7%

92.8% of international relations workers have at least a bachelor's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in international relations and national security careers have.


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

Career Opportunities for International Relations Majors

Average Number of Jobs
$41.4k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

A major in International Relationships and National Security will open many doors for you. Graduates find positions working all over the world affecting national and global political, economic, cultural, and social systems. You can translate your skills to become a Foreign Service officer or work for a government agency or work in a civil service position. Graduates also find work in the military or in homeland security, as well as in transnational business, congress or the United Nations.

Growth Projected for International Relations Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your international relations degree? International Relations & National Security careers are expected to grow 8.0% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to international relations and national security.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Political Science Professors 23,400 10.4%
Political Scientists 7,500 2.7%

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

Recently graduated international relations and national security students earned an average of $41,398 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $16,788 to as high as $72,770. As you might expect, salaries for international relations graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for International Relations Majors

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

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Political Scientists $115,300
Political Science Professors $99,480

Getting Your International Relations & National Security Degree

With over 817 different international relations 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 relations school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in International Relations & National Security

International Relations & National Security is one of 12 different types of Social Sciences programs to choose from.

International Relations Concentrations

Major Annual Graduates
International Relations 13,117
International Security 659
Other International Relations & National Security Studies 530

View All International Relations Concentrations >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Political Science & Government 49,282
Economics 49,055
Sociology 38,475
General Social Sciences 18,997
Anthropology 11,415

View All International Relations Related Majors >


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