A master’s in international relations will equip you with high-level knowledge around international diplomacy, politics, and global issues. This degree will qualify you for a range of exciting roles in government, business, and non-government organizations operating on a global scale, both in the USA and overseas. There are a range of institutions offering high-quality degrees in this area across the nation.
Johns Hopkins University
Best Master’s in International Relations
Georgetown University, Walsh School of Foreign Service
The Walsh School of Foreign Service was a pioneer in foreign service degrees, first offering programs in the field in 1922. This multidisciplinary master’s degree in international relations draws on international relations, history, and economics.
Courses include: International relations: theory & practice, applied international economics, and ethics & international affairs.
Stanford is one of the world’s leading universities, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The school has an international relations class of an average of 28 students from 15 countries. This master degree in international relations allows students to specialize in one of the four specializations: cyber policy and security (CYBER), energy, natural resources, and the environment (ENRE), governance and development (GOVDEV), and international security (ISEC).
Courses include: Contemporary issues in international security, development economics, and economics of education in the global economy.
Harvard Extension School aims to provide flexible, open access education that allows students to learn from industry experts and eminent Harvard faculty. This international relations graduate program also allows you to get an optional certificate in international security, social justice, or nuclear deterrence.
Courses include: Grand strategy in international relations & US foreign policy, international conflict & cooperation, government, and history and international relations.
Jackson School of Global Affairs is well-known for attracting creative and intellectually-curious students to its flexible, interdisciplinary programs in global and international studies. This master’s degree in international relations lets students design their own course of study around a four-course structure.
Courses include: Comparative politics for global affairs, history and global affairs, and economics for global affairs.
The School of Advanced International Studies at JHU’s faculty includes many eminent scholars with connections with global thought leadership, offering students excellent intellectual collaboration opportunities. This international relations master’s degree gives you the option to earn a dual degree by combining it with a program such as business, public health, or law.
Courses include: World order and disorder, international economics, leadership, ethics, and decision-making.
Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs boasts 20 centers and programs that facilitate advanced research and contribute to policy development. As part of this Master in Public Affairs (MPA) program, students can choose between an international relations and international development track.
Courses include: International macroeconomics, weapons of mass destruction & international security, and the politics of globalization.
Harris School of Public Policy is one of the country’s leading public policy schools and aims to create leaders who value evidence and are capable of drawing on the strengths of data collection and analysis. As part of this dual degree, you will also gain an MA in Public Policy along with your MA in International Relations.
Courses include: International security, conflict studies and contentious politics, human rights, environment, and international law, principles of microeconomics and public policy.
The Fletcher School at Tufts University’s faculty includes expert practitioners who are so renowned for their cutting-edge research and publications that they frequently advise policy-makers and even presidents. MALD is the school’s flagship foreign affairs degree and is very flexible: it can be customized according to students’ academic, professional, and personal needs.
Courses include: Public international law, contemporary critical theory on international issues, and US public diplomacy.
USC’s Dornsife College is well-known for its innovative and customizable programs. You can choose between the university’s three master’s in international relations programs, each with a dual degree in law, public administration, or planning.
Courses include: International relations theory, culture, gender, and global society, and international policy analysis.
The Duke Center for International Development’s programs are built on a vision of peace and prosperity for all , with global diversity at their core. You can complete this master degree international relations program in just one year through its accelerated track.
Courses include: Global value chain analysis, migration policy & development, and effective negotiations & conflict management.
International Relations Master’s Programs: Key Facts
There are various types of master’s in international relations programs, including:
Master of Arts (MA) in International Relations
Master of Science (MS) in International Relations
Professional Master’s Degree in International Relations
Dual Master’s Degree in International Relations
Joint Master’s Degree in International Relations
Tuition for master’s in international relations programs can vary widely, based on various factors. However, the best universities charge in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 annually.
The total cost of a master’s degree in international relations includes not only tuition, but also fees, educational supplies and living expenses. These costs can also vary significantly depending on the program you choose, as well as factors such as whether you need to relocate for your studies. The annual cost for a master’s in international relations can be as low as $20,000, up to around $100,000 overall.
Accreditation for IR master’s degrees is important because it demonstrates the program meets certain independent standards and ensures you’ll receive quality education. Having accreditation also makes it easier if you want to transfer credits in the future, and you generally need to be studying an accredited program in order to qualify for financial aid.
Why You Should Get an International Relations Master’s Degree
An international relations master’s degree is a valuable qualification that qualifies you for a range of exciting roles with a global focus. A graduate degree in this area will demonstrate you have a higher level of knowledge and more advanced skills compared to those with an undergraduate qualification with a similar major.
By studying this type of degree, you’ll enjoy benefits such as:
Specialized knowledge in subject of international relevance
A diverse range of job opportunities
The opportunity to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills
A unique, global perspective
Substantial networking opportunities
Here are some of jobs the jobs you can land with a master’s in international degree, with the average annual salary for each:
How to Choose the Best International Relations Program
There are a large number of international relation master’s programs available for aspiring students, which can make it challenging to decide which is the best option for you. The first factor to consider is the topics and specializations offered by the program: international relations is a broad field, so it’s essential that the focus of the program meets your interests and career goals.
You should also consider the faculty and their areas of specialty as well as reputation, in addition to the school’s overall reputation. Research and professional development opportunities are other important factors to keep in mind.
Finally, cost is obviously a critical consideration, while you should balance this with financial aid available. Some higher-cost programs may be accessible if the school offers excellent financial aid packages.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a master’s in international relations?
Most master’s programs international relations students earn their degree in two years, but there are also accelerated programs that you can complete in just 12 months.
What can you do with an international relations master’s degree?
An international relations master’s degree allows you to build a career in international trade, foreign policy, or diplomacy across the public and private sectors.
Many master’s in international relations programs are challenging and competitive, but this degree can help you build a rewarding and fulfilling career, especially if you have a passion for international affairs. Many graduate programs in this field are highly flexible, allowing you to customize and design your own curriculum based on your areas of interest.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.