Studying international relations as an undergraduate student is not like studying pre-law or pre-med, where you have a (relatively) set path once you declare your major.
IR is an interdisciplinary major that equips students with skills to analyze and act within global political, economic, and cultural relations that are in constant flux.
The educational and occupational implications of an IR major are broader than some other majors, which makes it an extremely versatile degree.
You may specialize your degree in whatever way you want, and this flexibility offers a huge range of employment opportunities.
Because of the major’s breadth, it is important to choose a school that offers both a comprehensive and specialized curriculum.
- In this guide, we will give an overview of seven schools that are strong candidates for international relations and help you choose one that is a good fit for your needs.
- As we have written before, we are big proponents of choosing a college or university based on your individual lifestyle and learning needs, rather than off arbitrary rankings.
As in our other guides, we urge you to look for “the best” school for your personal needs and to look at these other factors (namely: school size, location, and culture) instead of numbers.
In addition to these other factors, here are some things you should consider that are specific to the IR major:
Study abroad and international work opportunities
- As you may infer from its name, global and international work is an important part of students’ education in this major.
- To graduate with good credentials, it is advisable that you acquire some experience abroad while you are an undergraduate.
Look at the schools you are interested in and choose ones that have many overseas internships, work, and study opportunities to choose from.
Consider the global regions the school has connections or partnerships with and whether or not they match the countries and languages that you are interested in.
It is also important not to get lost “in numbers” here. Schools with long, long lists of study abroad options do not necessarily guarantee a quality student experience.
Some schools will leave it largely up to students to make the most of their study or work-abroad experiences.
- Look for programs with well-defined roles or jobs for students that will facilitate their learning and lead to actual, applicable, and employable skills.
- For example, rather than a vague description stating that students will “work within a foreign government,” look for designated roles like “ambassador” with job descriptions detailing specific work you will engage in.
Political science, economics, languages, and creating your own major
- There are some schools that will not have an official international studies major – but do not let that deter you from attending it, if it is otherwise a good choice.
- Sometimes, an IR course of study will involve declaring a general political science major first, and then choosing an IR concentration or sub-specialization.
Other times, there will not be an IR sub-specialization and you will have to shape and specify your political science degree yourself.
In these situations, check the quality of the school’s political science, economics, and language departments, as you will have to supplement your PS degree with courses from these departments to make it have an international focus.
- It will be helpful for you to have an idea of the global region you want to study, so you can choose courses specific to those regions and customize and streamline your degree based on those interests.
- Lastly, check to see if these schools offer the option of creating your own major.
- A career in international relations can involve work in all kinds of governmental capacities, so it is helpful if you can start connecting and networking with people right from the start of your education.
Choose a school that offers a lot of networking potential.
This can be through formal settings, like job and internship fairs or more informal ones, like the school’s location and general student body.
Joint or dual-degree programs
- Think about whether you want to specialize your IR education in a way that involves other degrees.
- For example, many students who study IR eventually go on to pursue a career in law or business.
- If you know that you would like to do this from the beginning, then look for schools that offer joint degree options, where you can combine both interests.
Alright, now that we have the groundwork covered, let’s jump into the schools!
1. American University – Washington, DC
American University is a private research institution that consists of eight schools and colleges.
Located in the northwest part of Washington., the school’s setting is suburban.
- It has a total undergraduate population of about 7,234. The student-teacher ratio is 12:1 and 52 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students.
- DC is a relatively small city, so people are sometimes shocked by how vibrant life is there.
The city consists of a variety of neighborhoods and you can find everything from urban apartments to suburban homes to rural farmlands.
There are plenty of things do in DC, including a lot of cultural activities, shopping, outdoor recreation, and a great food and beer scene.
DC is full of national landmarks and every one of the museums is free to visit!
The city is also very cosmopolitan and often reminds people of NYC.
There are people from all over the world and, on any given day, you may hear multiple different languages being spoken while you commute around the city.
- If this still seems too small for you, DC is conveniently and centrally located near many cities on the East Coast.
- The drive to Baltimore and Philadelphia is under three hours long, and the drive to NYC is under five hours.
In terms of location, American University (and Georgetown) is the probably best school for students who want to study international relations, because Washington, DC is the prime political hub for the United States.
- Students should have no problem acquiring real-world working experience even as undergraduates.
Statistics certainly indicate that they have a step-up from students studying at other institutions: 91 percent of undergraduates at AU participate in internships.
The political atmosphere around DC informs much of the student culture and activities.
- In fact, American University students have been rated among the most politically active, with over 200 clubs and organizations available on campus.
You will be in good company if you choose to go here for IR.
American University has an entire school dedicated to IR – the School of International Service (SIS) – and it is the largest institution of its kind in the United States. As such, it is a competitive program to gain admission to.
To be admitted as a freshman, students apply as part of their Common Application and must have at least a B average in high school.
- Those who want to declare the major if they did not originally enter American University as an international studies major must complete a prerequisite class, among other factors.
Admitted undergrads follow a highly comprehensive, four-year track toward a BA in international studies.
Students have eight concentrations to choose from, among which are global economy, environmental sustainability, and global health, and justice, ethics, and human rights.
Students further specialize their degree by choosing a regional focus; they are required to take at least three classes in it, and many students can complete these courses abroad in the actual region they are studying!
- During their four years at AU, students receive a lot of support from SIS. The school has a specific track/sequence in place for students to help them with course selection and gives students an outline of what they should expect and complete each year.
- The school also has its own advising services explicitly for international studies students, offering one-on-one help, express advising, as well as peer advising options.
While SIS has students on a detailed path to complete their BA in international studies, the school also understands that there will be students who desire a different experience in their international studies education.
Because of this, the school is flexible in its degree offerings and has degrees available for every type of learner.
This includes a three-year BA, a combined BA/MA, and a joint degree with the Ritsumeikan University in Japan. Check out these degrees to see if they are a good fit for you!
- Another form of support SIS provides is career development. Students may make an appointment for one-on-one sessions with a career advisor at any point in their program.
- AU students do particularly well in the workforce: results of the Graduation Census from 2015-2017 show that 90 percent of undergraduates are working, attending graduate school, or doing both.
Among the top employers of students from AU are the Peace Corps, U.S. Department of State, Cambridge Associates, and Chemonics International.
2. Harvard University – Cambridge, MA
Harvard is a member of the Ivy League, and it is the most selective one out of them.
It consists of 12 degree-granting schools. Located near Boston, in Cambridge, Harvard is in an urban area.
- It has a total undergraduate population of 6,700 students. The student-teacher ratio is 7:1 and 74 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Cambridge is a town that consists of thirteen different neighborhoods.
Each one of them has its own unique characteristics, so you are bound to find a part of town that fits your personality.
It is easy to commute around without a car; there is an excellent public transportation system, as well as bike lanes.
- Contrary to popular belief, many people who live in Cambridge report that they love the community for various reasons.
- While many expect the town to be pretentious or haughty because of its proximity to Harvard (and MIT!), the general atmosphere is humble and down-to-earth.
- It is an enclave of diversity, where people of many different races and backgrounds come together. Its closeness to Boston provides students with both a “small-school” setting, as well as a real urban city.
Harvard is one of the schools that does not have an official international relations major – but this is an easy fact to overlook because it has many resources that point to its credibility as a quality IR school.
- Harvard offers a master’s degree in international relations through its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and it is considered one of the best programs in the field.
It also offers an IR degree through its Extension School, which is designed for adult learners, 21 and older, who have not earned an undergraduate degree.
- Finally, even though there is no official IR major, the international relations group on campus is one of the largest student groups at Harvard!
- Undergraduates from every school and concentration may join this group that works toward “discussions and awareness of international affairs.”
The group organizes talks, symposia, and study groups. It is a great way to meet and network with other students who are interested in the field.
It is clear Harvard has all the classes and resources necessary for an IR education, so it will not be difficult for students to customize their degrees and get the most out of their education.
Students who want to pursue IR here would go through Harvard College and declare a government concentration.
Harvard College states that one of the aims of this concentration is to teach about the “interaction among international actors” and “international relations.”
- True to this goal, the school includes IR as one of its four required subfields, and students must take at least one course in it for this concentration. Students may then further supplement their degree with courses that relate to the international region they want to study.
- Harvard College also offers the option of a creating your own concentration. This is not a guaranteed route, since students have to submit a petition with their plan of study.
A committee then reviews to see if the student’s studies consist of a “combination of disciplines not covered by [the] current offerings” and whether they would benefit from an individualized plan.
If you think you have a special bend on your goals/aims for your IR degree, then give this a try!
Harvard is a top-notch school in terms of study/work abroad opportunities and networking.
- The school’s prestige offers many connections and partnerships with the world at large, and about 60 percent of undergraduates incorporate some form of international experience into their education.
Not only that, students get advising on which programs best match their educational interests through the Office of International Education (OIE).
- Students may specify how long they want their experience abroad to be (summer, one term, or one year), what their reasons are (to study a foreign language or learn more about a particular region), and the living conditions they prefer (rural, urban, living with a host family, etc.).
OIE takes all this into account and helps students choose the best fit program.
Lastly, the school’s prestige attracts many well-known people in the field and you may have chances at building lasting relationships with them – or, at the very least, get your foot in the door.
3. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
The University of Michigan is a public research institution that is included in Richard Moll’s list of “Public Ivy” schools.
- The school’s setting is urban – Ann Arbor is the sixth-largest city in Michigan.
- The total undergraduate population is an impressive 28, 983 students. Its student-teacher ratio is 15:1, and about 60 percent of the classes have fewer than 20 students.
Ann Arbor is a beautiful city that has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best college towns by several outlets, including Forbes, the World Report, and the American Institute for Economic Research.
The Huron River runs through the city, which is surrounded by green parks and fields, so the natural world is not as hard to come by.
The university is literally built/incorporated into Ann Arbor itself, meaning that it offers a good mix of both student and city experiences.
- For example, in main student quarters like the city’s State and South University Streets, the food scene is dominated by great brunch, breweries, and diverse ethnic foods, while Ann Arbor’s lively downtown area offers higher-end options.
- Two things to consider are that, while school is in session, the student population is much, much larger than year-round residents. The other is that, even though Ann Arbor is urban, it has a distinctly different vibe than bigger cities like NYC.
It may feel (even more so than at other schools) that you are living in a bubble.
That being said, Ann Arbor is large enough that you will have plenty to do during your four years there without getting bored of your environment.
Of the eight schools in this guide, UofM probably offers the most robust student experience.
- Its large institution, public-school status means that it can support a diverse and varied number of clubs, organizations, and education departments.
This is evident in the school’s highly ranked graduate programs, which encompass all types of fields of studies: College of Engineering, Ross School of Business, Law School, and Medical School.
The University of Michigan also boasts 900 student organizations, 60 Greek chapters, and top athletic teams (which makes for great sports viewing culture).
The Big House, UofM’s football stadium, is the second-largest stadium in the world.
- All this makes UofM a good school for people who thrive in big schools, with a large student population, and who can take advantage of available resources without becoming overwhelmed.
- This is not to say that those who prefer a smaller environment will not enjoy it here. The school is expansive enough that students may easily make/join smaller pockets communities centered around their personal interests.
To study IR, students declare an international studies major through the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS). They further specialize their degree with a sub-plan.
There are four sub-plans to choose from and each represents different themes and areas of interest within IR.
PICS engages in a lot of outreach to their students.
Besides the usual advising options, they have a detailed, 44-page long Undergraduate Handbook to provide students with guidance about the major.
- They also keep an updated blog that informs students about new job opportunities, conferences, and funding opportunities.
The major itself is designed to be truly comprehensive, offering both “disciplinary depth” and “cross-disciplinary breadth.”
- Students take courses across departments and the major draws on methods developed in other disciplines, like sociology, political science, literature, economics, and many others.
The education IR students receive here is guaranteed to not be solipsistic; it is up-to-date and informed by other, relevant fields.
UofM’s belief in the importance of an interdisciplinary IR education is expressed in other ways too.
Namely, in the numerous options students have for customizing their degree – the possibilities are near limitless.
- For example, IR students may choose to declare an international studies minor and pair it with a related degree (political science, economics, anthropology, etc.).
- Unlike some other schools on this list, students are also able to declare a double major.
- International studies may pair with any other major within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, in which there are over 85 majors.
Finally, for students who want to pursue a completely different degree in addition to a B.A. in international studies, may apply for a joint degree program.
There are joint undergraduate degree options (in Architecture, Engineering, Art and Design, and Music), as well as joint undergraduate-graduate programs, where students would get both degrees.
- UofM is definitely the school to be if you want to combine your passion for IR with another completely unrelated (or related) field!
- Similar to the degree options at UofM, there are near limitless study abroad opportunities for students at this school.
Study abroad credits will count toward an international studies degree as long as students coordinate their experience through the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS).
CGIS works to provide undergraduate students a “wide variety of global engagement and learning opportunities around the world,” and gives out significant scholarships to students to achieve this mission.
A quick skim through their programs reveal that CGIS is involved in regions and countries all over the globe.
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4. Princeton University – Princeton, NJ
Princeton University, founded in 1746, is one of the oldest colleges in the U.S.
- It is another school on this list that belongs in the Ivy League. Princeton is located in a suburban area and has a total undergraduate population of 5,232 students.
- Its student-teacher ratio is 5:1, and about 73 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Princeton is a charming college campus with plenty of activities for students.
Downtown Princeton offers a variety of high-quality dining options, thrift stores and outlets for shopping, and theaters and museums.
There is easy access to parks, waterways, and trails too, and the school says “Princetonians are found exploring the outdoors all year round.”
- In terms of location, it is perfect for those looking for a smaller, intimate school setting. It may feel isolating for people who love a truly urban city vibe because, while it is not necessary, it is much easier to commute outside of Princeton with a car.
Students who wish to pursue international relations at Princeton do so through the school’s Department of Politics.
- This is one of the university’s largest departments, and it has a long and storied history: among the many influential political actors who are affiliated with the department are James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” Edward S. Corwin, and Woodrow Wilson.
In fact, Princeton is home to the Woodrow Wilson School, which is renowned for its highly ranked graduate programs in public policy and international affairs.
This is beneficial to undergraduate students studying IR in general because many faculty members are jointly appointed.
This means that professors teaching at the Woodrow Wilson School also teach at the Department of Politics, and vice versa.
- Another benefit to attending Princeton is that students can actually concentrate in international relations once they declare a politics major through the Department of Politics.
Not only that, the Department organizes its teaching into four primary fields and IR is one of them. American politics, comparative politics, and political theory are the other three.
- This means that students will not have to spread their education/curriculum across several schools and departments.
They will also have access to classes that are specifically designed for an IR education, taught by leading researchers and educators in the field. The most recent IR subfield guide lists over 15 such courses.
The international relations faculty at Princeton takes pride in remaining connected with “scholars in other areas of political science and other disciplines.”
- They pass this philosophy and cooperative culture onto students, making Princeton a great school for making connections and holistic learning.
There are many groups and centers within Princeton that the IR faculty collaborate with.
They offer talks, conventions, and chances to meet post-doctoral and faculty fellows from all over the world; topics range from global development to nuclear arms control.
- IR students at Princeton also benefit greatly from the school’s new initiative that began in 2015, the Politics Salon. This program is open solely to Politics concentrations. It involves small, intimate dinners with leading individuals in politics, journalism, and business.
- While Princeton does not give students the option of pursuing a double major, there is the Special Program where students majoring in politics may combine their study with another discipline.
Students must submit a proposal and explain how the disciplines relate to or complement each other.
Lastly, the Department of Politics at Princeton is extremely supportive and encouraging of students to study or work abroad.
They suggest that all students, even those who are primarily interested in U.S. politics, take a semester or a year abroad to learn and compare foreign democratic/non-democratic government systems.
They have a curated list of suggested programs for students and will credit a Politics concentration as many as four courses that are taken in a different country.
5. Yale University – New Haven, CT
Yale University is an Ivy League, private institution that was founded in 1701 – making it the third-oldest institution for post-secondary education.
- It located in the tri-state area, and its setting is urban. It has a total undergraduate population of 5,453 students.
- Its student-teacher ratio is 6:1, and about 75 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
One of the top questions prospective students ask about New Haven is about its safety and crime rate.
There is really nothing to worry about as a student.
The areas around Yale itself are perfectly safe and students may commute around it with no issues. Not only that, there is a free shuttle system to take students to other areas in the city.
- During your time there, you will probably see and be around extreme poverty – which can be an essential humbling experience for students studying international relations.
- Safety aside, New Haven is another wondering college campus, boasting great pizza, live music venues, and a vibrant theatre scene (there are over five theatres!). There is also a diversity of people and foods and world-class museums.
Many students have said that, while not as big as other cities, it feels truly urban and is “not too small and not too big.”
Lastly, it is a mere two-hour train or car ride to Boston and New York City, so you can easily take a weekend trip to these cities when you want a more urban feel.
For IR, students at Yale would apply to major in global affairs during their sophomore year through the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
Admission is extremely competitive (about 150 students get in), but it is well worth it if you are able to attend.
- The global affairs major at Yale is truly interdisciplinary.
- There is no one department that students fall under.
Instead, they follow a curriculum that involves taking classes taught by faculty throughout Yale’s academic department.
- While spreading classes across departments is counter to what we have been suggesting through this guide, this case is different because the Jackson Institute designs the curriculum.
- It is specially curated with courses intent on teaching students the “social science research tools to solve today’s most pressing global challenges.”
As with many selective programs, students majoring in global affairs have the advantage of smaller, more personal support and advising through the Jackson Institute.
Even the website itself is extremely streamlined and helpful for students looking for guidance.
On it, students can find everything they need: prerequisites and requirements for the major, summer internship experiences, and career support.
Students have many advising options if they have more detailed questions about their education.
The Jackson Institute also has the Office of Career Services.
They host over 60 career development events on campus, offer personalized career coaching to students, and work closely with both students and employers to connect them to one another.
- For global affairs students specifically, the Office hosts networking trips to NYC, offers mock interview sessions, and organizes small-group meetings with career speakers.
- It is no surprise that students from the Jackson Institute go on to work impressive jobs after graduation: In 2017 alone, students have secured jobs like senior associate for the Global Impact Investing Network and company commander for the U.S. Army.
The Jackson Institute’s commitment to giving students the tools to be successful in their field is evident in the requirements for the Global Affairs major.
- Besides a comprehensive course list, students are required to demonstrate L5, advanced proficiency in a language other than English.
Students are also required to complete a hands-on capstone project rather than a senior thesis.
This involves working in small groups on a public policy project for real-world clients, including governmental agencies, private sector companies, and NGOs.
- Finally, do not fret if you are worried about not gaining admission to the Global Affairs major. This is not the only trajectory available at Yale to study international relations.
Students can also elect another major (e.g. ethnicity, race, and migration or ethics, politics, and economics) that does not require an application and supplement their education with courses from the Jackson Institute – only a select few are restricted to global affairs concentrators.
6. Columbia University – New York City, NY
Columbia is the second most selective school in the Ivy League, and it contains the oldest college in New York.
It is a truly urban school because of its location in New York City.
- It has a total undergraduate population of around 4,500 students. Its student-teacher ratio is 6:1 and 83 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Columbia’s location in New York City may be one of its most sought-after aspects besides prestige and rigorous, robust education.
- If you are accustomed to city life, then you would not be left wanting if you came here.
- Columbia is in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and possesses all the usual trappings of a bustling, metropolitan city: phenomenal food, culture, theatres and museums, and a sense of cosmopolitanism.
Its location is a plus for the diversity in the student population: 50 percent of undergraduates at Columbia identify as a student of color.
It also draws many well-known people to campus: famous speakers, writers/poets, and politicians.
Students at Columbia can declare a political science major through the Department of Political Science, as well as through the School of General Studies or Columbia College.
- The Political Science Department also offers interdisciplinary, interdepartmental majors with the Departments of Economics and Statistics.
This means that students have several different sources of resources and opportunities available to them across departments and schools.
- Once students declare a political science major, they must choose one primary subfield (in this case, international relations) and one secondary subfield (American politics, comparative politics, or political theory) to specialize in.
As you can tell, Columbia offers students a highly flexible and interdisciplinary course of study.
This makes it a good choice for people who are interested in a broader, intersectional study of politics.
One of Columbia’s standout qualities is its BA/MA program for political science.
This program is unique because it does not require students to apply during their freshmen year.
Instead, interested students meet with the director of graduate studies and apply for admission during the fall of their senior year.
If admitted, they do not start their MA until they have acquired their B.A.
- This timeline allows students to think deeply about their education. They can then choose to apply (or not) to an MA after they have gained academic/professional experience in the field and have further fleshed out their individual goals.
- Another pleasant aspect of Columbia is that it provides its undergraduates with a lot of support in considering political science as a major.
Unlike some of the other schools in this list that leave much of the research to students, Columbia has a comprehensive guide detailing important facts about the major.
- It defines political science for students and explains some reasons to consider majoring in it, what is involved in the study of PS, and the potential career paths for PS students. Beyond that, students have a variety of advising options.
There are walk-in advising hours and one-on-one, appointed based advising with faculty advisors.
- Students are even encouraged to reach out to the faculty-at-large, who can provide academic advising during their office hours!
More informal support and solidarity can be found in the Political Science Students Association, whose mission is to “create a sense of community and provide opportunities for PS students to explore the major academically and professionally.”
- PSSA is committed to this mission, as it is the only non-partisan group on campus and open to people of all political views and beliefs.
It also works to connect students with faculty members and plans events for students to learn about politics/current events outside of what is being taught in the classroom.
7. Georgetown University – Washington, DC
Georgetown University is a private research institution.
It was founded in 1789 and is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher learning in the United States. Located just a few minutes away from downtown Washington, DC, its setting is urban.
- It has a total undergraduate population of around 7,450 students. Its student-teacher ratio is 11:1, and about 61% of the classes have fewer than 20 students.
Everything that was said about the advantages of American University’s prime location is applicable to Georgetown.
Like AU, Georgetown and its IR students benefit from the proximity to DC and its highly politically active culture.
Students also benefit from Georgetown’s Jesuit value of educating the whole person.
As a result, students are encouraged to actively engage in over 200 co-curricular and activities on campus.
The university is one of the foremost institutions for studying international relations: it has been ranked the best school in the world for graduate studies in international affairs.
- Undergraduates who want to study IR go through Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), where they work toward a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service.
- SFS is a great institute for undergraduates exploring a degree in politics. It is greatly supportive of student growth.
Even before declaring their major, students start with an introductory core curriculum that spans multiple disciplines. The curriculum includes courses on international affairs, theology, philosophy, and more.
Unique courses like Map of the Modern World are also open to first-year students and only available to those enrolled in SFS.
- Finally, one of the great benefits of being an IR student at SFS, is the Proseminar that is included in the core curriculum.
These seminars introduce critical approaches necessary to the study of global issues and they are kept small (no more than 15 students), so students are able to develop a close relationship with their professor and a small cohort of peers.
After the first year, students are then able to declare an international affairs major. The school offers eight different B.S. degrees.
- While all the degrees have an international angle, five of them are explicitly focused on international themes and issues; students choose one of them to focus on: international economics, international history, international political economy, international politics, or science, technology, and international affairs.
- As you can tell, the majors specialize in many different areas, so most students will be able to find one that best fits their individual interests.
Global learning is an essential part of the education at SFS – even outside of the classrooms.
The school houses “world-class Centers and Programs in all the major regions in the world.”
This means that, in addition to their B.S. degree, students may attend events, take classes, and complete certificates for these major regions to achieve an academic certificate or minor in that area (e.g. Asian studies minor/Asian studies certificate).
Study abroad is also a major part of the student experience here, with about 60 percent of SFS students participating in one.
These are often immersion programs where students study in the local language.
- Another potential reason for you to consider the School of Foreign Service is that, more so than other schools, SFS is deeply committed to social justice and activism. Driven by Jesuit ideals, service, and community are not just career paths here – they are a way of life at Georgetown.
- This is why the university has community-based learning opportunities across all schools and disciplines, as well as over 100 service programs for students and faculty to engage in.
Lastly, Georgetown alumni do exceptionally well in the job market.
The 2017 survey shows that 92 percent of students are employed, 4 percent are pursuing further education, and one percent are not seeking employment.
Even though the survey is of masters students, 97 percent is an extremely impressive post-graduation success rate.
8. Brown University – Providence, RI
Brown University provides a foundation for you to learn about the various cultures involved in international relations along with a platform for you to compare them.
- At Brown, you’ll be encouraged to think creatively when discussing global issues and analyzing society as a whole.
This program pulls from 25 departments to create a robust, comprehensive curriculum to give international relations majors the best chance for success after graduation.
9. University of California-Berkeley – Berkeley, CA
Have you ever wondered the differing effects of war and peace on the world?
That’s one of the research interests currently being discussed at the University of California-Berkeley.
In their international relations program, you can learn about historical and emerging issues in the world’s economic sphere in this eclectic, interdisciplinary curriculum.
10. Florida International University – Miami, FL
It should come as no surprise that a university with the word “international” in its name will boast a proud international relations program.
The program’s multi-disciplinary approach will have you taking courses in social rights, foreign policy, and security studies.
If you decide you like Florida International University’s curriculum, you can study international relations up to the doctorate level.
11. University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA
At the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll have the chance to make your time studying international relations what you want it to be.
There is an option to receive credit for independent study if approved, complete a senior thesis on the subject of your choice within the field, and an opportunity to graduate with honors from the program.
You know you’re surrounded by experts in the field when the university you’re attending publishes a national peer-review journal in your major of study, the Journal of International Relations.
12. Stanford University – Stanford, CA
For those wondering how the world works together (most of the time), Stanford offers a comprehensive curriculum in their international relations program.
If you’ve ever wondered how culture and the economy influence decisions across the globe, you could narrow down your perspective at Stanford after declaring this major.
13. University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
If you’re certain about your passion for international relations, the University of Chicago has an opportunity for you to get a joint degree in the topic.
Completing the joint program means you’ll walk away with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field, and you’ll have done more in-depth research than other international relations students who receive a single degree.
This is the first program of its kind in the nation.
Conclusion: The Best International Relations Schools
If you’ve read our other guides, you’re now familiar with what constitutes a top school for a particular major.
We gauge fit, campus life, opportunities, and, of course, academics when crafting these detailed lists.
When picking your international relations schools, make sure to think about all of these factors.
Succeeding in your program will depend on your experience on campus and ability to branch out while excelling at academics.
As always, let us know if you have questions!