United States Graduate International Education Programs & Schools

International Education Graduate programs are designed to prepare educators for careers teaching diverse students in both multinational and international settings. International Education Masters and PhD programs help students develop expertise in comparative education, education policy, curriculum development and pedagogical methods and theories. Graduates may be prepared to design, implement, manage and assess international education programs in a variety of potential settings. These include schools, universities, non profits, cultural organizations and multinational corporations.

If you enjoy multiculturalism and are interested in exploring global themes in education, read on to find out how you might be enriched personally and professionally through graduate-level international education studies.

International Education Graduate Programs: Basics

International Education Graduate Programs help students prepare for a potential career as a global educator through coursework, research and often, an international placement. Students may take a set of core courses before participating in a practicum to gain real world experience. This may be domestically or abroad. They may also develop research skills and explore a specific challenge or issue in international education in depth.

Some programs may require candidates who have a Bachelor’s degree, teacher certification, teaching license and teaching experience. Others may be designed for those new to the teaching field or interested in roles outside the classroom. So you may have to do some homework to see which international educatino graduate programs best suit your needs.

What Does it Mean to Study International Education?

International education studies usually take on an interdisciplinary and comparative approach. Courses may integrate aspects of several social sciences.

  • Political science
  • Anthropology
  • Global studies
  • Economics
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology

More specifically, international education programs explore the cultural, social, and linguistic contexts of education around the world. Courses usually explore educational theory then look at practical applications. While International Education graduate programs vary in scope, you might expect to study some of the below topics.

  • How to manage study abroad programs
  • How to manage international student services offices
  • How to provide English as a Second Language and Teaching (ESL and TESOL) services
  • Knowledge of world regions and their cultures
  • International and global issues
  • How to work effectively in cross-cultural settings
  • Communicating in multiple languages
  • Analysis of international educational policies
  • Humanitarian efforts
  • Diplomacy
  • Research Methodologies
  • How to improve education worldwide

International education graduate programs each have their own course lists and criteria. Reach out directly for details.

Types of International Education Graduate Programs

Graduate International Education programs are available as graduate certificates, master’s and doctorate degrees. These are each designed with various goals and experience levels in mind.

Graduate Certificates in International Education  

Earning a Graduate Certificate in International Education may be a good fit for the student who is seeking a boost to their credentials and skills but is not ready for a full degree. Certificate programs are typically shorter than other graduate international education programs, with a more focused curriculum. This route may also be great for current licensed teachers who already hold a masters degrees but wish to explore a new area of education.

Classes may be similar to those offered in an international education masters program. This may mean that one can use the credits from a certificate towards a Master’s degree later on, though this varies by program. While keeping your continued education options open, you might acquire helpful tools for teaching abroad. Contact individual programs to learn about credit transfers and other requirements.

Masters in International Education Programs

International Education Masters programs typically are offered either as MA programs or M.Ed. programs. They are usually 35-40 credits in length, which may mean full time students can complete their Masters International Education degree in 1.5 - 2 years. However many schools allow 5 years or more for completion which can be helpful to the working teacher.

Masters in International Education programs may teach principles of leadership, educational management and business concepts such as school finance and conflict resolution. As well, they may be aimed at specific levels of education such as elementary or middle school. Some International Education Masters programs also offer the opportunity to choose a further concentration. ESL/TESOL, International Administration,  International Development Education and Curriculum Development and Supervision are some examples.

Usually students are exposed to core topics, electives, and select research topics that coordinate with personal and vocational goals. Internships and study abroad experiences may also be required or encouraged. Some masters programs may have a thesis requirement for graduation. This is not always the case, but could be helpful for those hoping to go on to a doctoral program. Check with individual international education masters programs for details.

Typical careers in international education that require at least a master’s degree include the following.

  • Instructional Coordinatorsi
  • Elementary, Middle and High School Principalsii
  • Teachers in some statesiii

Entry level education requirements vary. These positions may also have additional licensure or certification requirements. Check with state boards and employers.

PhD in International Education Programs

Beyond the masters level, students might choose to enroll in a PhD International Education program. PhDs are research intensive, terminal degrees. These programs may allow a student to explore a specific area of interest and contribute new knowledge to the field.

Some Doctorate in International Education programs may also be designed to help students further develop leadership abilities. These might be found in the form of a EdD degree but this isn't always the case. Often PhDs and EdDs share some overlap and differences may be simply determined by the school.

Many International Education PhD programs require a masters degree for entry, as well as some experience in the field. While there are course requirements, a bulk of a student's time may go towards researching and writing a dissertation. This often must be presented and defended at the end of the program, though schools vary.

Upon graduation, students may be qualified to pursue educational administration, academic and research-based careers such as those listed below.

  • Deans, Provostiv
  • University Professorsv

Residential or Online International Education Program?

International Education Graduate Programs may be offered as on-campus (residential) programs or online degrees. There are advantages to each type of program depending on what your needs are. Graduate International Education Schools provide the traditional classroom experience, as well as access to campus facilities such as labs, libraries and more. There could be a study abroad or degree abroad option offered by universities and colleges in the United States, so it is not unfeasible to be close to home for some of your degree and in another country for an internship or supervised practicum.

Online International Education programs offer unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Coursework may be availabe when and where is best for you. Often programs mirror campus options, but utilize digital platforms and other technological tools. Some may even live stream lectures from campus classrooms. It is important to note that some online international education graduation programs may still have in person requirements. These internships and practicums may require finding placements nearby or short campus visits. Every school designs their program differently, so its best to contact an admission advisor.

Accreditated International Education Graduate Programs

It may be important to look for an international education program at an accredited university. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by a school meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations at the regional or national level, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not the criteria is met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency. This is an ongoing process and needs to be updated regularly.

Accreditation may speak to the schools finances, faculty and performance. It may also be important if you wish to apply for financial aid or teaching licensure and certification. Licensing requirements vary by state however, so it's best to conduct your own research. 

Find Graduate International Education Programs

Ready to find your perfect International Education Graduate Program? Start by simply reviewing the listings here. Or refine your search by choosing the degree level and either ‘campus’ or ‘online’  from the menu bar. You can also search our site directory by selecting the city, state or country you prefer.

Once you have selected your degree level and program format, scroll through the sponsored listings to find options such as Master of Arts in International and Multicultural Education, Masters of international Education Management or Graduate Programs in international Education (among others). From there, request more information from your choice universities to learn about their unique features, courses and enrollment procedures. Just follow the link and fill out the on page form.


sources:[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm [iii] .bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm [iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm

Understand formal and informal education within its social, cultural, and linguistic contexts around the world.
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