Online International Relations degree programs provide a global view of the issues and interactions that impact and occur on the world stage. One of the key features of International Relations is its breadth. International Relations studies examine core theories, principles, and political strategies that are at play between states, non-states and organizations, such as the United Nations.
Courses often cover foreign policy, conflict, and negotiation. Or, tackle terrorism, human trafficking, and national security. With its diversity, students who pursue their international relations degree online may be prepared to pursue a variety of career options.
written by Rana Waxman
When it comes time to choose an online International Relations degree, there are many similar programs such as International Studies and International Affairs. Sometimes a university uses the terms interchangeably, but not always. To really know what a program is all about, one of the best bets is to look at a syllabus. Then, consider where your personal and professional interests lie, and select an online international relations degree that aligns with them.
The most common occupation for International Relations & Affairs majors, by number of employees, are lawyers, judges, magistrates, and judicial workers.i
International relations, or international affairs, is considered a section of political science that examines relationships among countries, the roles of sovereign states, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multinational corporations. Students may explore topics such as diplomacy and negotiation, foreign policy, global security, or international economics and trade.
International Relations is often taught as part of Political Science, although it may offer a variety of courses drawn from the social sciences. Economics, history, government, politics, and geography are several examples. Many online International Relations degree programs provide graduate students with key concepts and a grasp of the world organizations and policy debates. Students may explore major theories that could foster critical and analysis skills.
Basic courses may draw from the sample below.
International Studies (IS) is an interdisciplinary program that may also be referred to as Global Studies. Given the international scope, students may be required to be proficient in a foreign language.
Aside from that, most International Studies programs are designed to foster critical thought and analysis skills. This may be done through an examination of case studies and an in-depth look at ethics and cross-cultural studies. Coursework often draws from core topics in global issues such as literacy, peace, politics, economics, and globalization.
Also, there is often a component of ‘area studies’ where students take courses that pertain to a region. This might be the Middle-East, Europe or Asia, or another location. Also, students may be able to focus their studies around an area of emphasis, such as:
International affairs often takes on a public administration and business tone. Some online International Affairs degree programs are designed to provide students with both analytical and hands-on management skills. Along with a strong grasp of policy, students might be required to show a foreign language ability. Often too, coursework mixes economics, financial models and media with governance and public management.
A common degree awarded in this field is the Master of Arts in International Affairs (MIA). See below for some sample topics in international affairs.
Whether you travel, work full-time, or live far from a university, an online International Relations degree may make graduate school more accessible.
Online masters in International Relations programs often combine theory, principles and strategy which may foster breadth of knowledge and real-world skills. Applicants need a bachelors degree although they may come from a variety of backgrounds – business, government, or the military for instance. Many come with an interest in research, which can be a major component in their course of study.
Some online master of arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree programs entail about 33 credits, which might be completed in about 18 months of full-time study. Usually, these are divided between core courses such as world politics, U.S. foreign policy, and international security. Other issues could range from nuclear proliferation and conventional arms trade to narco-trafficking, trade imbalances, environmental conflict, and religious issues.
One way to personalize masters studies is through an area of emphasis. You may choose where you go to earn your international relations masters degree online based on whether they offer the concentration you want. These tracks require specific courses and tend to help students prepare for their masters research paper. Concentrations may include:
An online Graduate Certificate in International Relations often takes a narrow lens to one issue or theme. Many online certificate students are full-time professionals who seek a stand-alone credential for career advancement. One that has the bonus of transferable hours that might count as credit toward a graduate degree. Other students may be full-time students on track for their masters who want to add the notation of certificate completion to their transcripts. Or, post-graduate students who want to infuse their resume with new skills and know-how.
While no two programs are alike, some certificates require students to complete about 12 credits. Within them, there may be an option to choose an area of emphasis. For instance, in a Graduate Certificate in International Affairs, the choices could be on diplomacy, defense policy, intelligence, or counterterrorism.
Online PhD in International Relations programs provide research degrees that might enable graduates to pursue academic- and research-based career paths. In some schools, to be considered for admission, a bachelors degree is needed, but this does vary. Some universities may want to see an example of written work and research such as in the MAIR degree thesis.
Since they do tend to be scholarly programs, PhD students might find they engage in analysis of cross-national issues through rigorous coursework. To that end, some doctoral programs in international relations may entail about 39 credit hours of approved graduate coursework. For instance, students might start out with an international relations theory core. These courses are likely to cover comparisons between region and points of view. Other courses usually form the research methods part of the program, and could include policy analysis.
Not uncommon are field concentrations. These areas of emphasis require specific courses and help anchor the work of the final dissertation. U.S. Foreign Policy, Global Climate Change, and Security are several possibilities.
Universities that offer International Relations graduate programs online may be regionally accredited and approved by the Department of Education. Some schools could also be members of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA).
The world is largely interconnected. An online International Relations degree might help you weave together the various strands of trade, media, health, policy, and security. Aside from a grasp of regional concerns and global trends, graduates may take away new skills, whether it is the ability to manage complex projects, take part in team efforts, or perform analysis.
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