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Top Universities for International Relations in 2022-2023

May 5, 2022

Best International Relations Universities and Programs in the World

About International Relations

International relations, often known as international studies or international affairs, is the scientific study of how countries interact and perceive one another, particularly in the context of political, economic, and cultural relationships. It is a dynamic field that deals with anything from international trade to global health catastrophes like the Covid-19 outbreak that we are currently dealing with. As the world grows more interconnected, the concept of international relations becomes more relevant. As a result, the need for specialists in the field has grown.

The field of international relations is a part of social sciences and is ideal for those interested in learning about the relationships between different countries. The following article analyzes the top international relations universities, as well as the array of degrees they provide, typical salaries, and employment options in the field.

Duties Performed by International Relations Specialists

International relations, as the sub-discipline of social science, connects a variety of subjects such as economics, politics, philosophy, history, business, linguistics, religious studies, and law. International relations experts are frequently active in studying global issues such as poverty, world hunger, human rights, and ethics and attempt to discover solutions through interdisciplinary research. Some of the basic responsibilities of international relations experts include:

  • Creating international policies and forecasting trends
  • Interpreting and analyzing foreign policies
  • Working with international organizations
  • Communication with government officials, international organizations (both governmental and non-governmental), and the general public
  • Providing professional advice on foreign policies
  • Interacting with the media and journalists about foreign policies and activities
  • Conducting international collaborative programs and activities
  • Sharing research through publications and reports
  • Keeping abreast with new developments in the field of international relations

Popular degrees for pursuing a career in International Relations

Students can study international relations as an undergraduate, post-graduate or a doctoral degree. Depending on the university, other degree alternatives such as an associate degree, dual-degree, and online degrees are also available. Students opting for an undergraduate in history, sociology, political science, and cultural anthropology can also take up international relations as a specialization at the postgraduate level. 

Bachelor’s programs

Bachelor’s degrees in international relations can be earned as either a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or a bachelor of science (B.S./B.Sc.) degree.

  • B.A. in International Relations
  • B.S. in International Studies
  • B.Sc. in Politics and International Relations 
  • B.A. in International Studies 
  • B.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations
  • B.Sc. in International Relations and Law
  • B.A. in International Relations with Languages 
  • B.Sc. in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies
  • L.L.B. in Law with International Relations

Master’s programs

Master’s degrees in international relations are available at universities across the world as either a master of arts (M.A.) or a master of science (M.S./M.Sc.) degree.

  • M.A. in International Relations
  • M.S. in Political Science: International Relations/Comparative Government 
  • M.Sc. in Global Studies and International Relations  
  • M.Sc. in International Trade Relations
  • Global History and International Relations
  • International Relations & International Organization
  • International Affairs
  • Intercultural Conflict Management
  • MSc in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Doctoral programs

Students who are interested in gaining greater depth of knowledge in a specific area of international relations usually opt for a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. is also required to become a professor or lecturer. 

  • P.h.D in International Economics
  • P.h.D in Political Science
  • P.h.D in International Conflict Analysis
  • P.h.D in International Affairs
  • P.h.D in Globalization and Development
  • P.h.D in International and Diplomatic Studies

Specializations in International Relations

As political ties, communications, and collaborations are becoming more crucial, it is no surprise that graduates in the field of international relations are in higher demand. Considering this demand, top universities around the world are offering a lot of specializations in this area of study. Common topics and specializations in international relations include:  

  • Foreign policy
  • Conflict and peace-making
  • Environmental policy
  • Human rights
  • Trade and financial regulations
  • International law
  • Global history 
  • International security
  • Diplomacy
  • Migration and refugees

Duration of programs in International Relations

An associate’s degree in international relations, which lasts for two years, can help students get jobs faster, but it isn’t the best way to acquire a better income. Students typically pursue a three-to four-year B.A. in international relations or related disciplines, followed by a two-year degree master’s degree. Students who want to work in high-level administrative or executive positions pursue terminal degrees, such as a Ph.D., that can last anywhere from four to seven years.

Country Associate Degree Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree Doctoral Degree
USA and Canada 2 years  4 years 2 years 4-7 years
UK 2 years 3-4 years 1-2 years 4-6 years
Australia 2 years 3-4 years 1-2 years 4-6 years
Others 2 years 3-4 years 1-2 years 4-6 years

Career opportunities in International Relations

As international relations specialists, students will have a broad set of career options in addition to politics, including in fields like economics, social systems, and the cultural life of communities. But, to secure a meaningful position in the field of international relations, a master’s or a P.h.D is highly recommended. The following are some popular employment opportunities in international relations:

  • Diplomat 
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Policy officer
  • Political analyst
  • Lobbyist 
  • Communication specialist 
  • Risk manager
  • Solicitor
  • International lawyer 
  • Immigration specialist
  • International marketing manager

Average salaries of International Relations Specialists

The typical employers that hire international relations specialists are: inter-governmental and multilateral organizations (UN agencies, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum), banks, charities, law firms, media companies and publishing houses. The below table lists average, high and low salaries that are given to international relations specialists in major counties. 

Country Lowest salary in USD*/year Average salary in USD*/year Highest salary in USD*/year
USA (Source: Talent) 46,166 70,700 134,772
Australia (Source: Glassdoor) 50,135 53,715 57,268
Canada (Source: Glassdoor) 27,494 47,491 81,697
UK (Source: Glassdoor) 28,885 47,476 79,119

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Top 50 universities in the world for International Relations based on world rankings

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
1 4 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA Click Here Click Here
2 7 1 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
3 2 4 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
3 3 5 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
5 1 2 Harvard University USA Click Here Click Here
8 17 18 University College London UK Click Here Click Here
8 21 15 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
10 10 10 University of Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
13 15 13 University of Pennsylvania USA Click Here Click Here
14 11 9 Yale University USA Click Here Click Here
19 8 11 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
20 6 7 Princeton University USA Click Here Click Here
21 12 22 Cornell University USA Click Here Click Here
23 26 24 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor USA Click Here Click Here
25 16 13 Johns Hopkins University USA Click Here Click Here
26 22 18 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 67 44 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
27 76 54 Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
32 5 8 University of California – Berkeley USA Click Here Click Here
35 47 35 King’s College London UK Click Here Click Here
37 33 33 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
40 14 20 University of California – Los Angeles USA Click Here Click Here
46 42 37 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
47 51 54 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here
48 18 34 University of California-San Diego USA Click Here Click Here
49 151-200 27 London School of Economics and Political Science UK Click Here Click Here
61 101-150 78 University of Warwick UK Click Here Click Here
62 78 92 University of Bristol UK Click Here Click Here
67 41 47 University of Texas at Austin USA Click Here Click Here
70 54 75 University of Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
79 30 96 University of Copenhagen Denmark Click Here Click Here
85 19 29 University of Washington – Seattle USA Click Here Click Here
90 101-150 105 University of Birmingham UK Click Here Click Here
92 101-150 127 University of Leeds UK Click Here Click Here
102 61 119 University of Oslo Norway Click Here Click Here
103 101-150 141 University of Nottingham UK Click Here Click Here
105 60 197 University of Geneva Switzerland Click Here Click Here
120 101-150 85 Ohio State University USA Click Here Click Here
186 40 86 University of Minnesota – Twin Cities USA Click Here Click Here
198 90 301-350 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel Click Here Click Here
216 101-150 132 Arizona State University – Tempe USA Click Here Click Here
226 151-200 151 University of Sussex UK Click Here Click Here
230 201-300 162 University of Ottawa Canada Click Here Click Here
290 201-300 201-250 Griffith University Australia Click Here Click Here
311 101-150 167 Indiana University – Bloomington USA Click Here Click Here
355 301-400 201-250 George Washington University USA Click Here Click Here
383 501-600 351-400 University of Kent UK Click Here Click Here
494 301-400 401-500 York University Canada Click Here Click Here
541-500 901-1000 501-600 Aberystwyth University UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the USA for International Relations

As a superpower, the USA places considerable emphasis on maintaining good international relations with other nations in order to foster stability, economic growth, and worldwide security. Therefore international relations is one of the best courses to study in the USA. Furthermore, it is one of the highest-paying countries for international relations experts. Students can opt for doctoral and master’s degrees in international relations from the USA’s top universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, etc. This will improve their prospects of finding work at international organizations based in the USA, such as the United Nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Even bachelor’s degrees in international relations from American universities are easily employable and pay handsomely.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
1 4 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA Click Here Click Here
3 2 4 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
5 1 2 Harvard University USA Click Here Click Here
10 10 10 University of Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
13 15 13 University of Pennsylvania USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the UK for International Relations

Many aspiring international relations professionals and those in related fields choose to study in the UK at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, such as the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, and London School of Economics and Political Science. These top universities offer a wide range of master’s specializations in international relations. The department of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science is 94 years old is one of the largest in the world and attracts a lot of international students every year. The UK universities also offer bachelor’s degrees in international relations and relevant fields. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
2 7 1 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
3 3 5 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
8 17 18 University College London UK Click Here Click Here
35 47 35 King’s College London UK Click Here Click Here
49 151-200 27 London School of Economics and Political Science UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Canada for International Relations

Canadian universities are famous for offering fully-funded scholarships which can fund education all through. This makes Canada the best place to study for international students. Students can apply for a variety of scholarship programs offered by the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and others that run master’s courses in international relations. Plus there are a lot of options too for students wanting to pursue bachelor’s courses in international relations.  

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
26 22 18 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 67 44 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
46 42 37 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
230 201-300 162 University of Ottawa Canada Click Here Click Here
494 301-400 401-500 York University Canada Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Australia for International Relations

Australia is a leading economic nation and a major humanitarian aid provider, with a strong emphasis on maintaining and strengthening stable international relations. A lot of Australian universities offer a variety of master’s and bachelor’s courses in international relations. Students can study in Australia, and do their majors or specializations in international relations based on their areas of interest. The following are some of the popular master’s courses in international relations offered by Australian universities:

  • International Relations
  • International Relations and National Security
  • International diplomacy and trade
  • International Development
QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
37 33 33 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
290 201-300 201-250 Griffith University Australia Click Here Click Here
27 76 54 Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
47 51 54 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Switzerland for International Relations

Surprisingly, Switzerland, a small country in Central Europe, ranks high among universities that offer doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in international relations. The Geneva Convention was signed in Switzerland, and several international political and economic institutions, such as the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization, are headquartered there. Students with master’s degrees in international relations will have a lot of opportunities to work for such organizations. Therefore, a lot of international students interested in making a career in international relations choose to study in Switzerland. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
8 21 15 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
70 54 75 University of Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
105 60 197 University of Geneva Switzerland Click Here Click Here

Academic requirements for studying International Relations

Getting admitted to a foreign university to pursue a degree in international relations is not an easy task. International relations is a more hands-on learning technique in which students learn via experience rather than by reading about it in books. Hence, students should obtain relevant work experience in addition to their degrees. They should ensure that the degree type and university they choose match their academic or career goals before making a decision. Students should also ensure that the university they choose has received accreditation from the appropriate accrediting authorities in their state or country. The following are the general academic requirements expected by top universities offering courses in international relations. 

Bachelor’s level

  • A high school education with a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letter
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Master’s level

  • A bachelor’s degree in international relations or relevant fields with a GPA of 3.0 or greater on a 4.0 scale
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Work experience (highly recommended) 
  • Research publications 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Doctoral level

  • Honours or master’s degree in international relations or a relevant field with a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) 
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Work experience (highly recommended) 
  • Research publications
  • Personal interview 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there is a growing demand for specialists with knowledge of international relations to handle global concerns in our ever-changing economy, such as wars, nuclear weapons, and terrorism, which are all spreading like contagious cancer and killing millions.

Universities in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway offer the best education in international relations.

A diplomat is a government official charged with establishing and maintaining political, economic, and social ties with other countries.

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