Best Universities for International Relations

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

If you like learning about the world’s many countries, their relationships, and the theories that undergird them, then you should consider studying international relations. At most colleges and universities, the curriculum for a major in international relations focuses on classes that teach students about the relationships of the world’s various countries. If you do not like ambiguity in your coursework, then yes, international relations may be a hard major for you. On this page, we review Best Universities For International Relations, international relations jobs, importance of international relations, international relations and diplomacy and international relations examples.

Whatever you might later focus on—be it European politics since 1945, diplomacy in the Middle East, or gender politics—International Relations relies on theoretical knowledge to explore and understand these issues. Most Bachelor programmes take three to four years. Read on to know more on Best Universities For International Relations, international relations jobs, importance of international relations, international relations and diplomacy and international relations examples.

The internet contains tons of information, so you need to be careful. Fortunately, the below information contains the most accurate and true information you can find about best universities for international relations in Europe, best universities for international relations and diplomacy & best universities for international relations UK.

Top Colleges And Universities To Study International Relations: Foreign  Policy 2018 Rankings - CEOWORLD magazine

You will also find related posts on best universities for diplomacy, best universities for international relations Australia, best country to study international relations and so much more right here on Collegelearners.

Best Universities For International Relations

We begin with Best Universities For International Relations, then international relations jobs, importance of international relations, international relations and diplomacy and international relations examples.

International Relations degrees abroad

International relations is the study of foreign policy and diplomacy between countries. It has a large focus on politics and incorporates some aspects of economics and law, giving students who study it a well-rounded understanding of global affairs.

Studying international relations abroad provides a new perspective on global issues and relationships between locations across the world.

International relations can be studied as a major in the US or in universities that use a liberal arts model, and elsewhere in the world there is the opportunity to study it as the sole subject of a bachelor’s degree, as well as at master’s (taught and research) and PhD level.

1. Best international relations schools in the world – TopUniversities Subject Rankings 2021

  • Harvard University, US – 4.6% acceptance rate
  • Sciences Po, France – 20% acceptance rate
  • University of Oxford, UK – 17.5% acceptance rate
  • Princeton University, US – 5.8% acceptance rate
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK – 8.9% acceptance rate
  • University of Cambridge, UK – 21% acceptance rate
  • Stanford University, US – 4.3% acceptance rate
  • Yale University, US – 6.1% acceptance rate
  • The Australian National University, Australia – 35% acceptance rate
  • National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore – 5% acceptance rate

2. Best international relations schools in the world – Times Higher Education Subject Rankings 2022

  • University of Oxford, UK
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US – 6.7% acceptance rate
  • Stanford University, US
  • Harvard University, US
  • Princeton University, US
  • University of California, Berkeley, US – 16.3% acceptance rate
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
  • University of Cambridge, UK 
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, US – 22.9% acceptance rate
  • The University of Chicago, US

We also recommend these universities that offer International Relations degrees:

  • T189825inn University, Estonia – 20-30% acceptance rate
  • University of Birmingham, the UK – 79% acceptance rate
  • The University of Western Australia, Australia – 38% acceptance rate
  • Masaryk University, the Czech Republic – 30-40% acceptance rate
  • Karlshochschule International University, Germany
Diplomats discussing at a table

Student reviews of the best international relations schools in the world

Below, we’ve listed several reviews from students who took courses at some of the best international relations schools worldwide. Their experience can help you understand better what’s it like to study at some of the most prestigious universities and colleges abroad.

Sciences Po

“Sciences Po is one of the best universities for political science and international relations, not only in France but also on an international scale.

The academic program is unique and challenging, the professors are highly qualified, and the campus life is well animated. The main area that needs improvement is the administration and working towards acquiring more recognition abroad.”

Yale University

“Yale is a great place to study because it fosters the interdepartmental exchange between scholars of different fields. The opportunities at Yale are immense. Support exists in every fashion. Facilities and resources are unparalleled. Definitely recommend.”

Australia National University

“Studying at ANU paved the way for numerous opportunities: I was able to join many diverse and interesting clubs (e.g. the Quidditch Society) and get involved in interesting electives – for instance, I conducted ethnographic research in Vietnam as an elective in anthropology.”

The London School of Economics and Political Science

“LSE provided me with an exhilarating opportunity to feed my intellectual curiosity and to quench my academic thirst. The research standards were excellent, and the library resources provided by the LSE were limitless.

The teaching was outstanding with leading international experts in my field of interest. I particularly appreciated being surrounded by like-minded students also eager to explore the world of academia. My experience at the LSE was overall an unforgettable one!”

international relations jobs

Now we consider international relations jobs, importance of international relations, international relations and diplomacy and international relations examples.

Work experience

It’s important to get relevant work experience to complement your degree. Volunteering can be a useful way of developing experience either in the UK or overseas.

Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the United Nations and the European Union, offer volunteering opportunities, internships and traineeships. The UN also offers a Young Professionals Programme for graduates wanting to start a career as an international civil servant.

Languages are key for a number of roles, so gaining work experience abroad, or other experience that allows you to develop language skills, can be of great benefit.

Working for a charity or non-governmental organisation (NGO) is another popular area of work and these can be good areas for volunteering or paid work experience.

If you’re interested in using your degree to work in the media, try writing for your university newspaper, blogging or writing for an online publication. For careers in other areas, such as teaching, business or law, you’ll also need relevant experience.

Typical employers

International relations graduates can work in a range of career areas in the commercial, public and charity sectors. Typical employers include:

  • banks
  • charities
  • IGOs, such as the UN, UNICEF and The World Bank
  • international businesses
  • law firms
  • local and national government
  • media companies
  • NGOs, such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

If you want to use your degree directly, consider roles with government departments such as the Department for International Trade and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Skills for your CV

By studying for a degree in international relations you’ll learn about the relationship between nations and how they connect in the world. You’ll examine how the individual culture of a nation and its politics, economics, governance, law and security impacts these relationships.

You’ll also gain skills in:

  • effective verbal and written communication – including an ability to translate complex ideas to a wide audience
  • gathering, organising and presenting information and data from a variety of sources
  • critically analysing information in order to form an argument and find possible solutions to problems or issues
  • developing intercultural and global awareness, which is of value in a global job market
  • working with others to achieve common goals through group work, group projects and group presentations
  • time management and independent study skills, as well as an ability to reflect on your learning, and ethical considerations when using and presenting information
  • using technology to research and present information and data.
  • effective verbal and written communication – including an ability to translate complex ideas to a wide audience
  • gathering, organising and presenting information and data from a variety of sources
  • critically analysing information in order to form an argument and find possible solutions to problems or issues
  • developing intercultural and global awareness, which is of value in a global job market
  • working with others to achieve common goals through group work, group projects and group presentations
  • time management and independent study skills, as well as an ability to reflect on your learning, and ethical considerations when using and presenting information
  • using technology to research and present information and data.

Further study

Some graduates choose to study for further qualifications such as a Masters degree, PhD or vocational postgraduate course. A Masters course in international relations is an option, but you can also specialise in areas such as security studies, diplomacy or global governance. Alternatively, you can focus on a specific geographical area, such as Europe, the Middle East or Asia.

Having developed a global outlook in your undergraduate studies, consider a Masters in international development, law or business. Cyber security is another option if you’re interested in technology, as this area is becoming more important in international relations.

It’s also possible to take more vocational routes into industries such as teaching, journalism or human resources, or you can do a conversion course.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in international relations.

What do international relations graduates do?

Four of the top five jobs held by international relations graduates include PR professional, marketing associate professional, business, research and administrative professional, and business and related research professional. The most popular job is public relation professional.

DestinationPercentage
Employed56.4
Further study13.1
Working and studying12
Unemployed11.8
Other6.7

Graduate destinations for international relations

Type of workPercentage
Business, HR and finance23.5
Marketing, PR and sales15.6
Retail, catering and customoer service14.1
Clerical, secretarial and administrative12.6
Other34.2

importance of international relations

More details coming up on, importance of international relations, international relations and diplomacy and international relations examples.

Why study international relations?

International relations knowledge and skills enables you to interpret and navigate global affairs, through the intricate and often subversive layer of influences. This framework effectively analyses how it impacts both developed and developing economies – and how to adapt to this. International relations imparts transferable skills in history, politics, analysis, and research.7 These skills allow you to critically interpret the contemporary world, and analyse the shifting complexities that dynamically occur in politics.

Individuals learn to be objective and analytical when considering various issues and events from multiple perspectives.8 This goes much further than only knowing history – contemporary global affairs also explores:

  • The natural environment
  • Resource scarcity
  • Technological disruption (with the threat of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics)
  • Major concerns regarding nuclear weaponry9

These skills have the potential to expand professional opportunities, and create an understanding of how and why people from homogeneous or heterogeneous groups interact with each other in specific ways. It is precisely because of global uncertainty that skills in international relations are becoming so relevant. This landscape provides exciting opportunities for innovation, growth, and partnerships. Compared to other disciplines, expanding your knowledge in the theories of international relations better positions you to understand and develop solutions to complex, global challenges.10 Studies in international relations prompt you to think of change and reform, to unify thoughts and actions – across generations and communities, among public, private, and nonprofit sectors.11

Understanding how the world has evolved is crucial for future development. Events don’t occur in isolation, as happenings in one part of the globe can have unlikely consequences in another. Globalisation has affected political, socio-economic, and cultural forces across the globe, and despite populist movements, globalisation continues to develop.12 Technology continues to defy borders, bringing diverse populations closer together. We live in an interdependent world, and gaining an understanding of this through a global lens can profoundly inform your perspective for the future.

international relations and diplomacy

International relations refers to a field of study and practice focused on understanding the unique relationships that exist between various nations and cultures. These relationships can impact everything from international politics, law, and economics to security, diplomacy, and governance.

Diplomatic relations, international negotiations, foreign-policy decision-making processes, and the conduct of foreign policy constitute important features of international politics.

This online MA programme is designed to introduce you to theories, issues and processes connected with diplomacy, foreign policy and international relations. It is especially relevant if you are thinking about, or currently working in, diplomacy, international NGOs, and global policy and politics. The course is also suitable for graduates with an academic interest in diplomacy and international relations who would like to develop knowledge and skills to pursue an academic career in research in this area.

Delivered entirely online, this distance learning course offers convenience and flexibility in terms of study time and location. It employs a wide variety of online learning tools to enhance your learning experience. Throughout the programme your studies will be comprehensively supported through recorded lectures, online discussions and group collaboration, mock negotiation exercises, web seminars and individual academic supervision. We aim to ensure that your distance learning experience is engaging and enjoyable.

Teaching staff are internationally renowned researchers with a wealth of experience and knowledge on a range of diplomacy and international relations issues. The department was first in the UK for research impact in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014).

This degree carries the same award as an on-campus programme. The Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion aims to offer the same quality of experience in its distance learning provision as we do on campus and has extensive experience of supporting distance learners.

Online learning

This MA programme consists of five taught modules and a dissertation. Each distance learning module counts for 20 credits and the dissertation counts for 80 credits. Students are assessed through formative and summative assessment including formative assignments, online participation, group project, essay, and a dissertation.

A two-week online induction programme is provided for our new distance learning students before the course starts in October. The online induction programme will introduce you to the online learning environment, available digital services and software, e-library and e-resources. It also provides an opportunity for you to meet your tutors online and start communicating with your peers.

Please contact the department if you have any questions about online learning, software, e-resources and digital services during your study, or would like to know more about the research specialisms of our teaching staff.

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant discipline.

We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.

If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.

English Language Requirements

We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.

We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 5.5 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.

If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.

Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email [email protected]

international relations examples

International relations is the study of the interaction of nation-states and non-governmental organizations in fields such as politics, economics, and security. Professionals work in academia, government, and non-profits to understand and develop cooperative exchanges between nations that benefit commerce, security, quality of life, and the environment.

Our richly connected, complex world demands professionals skilled in international relations, an exciting field of study that presents a globally oriented perspective on issues that transcend national boundaries.

The study and practice of international relations is interdisciplinary in nature, blending the fields of economics, history, and political science to examine topics such as human rights, global poverty, the environment, economics, globalization, security, global ethics, and the political environment.

Exceptional economic integration, unprecedented threats to peace and security, and an international focus on human rights and environmental protection all speak to the complexity of international relations in the twenty-first century. This means the study of international relations must focus on interdisciplinary research that addresses, anticipates, and ultimately solves public policy problems.

International relations (often referred to international affairs) has a broad purpose in contemporary society, as it seeks to understand:

  • The origins of war and the maintenance of peace
  • The nature and exercise of power within the global system
  • The changing character of state and non-state actors who participate in international decision-making

For example, some institutions may study the psychological and social-psychological reasoning behind the actions of foreign policymakers, while others may focus their international studies on the institutional processes that contribute to the goals and behaviors of states. Ultimately, the area of international relations studied depends on the goals or objectives of the organization.

The Value of International Relations in a Globalized Society

Although international relations has taken on a new significance because of our increasingly interconnected world, it is certainly not a new concept. Historically, the establishment of treaties between nations served as the earliest form of international relations.

The study and practice of international relations in today’s world is valuable for many reasons:

  • International relations promotes successful trade policies between nations.
  • International relations encourages travel related to business, tourism, and immigration, providing people with opportunities to enhance their lives.
  • International relations allows nations to cooperate with one another, pool resources, and share information as a way to face global issues that go beyond any particular country or region. Contemporary global issues include pandemics, terrorism, and the environment.
  • International relations advances human culture through cultural exchanges, diplomacy and policy development.

The practice of international relations is valuable in a wide array of settings. Some examples inlcude:

  • Humanitarian organizations
    • Action Against Hunger
    • Oxfam International
    • World Food Programme
  • Government agencies
    • Department of State
    • Department of Homeland Security
    • Department of Commerce
  • International corporations
    • General Electric
    • BP
    • Exxon Mobile
    • Toyota
    • Nestle
    • Siemens
  • Media outlets
    • BBC
    • Washington Post
    • The Guardian
    • Der Spiegal
    • New York Times
    • Forbes
    • Wall Street Journal
  • Intergovernmental organizations
    • World Trade Organization
    • United Nations
    • NATO
  • International communications
    • Amnesty International
    • Freedom House
    • Human Rights Watch
    • Reporters Without Borders
  • Research centers/Think tanks
    • Brookings Institution
    • Center for International Policy
    • Council on Foreign Relations
    • Global Public Policy Institute

The Theories and Principles of International Relations

International relations may be an offshoot of political science, but this field of study is exceptionally in-depth in its own right. As our global society evolves and expands, international relations will evolve and expand along with it as we continue to explore new and exciting way to link our complex world.

For example, traditional dimensions of international relations related to international peace and prosperity include topics such as international diplomacy, arms control, and alliance politics. Contemporary studies in international relations, on other hand, include topics such as international political economics, environmental politics, refugee and migration issues, and human rights.

Examining the Levels of State Behavior

Professionals studying international relations often determine the level at which they will analyze a state’s behavior:

  • System Level Analysis: System level analysis looks at the international system; more specifically, how the international system affects the behavior of nation states, with the key variable being that the international system includes the power of each state rather than being independent of them.
  • State Level Analysis: State level analysis examines how a state’s characteristics determine its foreign policy behavior. This type of analysis often views states as having cultural characteristics based on their religious or social traditions, and their historical legacy, and includes an analysis of economic and geographic factors.
  • Organizational Level Analysis: Organizational level analysis examines how organizations within a state influence the state’s foreign policy behavior. In other words, organizational level analysis views that organizations—not states—make the decisions that create a state’s foreign policy.
  • Individual Level Analysis: Individual level analysis views the leaders of states as being the largest influencers of foreign policy.

Examining the Theories of International Relations

The study of international relations involves theoretical approaches based on solid evidence. Theories of international relations are essentially a set of ideas aimed at explaining how the international system works.

The two, major theories of international relations are realism and liberalism:

Realism

Realism focuses on the notion that states work to increase their own power relative to other states. The theory of realism states that the only certainty in the world is power; therefore, a powerful state—via military power (the most important and reliable form of power)—will always be able to outlast its weaker competitors. Self-preservation is a major theme in realism, as states must always seek power to protect themselves.

In realism, the international system drives states to use military force. Although leaders may be moral, they must not let morality guide their foreign policy. Furthermore, realism recognizes that international organizations and law have no power and force, and that their existence relies solely on being recognized and accepted by select states.

Liberalism (Idealism)

Liberalism recognizes that states share broad ties, thus making it difficult to define singular independent national interests. The theory of liberalism in international relations therefore involves the decreased use of military power. The theory of liberalism saw its first strong post-WWII emergence in the 1970s as increasing globalization, communications technology, and international trade made some scholars argue that realism was outdated.

Liberal approaches to the study of international relations, also referred to as theories of complex interdependence, claim that the consequences of military power outweigh the benefits and that international cooperation is in the interest of every state. It also claims that exercising economic power over military power has proven more effective.

Although the liberal theory of international relations was dominant following World War I while President Woodrow Wilson promoted the League of Nations and many treaties abolishing war, realism came back into prominence in the Second World War and continued throughout the Cold War.

If you enjoy learning about the many countries of the world, their relationships, and the theories that undergird them, then you should consider studying international relations. This curriculum at most colleges and universities focuses on classes that teach students about the relationships of the world’s various countries. If ambiguity in your coursework is not for you, then yes, international relations may be a hard major for you.


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