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International Studies Major

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International Studies

6,543 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
1,141 Master's Degrees Annually
#67 in Popularity
$115,300 Median Salary

Types of Degrees International Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many international studies graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 6,543
Master’s Degree 1,141
Basic Certificate 235
Graduate Certificate 69
Undergraduate Certificate 58
Associate’s Degree 49
Doctor’s Degree 2

What International Studies Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to international studies and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for International Studies Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in international studies should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Skills for International Studies Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to international studies:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for International Studies Majors

As you progress with your international studies degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a International Studies Major?

People with a international studies degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Political Scientists 2.7% $117,570

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies?

6,543 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
66% Percent Women
36% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 6,543 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international studies in 2018, making it rank #67 in popularity. This major is dominated by women with about 66% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of international studies majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of International Studies Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 615
Black or African American 343
Hispanic or Latino 1,067
White 3,459
International Students 547
Other Races/Ethnicities 512

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in International Studies. About 8.4% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India

How Much Do International Studies Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that international studies students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree made a median starting salary of $28,600 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $24,650 (25th percentile) and $33,775 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to international studies so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

The median salary for someone in a career related to international studies is $115,300. This median refers to all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an International Studies Major  115300
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with international studies require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to international studies have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 6.7%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.3%
Master’s Degree 13.3%
Doctoral Degree 73.3%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.3%

Online International Studies Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 386 schools offered some type of international studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 26 3
Certificate (1-2 years) 7 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 17 2
Bachelor’s Degree 20 3
Post-Baccalaureate 26 3
Master’s Degree 46 12
Post-Master’s 3 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in International Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a international studies grad is $115,300 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 189% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,508,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to international studies.

Major Number of Grads
Other Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 34,540
Biological & Physical Science 27,751
Interdisciplinary Studies 6,179
Nutrition Science 4,990
Behavioral Science 4,502
Natural Sciences 2,445
Cognitive Science 1,875
Sustainability Science 1,682
Gerontology 1,380
Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution 1,297
Human Computer Interaction 1,146
Human Biology 1,066
Science, Technology & Society 1,060
Mathematics & Computer Science 833
Museum Studies 778
Systems Theory 694
Computational Science 619
Dispute Resolution 583
Historic Preservation 446
Multicultural & Diversity Studies 416
Classical & Ancient Studies 315
Marine Science 243
Cultural Studies & Analysis 236
Biopsychology 158
Medieval Studies 119
Holocaust Studies 54
Accounting & Computer Science 45
Maritime Studies 15

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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