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International Studies

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International Studies Major

7,735 yearly degrees
#117 in popularity
$115,000 median salary

International studies is a major that typically falls into the Multi / Interdisciplinary Studies category.

There are 17 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in international studies, 328 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 46 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 2 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an International Studies Degree?

International studies runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #68 out of all the majors we track. In 2017, about 6,100 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this major. The major attracts more women than men. About 66% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 9.4%
  • Black or African American: 5.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 16.3%
  • White: 52.9%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 8.4%
  • Other Races: 7.8%
International Studies Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in international studies. About 8.4% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending international studies majors to the U.S. are China, South Korea and Japan.

What Will You Learn as an International Studies Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to international studies to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for International Studies Majors

A major in international studies should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for International Studies Majors

Skills for International Studies Majors

A major in international studies prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for International Studies Majors

Abilities for International Studies Majors

A major in international studies will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for international studies Majors

What Can You Do With an International Studies Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with international studies:

Careers Related to International Studies
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Political Scientists



International Studies Major Salary

International studies majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $115,000 to $115,000. This range includes 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, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for an International Studies Major  ( 115000 to 115000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for International Studies Major Jobs

Some careers associated with international studies may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. 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.

Find out what the typical degree level is for international studies careers below.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With International Studies
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online International Studies Programs

There are 328 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in international studies, with 13 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is an International Studies Major Worth It?

The median salary for an international studies grad is $115,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 196% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,528,000 after 20 years!

international studies salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Yerpo via License

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