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International Relations & Security

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International Relations & Security Major

14,515 yearly degrees
#76 in popularity
$115,000 median salary

International relations and national security is a major that typically falls into the Social Sciences category.

There are 26 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in international relations, 388 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 110 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 18 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an International Relations Degree?

International relations and national security runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #50 out of all the majors we track. In 2017, about 9,800 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this major. This major is dominated by women with about 60.6% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 7.2%
  • Black or African American: 6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 14.9%
  • White: 55%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 9.4%
  • Other Races: 7.5%
International Relations & Security Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in international relations. About 9.4% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending international relations majors to the U.S. are China, South Korea and Japan.

What Will You Learn as an International Relations & Security Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to international relations 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 Relations Majors

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

Important Knowledge Areas for International Relations & Security Majors

Skills for International Relations Majors

International relations majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for International Relations & Security Majors

Abilities for International Relations Majors

As an international relations major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

Important Abilities for international relations Majors

What Can You Do With an International Relations Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with international relations:

Careers Related to International Relations & Security
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Political Scientists



Compliance Managers



Regulatory Affairs Managers



Security Managers



Political Science Professors



Investment Fund Managers



Supply Chain Managers



International Relations & Security Major Salary

International relations majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $99,000 to $116,000. 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 Relations Major  ( 99000 to 116000 )
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 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for International Relations & Security Major Jobs

Some careers associated with international relations 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.

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

Education Levels for Careers Associated With International Relations & Security
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 Relations & Security Programs

There are 388 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in international relations and national security, with 16 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 Relations & Security Major Worth It?

The median salary for an international relations 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 relations and national security 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: RepubFan12 via License

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