International Relations Scholarships

Your Guide to International Relations Undergrad and Master’s Degree Scholarships

International relations covers more than most people realize. In the farthest reaches of space where lonely unmanned probes crawl through the void, they do so under the auspices of something known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

Although it was negotiated in 1967, it’s only one of thousands of treaties on the books that require expertise to administer and amend even today.

International relations is an ancient and constantly evolving field that rests on principles from the 1600’s, but that still has to address the most modern challenges. As you might expect, people hoping to work on those big questions need to come prepared with an education of similarly large scope.

Degrees in the field aren’t cheap. The best schools can charge upwards of $40,000 for a bachelor’s degree in the field, and master’s programs can easily be that much again. That’s before you start adding up the associated costs, the money it takes to study abroad and to gain real fluency in foreign languages—skills every employer is looking for, but that a degree will only provide an introduction to.

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The good news is that there are some very lucrative scholarship offerings for international relations studies. In a field this important, both private institutions and governments have seen the wisdom of investing in future students. If you can show them you’re worth it, you’ll have no problem finding some help picking up the tab.

How to Qualify for a Scholarship in International Relations

Although many international relations scholarships for both bachelor’s and master’s programs are quite generous, they don’t hand them out to just anyone. As a scholarship candidate, you need to think of yourself and the skills you’ll be bringing to the field as an investment, and you need to prove that you’re going to be worth investing in.

Academic Credentials

You’ll primarily be assessed on the basis of your grades and academic achievements. Almost all scholarships have high GPA and SAT score requirements even to apply. In many cases, you’ll need to bring more to the table than that. Many awards committees ask for evidence like:

  • Additional extracurricular work
  • Capstone projects
  • Internships
  • Volunteer experience

You may also need to show some kind of commitment to the field itself. For the Women in Defense Horizon’s Scholarship, for example, you’re asked to demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career related to national security or defense.

Group Membership

Horizon’s Scholarship also illustrates another common criteria category: gender or race can be important to scholarships designed to encourage entry into the field from historically underrepresented groups.

In some cases, the school you attend can be an important factor when it comes to which scholarships you qualify for. IES Abroad, a non-profit that funds scholarships for students interested in spending a semester overseas, offers needs-based scholarships of up to $5,000 per semester… but only to students attending schools that are members of their IES Abroad Consortium. The school also has to have a policy of allocating at least 75 percent of their own institutional aid for study abroad… criteria designed to further the IES mission to promote global leadership through experiential learning throughout the world.

Other Common Criteria

For some packages, particularly those offered by the government (and even more particularly those offered by secretive three-letter agencies), you’ll have to pass drug tests and intensive background checks. These are more common where internships working with sensitive information are involved.

You’ll often have to provide a statement of intent or objectives or an essay on a topic approved by the award committee. Recommendations may be required and are almost always helpful.

Some foreign relations scholarships are quite specific in what they intend to cover. For the Marshall Scholarship program, for instance, you’ll need to be planning to study in England specifically in order to qualify.

Your Best Bets for Finding a Scholarship in International Relations

You have a lot of choices for scholarships at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, but your first step should be to check and make sure you are only applying to those that can be used for the degree you are currently pursuing.

One of the great things about many international studies scholarships is that they involve more than just money. They often boost your career and study opportunities through fellowships or overseas education opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

Non-Profit Organizations

A variety of non-profit organizations with various missions related to international studies provide a wealth of scholarship opportunities. These are often some of the smallest awards, but among the easiest to get.

IES is one of the best examples. Founded in 1950, IES Abroad today distributes more than $5 million in scholarship and financial aid funds to individuals in a variety of fields who are interested in studying overseas. Their scholarships are not limited to international relations students, but they have a number of options that fit perfectly for undergraduate international studies students.

But the money isn’t all of it. IES also serves as coordinator for your application and accommodations overseas, smoothing the way through complicated foreign education requirements… a benefit that is hard to measure in purely financial terms, but very real all the same.

Larger philanthropic organizations also offer financial assistance, such as the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows program funded by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Graduate students from participating universities can receive almost $40,000 plus benefits during the one-year fellowship program, rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest minds in international relations the whole time.

Non-profits are not all patchouli and sunflowers, though. The Horizons defense scholarship, noted above, is offered by the National Defense Industrial Association, a non-profit promoting education in national security fields. Any organization with an interest in international trade or interactions is a possible candidate for scholarships… don’t be afraid to ask.

Government Programs

As one of the biggest employers of international studies graduates, the U.S. Government has not been slow to offer scholarships at all levels. These are often combined with internships that offer valuable practical work experience along with the formal education. An excellent example is the CIA Undergraduate Scholarship Program (a graduate-level program also exists). Accepted applicants who demonstrate financial need and meet minimum academic requirements can receive tuition assistance up to $18,000 per calendar year, as well as two summer internships at the agency.

The famed Fulbright Scholarship program is a flagship of government funding for overseas educational opportunities. More than 3,600 candidates are nominated every year for 1,900 available grants funding research or study in 140 foreign countries. More than 360,000 graduates, many of them going on to careers in international relations, have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.

Some of the best scholarships are offered as cooperative programs between government and either universities or non-profit organizations. The Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program, a $90,000 graduate scholarship that includes internships and professional development activities, is a cooperative effort between USAID and Howard University.


Universities themselves should not be overlooked as a source of scholarship funds. Many universities have general scholarships available for attendees based on financial need. Others may have additional funding grants made available via endowments to their international studies or political science departments, such as the Robert C. Frasure Memorial Scholarship in International Affairs at the University of West Virginia.

In any case, the university’s financial aid department is a terrific resource to help you find every scholarship program you are eligible for, as well as providing you with assistance in meeting the requirements. For example, the department can often help you arrange for letters of recommendation or in assembling your transcripts and other qualifying documentation from official sources.

Fellowships and Scholarships for International Relations Programs and Degrees

As an international relations scholar, you have made it your business to address such critical issues as global security, sustainable development, human rights, international law, and humanitarian aid.

Because of the growing need for international relations scholars and advocates, private donors, non-governmental organizations and universities have made scholarships and fellowships for students like you more available than ever before. However, sifting through hundreds of scholarships to find the ones that are applicable to you can be a job all by itself.

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Here at we’ve taken the time to select the most accessible international relations scholarships available as a way to support you in your decision to pursue a degree in this important area of study.

Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate student, or post-graduate scholar, you can advance your education with financial assistance from organizations committed to the same ideals as you.

Undergraduate Scholarships

Central Intelligence Agency Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Benefits: Up to $18,000 per calendar year, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement


  • Must be a US citizen
  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Must achieve 1500 on the SAT or a 21 on the ACT
  • Must maintain full-time status
  • Must maintain 3.0 GPA
  • Must demonstrate financial need

Details: Preference will be given to minority and disabled students, but all students may apply. Recipients will be required to work at an Agency facility during summer breaks, and after graduation they will work for 1.5 times the amount of time that scholarship support was received.

Boren Undergraduate Scholarships

Benefits: $8,000-$20,000


  • Must be US citizen
  • Must be an undergraduate student
  • Must be enrolled in an international studies program
  • Must be focusing on research that promotes US security, by addressing the issues of a global society, such as sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, economic competitiveness, or migration

Details: Boren scholarships promote linguistic and cultural immersion that focus on promoting national security.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Benefits: Up to $8,000


  • Must be US citizen
  • Must be an undergraduate student
  • Must be receiving the Federal Pell Grant
  • Must be applying to or accepted to a study abroad internship or program

Details: Bonus scholarship money will be given to students studying critical languages, such as Japanese, Turkic, Persian, Arabic, and more.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellows Program

Benefits: $37,000 per year plus full benefits


  • Must be a graduating senior or a student who has graduated within the last year
  • Must be enrolled in an international studies program at a participating school
  • Must be willing to take a year-long project in a foreign nation in democracy, nuclear policy, energy and climate, middle east studies, and more, in order to increase engagement and cooperation between nations

Details: Apply through participating schools.

Frederick Douglass Scholarship Program

Benefits: Full tuition plus room and board


  • The most competitive applicants will have a 3.3 GPA or higher
  • Should have a 26 on the ACT
  • Must be dedicated to studying and promoting social justice

Details: Preference will be given to economic and racial minorities and first-generation scholars.

West Virginia State University’s Department of Political Science Scholarships

These scholarships are available to all of the Department’s majors, including Pre-Law Studies, American Politics, and International Relations. Scholarships include, but are not limited to:

  • Peter S. Borsay Memorial Scholarship
  • E. Chilton III Scholarship
  • James F. Dent Scholarship

Benefits: vary depending on scholarship


  • Must be enrolled as a student at West Virginia State University
  • Must be enrolled in a major with the department of Political Science

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

Benefits: $30,000


  • Must be a full-time student
  • Must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree
  • Must be at junior-level academic standing
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Must have graduate and career interests in being an agent of change in government, nonprofit, or education
  • Must have an interest in the conditions of society, public interest, advocacy, etc.
  • Must want to pursue a master’s degree or doctorate in international affairs, education, public administration, or another related field

Details: Recipients must commit to work in public service for three of the first seven years after they complete a Foundation-funded graduate degree.

DAAD German Studies Research Grant

Benefits: $1,500-$3,000


  • Must be enrolled in undergraduate degree
  • Must be at least a junior in standing
  • Must be pursing a German studies track or minor

Details: This program is designed to encourage and promote the scholarly study of cultural, political, historical, economics, and social aspects of German affairs from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest

Benefits: $1,500-$5,000


  • Must be a full-time Junior or Senior
  • Must ben enrolled at an accredited four-year university
  • Must submit essay considering an ethical issues

Details: Preference will be given to the most articulate, well-thought-out responses to ethical issues, such as international solidarity, environmental sustainability, and more.

Graduate Scholarships

Central Intelligence Agency Graduate Scholarship Program

Benefits: Up to $18,000 per calendar year, plus an annual salary, optional benefits, and retirement


  • Must be entering first or second year of graduate studies
  • Must be willing to work at an Agency facility in Washington D.C. for at least 60-90 days before graduation
  • Must maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Must agree to work for an Agency for 1.5 times the length of time scholarship money was received
  • Must demonstrate financial need

Details: Preference will be given to disabled and minority students; however, all students may apply. Preference may be given to scholars looking to gain fluency in critical languages, such as Arabic, Pashto, Persian, Russian, and more.

Boren Graduate Fellowships

Benefits: Up to $30,000


  • Must be US citizen
  • Must be graduate student
  • Must be enrolled in an international studies program
  • Must be pursuing the addition of a language component to their graduate education
  • Must be focusing on research that promotes US security, by addressing the issues of a global society, such as sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, economic competitiveness, or migration

Details: Boren fellowships support research in areas of the world that are critical to US international relations, including Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Eurasia, and more.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Public Policy Fellowship

Benefits: $2,400 per month


  • Must have earned a bachelor’s degree within two years of start date
  • Must have maintained 3.0 GPA
  • Must demonstrate commitment to public service-oriented activities
  • Must be dedicated to working a minimum of 32 hours per week at placement site

Details: Open to students enrolled in graduate studies, as well. This scholarships is focused on giving Hispanic students hands-on experience in the public policy area of their choice.

Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership’s Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) scholarship 

Benefits: $23,000 per year


  • Must be enrolled in a master’s program directly related to sustainable energy development
  • Must be in the top 20% of their class
  • Must be committed to sustainable energy in developing countries

Details: International affairs majors with an emphasis in development or sustainable development may be preferred.

Marshall Scholarship

Benefits: 1-3 year scholarships up to full tuition


  • Must be a US citizen
  • Must hold undergraduate degree from a four-year, accredited institution
  • Must have a 3.7 GPA
  • Must not have a degree from a British university
  • Must plan to attend a UK Institution for a graduate degree

Details: Preference will go to high-achieving young scholars who have an interest and commitment to improving UK-US relations.

University for Peace Scholarships

Benefits: Up to 50% tuition assistance


  • Must be a professor from a partner university


  • Must be a Costa Rican citizen


  • Must be a United Nations employee


  • Must be a documented refugee

Beinecke Scholarship Program

Benefits: Up to $34,000


  • Must be pursuing a graduate degree in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
  • Must demonstrate exceptional promise
  • Must be nominated by university
  • Must be a full-time student
  • Must utilize all funding within five years

Details: Scholarships are awarded to graduate students of all arts, humanities, and social science disciplines at participating schools.

Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University Fellowship

Benefits: Up to $15,000


  • Must be an IHS alumni
  • Must be a full-time graduate student at an accredited university anywhere in the world
  • Must be pursuing a graduate degree in a field that promotes the ideals of a free society, such as international relations, law, political science, and more

Details: Fellowships must be reapplied for each year, and they take into account the tuition of the recipient’s university.

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s (AvH) German Chancellor Fellowship

Benefits: Up to 2,750 euros per month depending on qualifications


  • Must be an emerging US leader (or leader from Brazil, China, India, or Russia)
  • Must plan to work in politics, economics, the media, administration, or culture
  • Must be interested in spending a year working on a project in Germany

Details: This is a project-based scholarship that is awarded to scholars who wish to pursue a particular project for a year in Germany, working underneath the mentorship of another scholar.

American Councils Title VIII Research Scholar Program

Benefits: $5,000-$25,000


  • Must be a graduate student
  • Must seek to conduct in-country, independent research for three to nine consecutive months
  • Must conduct research in Central Asia, Moldova, Russia, South Caucasus, Southeast Europe, or Ukraine

Details: Preference will be given to the research of US policy and to scholars who seek to better understand a particular region, formulating effective policies within it. International relations, political science, and history students will be given preference.

East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowship

Benefits: Substantial funding toward education and living expenses


  • Must be enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Hawai’i
  • Must be permanent citizen of the US
  • Must be interested in international or intercultural degree programs

Details: Degree study, plus participating in the Center’s international and intercultural programs, will be a necessity for recipients.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Benefits: one year of academic study


  • Must be at post-baccalaureate or graduate level
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Must have sufficient language proficiency to carry out research in host country

Details: May use scholarship for project research or for the completion of a graduate degree.

Scholarships Available to Both Undergraduates and Graduate Students

Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) Scholarships

Benefits: $1,200-$4,000


  • Must be an undergraduate in sophomore or junior year, OR graduate student in no later than second year of study
  • Must be US citizens
  • Must be pursuing a degree in intelligence, national security, international security, or international relations with a focus on intelligence and security

Details: Preference may be given to students who know critical languages, such as Russian, Pashtu, Dari, Korean, etc.

American Jewish Committee’s Goldman Fellowship Program

Benefits: $3,000 plus travel expenses


  • Must be undergraduate in junior or senior year OR gradate students
  • Must be excited to engage in the world through a Jewish lens
  • Must have a passion for making a difference
  • Must be interested in exploring the American Jewish identity

Details: This scholarship is designed to develop future leaders in international and domestic politics, diplomacy, public relations, and management. Research may span the recipient’s interests—from international affairs an diplomacy to interethnic relations and nonprofit management.

Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation: Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship

Benefits: up to $37,000


  • Must be a junior enrolled in a bachelor’s degree
  • Must be planning to enroll in a two-year Master’s degree in Foreign Service upon graduation
  • Must be enrolled in U.S.-based academic institution
  • Must hold a 3.2 GPA


  • Must be enrolled in a two-year, full-time master’s program in international affairs, public policy, public administration, or another related field
  • Must have a 3.2 GPA

Details: Preference will be given to applicants who plan to work in the U.S. Department of State.

Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program

Benefits: up to $47,000 annually


  • Must be a gradate student pursing an international relations degree
  • Must be an undergraduate student pursuing an international relations degree
  • Must demonstrate financial need

Details: Collaborative effort between Howard University and the U.S. State Department to fund graduates and undergraduates who are preparing to for careers as diplomats in the U.S. Department of State.

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

Benefits: up to $10,000 per year


  • Must demonstrate need
  • Must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program
  • Must be enrolled in a program focused on international solidarity or other issues of peace and justice

Details: This fund was created for students who are actively working to promote peace and justice.

Post-Graduate Continuing Scholarship and Research

Alfa Fellowship Program

Benefits: monthly stipend, accommodation, insurance, all program related costs, language training, and private tutoring


  • Must have a bachelor’s degree and 5-6 years of professional experience or a master’s degree and 2 years of professional experience
  • Must be a US, UK, or German citizen between 25 and 35
  • Must have a gradate degree in business, economics, law, public policy, or a related field
  • Preference will be given to scholars who have Russian language experience

Details: Must desire to participate in professional-level initiatives in Russia to develop greater intercultural understanding and advance US-Russia/UK-Russia/German-Russian relations.

Abe Fellowship

Benefits: three to twelve months of full-time support


  • Must be a committed academic dedicated to international research
  • Must have a PhD or terminal degree in field
  • Must propose research project that addresses key policy issues
  • Must reflect nonpartisan positions

Details: Must be dedicated to researching international security, international growth and sustainable development, cultural trends and transformation, or international governance, empowerment, and participation.

USAID Democracy Fellows Program

Benefits: Salary plus benefits


  • Must have an advanced degree in a related field (MA, PhD, JD)
  • Must be a US citizen or permanent resident

Details: This position is for advanced scholars who want practical, hands-on work with USAID with issues such as democracy, human rights, and governance.

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