Pennsylvania Online International Studies Degree for a Career in International Relations

Pennsylvania’s international relations professionals play an important intermediary role between private, non-profit, and public agencies within the state and foreign nations in several key areas:

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  • Global trade – In 2013 there were 15,644 Pennsylvanian companies exporting goods to foreign markets, according to the US Department of Commerce
  • Global security – In 2013 Pennsylvania hosted 20 National Police Officers from Liberia who were training in a program sponsored by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
  • Diplomacy – Pennsylvania’s Small Business Network program recently created 11 economic and cultural partnerships through the Network of the Americas International Sister Center Program
  • International Relief – Relief agencies based in Pennsylvania responded to recent disasters such as the earthquake in Nepal and cyclone in the Philippians; last year 2,507 refugees were settled throughout Pennsylvania

International relations professionals work with these complex and multifaceted issues, forging relationships with the likes of policy makers and diplomats. They can be contrasted with international business professionals who are focused mainly on trade and finance.

Government is an important actor in the field of international relations. Government agencies in Pennsylvania that rely on skilled international relations professionals include:

  • Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers, International Operations
  • Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
  • Pennsylvania Regional Export Network
  • Northeast Pennsylvania International Business Development Program
  • Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs


Pursuing a Major in International Relations

Earning a degree in international relations is one of the best investments prospective professionals in this field can make. While a bachelor’s degree in IR is often a minimum requirement for many entry-level jobs, holding a master’s degree can sometimes be a must for leadership positions.

There are several colleges and universities located throughout Pennsylvania that offer undergraduate and graduate level international relations programs, both in the traditional classroom setting as well as through distance learning.

International relations majors have gone on to pursue careers with such agencies as:

  • The US Foreign Service
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Peace Corps
  • United Nations
  • US State Department
  • Leading colleges and universities
  • Large multinational corporations
  • Feed the Children
  • World Health Organization

Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations

A four-year bachelor’s degree in international relations starts with around two years of undergraduate courses that prepare students for core IR subjects in a progressive succession of coursework that can look like this:

General Undergraduate Courses (GURs)

  • Introduction to political science
  • Geography
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Micro and macro economics
  • World civilization
  • Critical thinking in mathematics
  • Academic report writing
  • Foreign languages
  • World religions

Core Undergraduate IR Courses

  • Comparative politics
  • Contemporary global issues
  • International political economies
  • Methods of political science
  • International law
  • Multinational organizations
  • Environmental law
  • International peace and security

Graduates that hold a bachelor’s degree in international relations go on to pursue such jobs as:

  • Research assistant with a college or university
  • Translator or interpreter
  • Grant writer with an NGO
  • Immigration analyst
  • Foreign outreach associate
  • Intelligence research associate
  • Program assistant with a non-profit organization
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Master’s Degree in International Relations

A master’s degree in international relations can be indispensable for professionals that want to pursue careers in leadership and expand their professional options. Graduates that hold a master’s degree can pursue such positions as:

  • Ambassador
  • IR specialist
  • Global program manager for a multinational corporation or humanitarian agency
  • Diplomat
  • Foreign service officer with the State Department
  • Professor of international relations
  • Senior intelligence analyst
  • Global security adviser

When selecting a graduate school in Pennsylvania it is important to research its entrance requirements. While these are unique for each school, some common standards include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field
  • GRE exam
  • Minimum GPA
  • Leadership and community involvement skills
  • Letters of recommendation

Once accepted, students can expect to study core IR graduate subjects like:

  • Global cultures and diversity
  • Policies, principles, and practices of global economics
  • US foreign policy
  • Multi-governmental relations
  • International relations theory and diplomatic protocol
  • Legal frameworks within international affairs

Many IR master’s programs will also offer students specific programs of focus for an IR specialization. Areas of specialization within an IR master’s degree program can include:

  • International Development
  • Global Security
  • Foreign Policy
  • National Security
  • Conflict Resolution
  • International Negotiation
  • Global Health
  • Comparative Political Systems


Pennsylvania’s Contribution to International Diplomacy, Trade and Humanitarian Aid

Pennsylvania’s NGOs and state government agencies have had an important impact in the realm of international relations.

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers

State-sponsored development centers are located throughout Pennsylvania, with the mission of advancing small businesses interests throughout the state, nation, and world. International relations professionals – including translators, program directors, and international trade consultants – play a vital role in this endeavor. Services and agencies involved with these development centers include:

  • US Trade and Development Agency
  • International business education programs
  • International business resources
  • Specific export guides for Panama, South Korea, and Colombia

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

Having a significant global relief agency headquartered in Akron is a boon for international relations professionals, who act in a variety of roles with this non-profit organization. MCC’s mission rests on the three legs of engaging in disaster relief, global development, and the promotion of peace. Locations where MCC operates include:

  • Afghanistan
  • North Korea
  • Central African Republic
  • Sudan
  • South Africa
  • Haiti
  • Bolivia
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Egypt

Examples of International Relations Careers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers unique opportunities for aspiring and experienced international relations professionals. The following are some examples of recent job listings taken from a survey conducted in June of 2015, and provided for illustrative purposes only:

Global Health, Safety, and Security Relationship Manager with HTH Worldwide in Radnor – This global company provides health insurance for world travelers using a network of physicians, hospitals, and advanced technologies. This manager position charges the incumbent with advancing HTH’s services worldwide.

Applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Security, or a related field.

Statistician with the US Department of Labor, Office of Field Operations in Philadelphia – This professional is responsible for data collection, processing, and analysis in the DOL’s area of operations around Philadelphia. This data is related to, and has an impact on, global labor markets and economies.

Applicants can qualify for this position by having a bachelor’s degree in a field such as International Relations, Social Sciences, Political Science, or Public Administration.

Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh – this professional instructs students regarding general as well as specific areas of international relations.

Non-tenured lecturers can qualify with a master’s degree in International Relations, while those seeking tenured tracks should invest in a doctoral degree.

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Pennsylvania’s International Relations Resources

Aspiring and practicing international relations professionals can find local resources located throughout the state:

Government Agencies

NGOs, Non-Profits, and Humanitarian Organizations

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