The U.S. Department of state has indicated that Virginia has distinguished itself as having an exceptional role in global affairs.
Virginia’s international relations efforts have extended to the areas of trade, humanitarian aid, education, and public health:
- Virginia has hosted over 9,400 international physicians, teachers, au pairs, and more through international exchange visitor programs, which creates and strengthens Virginia’s relationships with foreign stakeholders through face-to-face interactions.
- Virginia-based organizations Counterpart International, Project HOPE, and International Relief and Development have partnered with Operation Provide Hope to provide medical relief to vulnerable peoples in the former Soviet Union.
- Under the Business Network of the Americas International Sister Center Program, Virginia has developed unique relationships with both Brazil and Mexico.
- Virginia universities, such as the University of Virginia and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, have created unique partnership programs with universities in foreign countries, such as the University of Johannesburg and the University of Free State in South Africa.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University have partnered with the Office of global Food Security in order to develop a Feed the Future Innovation Laboratory, which provides cutting-edge research on global agriculture and food security.
Even further, the Richmond Sister Cities Commission and the Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach work to champion international relations through developing unique bonds with international stakeholders, including:
- Richmond upon Thames, England
- Saitama City, Japan
- Miyazaki, Japan
- Windhoek, Namibia
- Zhengzhou, China
- Segou, Republic of Mali
- North Down County, Northern Ireland
- Moss, Norway
These programs merely scratch the surface of Virginia’s contribution to creating strong international relations and supporting international politics, business, trade, humanitarian aid, education, and more.
Finding the Right Degree for a Career in International Relations
Bachelor’s-prepared international relations specialists are prepared to work with some of the world’s top organizations, such as the Peace Corps, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United National Development Programme (UNDP), the Red Cross, and more.
Interdisciplinary international relations programs are available online in Virginia, allowing students to obtain a degree on their own time and at their own pace.
Bachelor’s Degrees in International Relations
Students who are looking to major in international relations can choose from varying degree titles available through schools in Virginia:
- Bachelor’s in International Affairs
- Bachelor’s in International Studies
- Bachelor’s in Global Studies
- Bachelor’s in Political Science – International Relations
Because international relations is an interdisciplinary field, an international relations major will generally include the following three areas of study:
- Core courses
- Specialization courses
- Study-abroad program
Core requirements will include courses such as:
- Introduction to International Relations
- World Politics
- Cross-Cultural Communication
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
Specialized courses will depend on the specific track a student chooses. Tracks range widely, and include options such as:
- Peace and Conflict Resolution
- Global Security
- The Global Economy
- Foreign Policy
- Global inequality and Development
- Environmental Sustainability
- Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture
- Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights
- Comparative Governance
- Regional Focus
With a bachelor’s degree in international relations, professionals will be prepared to pursue jobs such as these (Taken from a survey of job announcements in Virginia in July 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):
- Security Information Analyst
- Security Coordination Officer in Kabul
- Abu Dhabi Communications Officer
- Uzbekistan Project Coordinator
- Associate Child Protection Officer
- International Journalist
An example of an international relations job in Virginia along with the job description and requirements is shown here:
Targeter/Mission Manager for Booz Allen Hamilton in McLean – Applicants to positions such as these should hold a bachelor’s degree in international relations, security studies, intelligence studies, or regional studies, and have at least eight years of experience in the intelligence community.
The professional in this position is responsible for developing expertise in identifying, analyzing, and disrupting any international organizations or networks posing threats to the United States, related to terrorism proliferation narcotics and counterintelligence.
Master’s Degrees in International Relations
International relations master’s programs are designed to prepare students for work in advanced roles in their specific field by giving them an in-depth understanding of the global condition and by preparing them to create their own cutting-edge analytical research.
To do this, master’s programs in international relations are generally comprised of:
- Core course work
- Specialization courses
- Master’s thesis
In order to enter a master’s degree program in international relations, applicants will need to meet various admissions criteria, which will consider their academic background, intellectual interests, work experience, and fit for the program.
Although the criteria differ from university to university, minimum admissions criteria generally include:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
- Hold a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work
- Complete the GRE
If eligible, students may choose from a variety of degrees and dual degrees, including:
- Master of Arts in International Relations
- Master of Arts in International Relations and Human Rights
- Master of Arts in International Relations and Political Science
- Master of Arts in International Relations and Public Policy
- Master of Arts in International Relations and International Security
- Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Regional Studies
- Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Arts in International Relations and Juris Doctor (JD)
Courses vary depending on the specific concentration:
Security and International History
- Seminar on Great Power Politics
- Federal Counterterrorism Law
- Nationalism in the Age of Globalization
- Sociology of War
International Political Science and Economy
- The Origins and Consequences of Inequality
- International Trade & Growth
- The Politics of Wealth Redistribution
- North Africa: Late Antiq-Islam
- Africa and the Slave Trade
- Colonial Autobiography
- Post-Colonial Africa
With a master’s degree, professionals are prepared for international relations jobs such as these:
- Independent Evaluation Advisor
- Political Affairs Officer
- Amman Innovation Specialist
- Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaption Project Coordinator
- El Daein, Sudan Head of the Office of Political Affairs
- Business Membership Organization Development Coordinator
- Policy and Best Practices Officer
- International Lawyer
An example job listing, which illustrates the type of work a professional can do with a master’s degree in international relations, includes (shown as an example and does not constitute a job offer):
Foreign Telecoms Risk Analyst for Centra Technology in Washington and Virginia – Applicants to positions such as these should hold a master’s degree in international affairs, national security, an MBA, or another related degree. This professional will be responsible for engaging national security decision makers on telecommunications policy issues relating to foreign affairs.
Virginia’s Contribution to International Development, Humanitarian Aid, and Security
Virginia is home to numerous government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses that work to develop and strengthen international bonds. Some of Virginia’s top contributors to international relations include organizations such as:
- Virginia National Guard – the Virginia National Guard is part of the State Partnership Program, in which individual states will form unique relationships with foreign stakeholders for military exchange and cooperation. As of 2003, Virginia has formed and strengthened a partnership with Tajikistan, creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual cooperation.
In 2015, as part of this program, Brig. Gen. Timothy Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, visited Dushanbe, Tajikistan in order to conduct leadership development and support peacekeeping operations for the United Nations.
- World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads – this council works to promote global education, understanding, and exchange through public forums through programs such as the distinguished speaker series, global issues forums, WorldQuest, the NATO Fest Program, and more.
For an example of the type of forums hosted through this council, in 2015 the distinguished speakers series hosted Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Abadi to give a lecture entitled, “The US-Iraq Relationship: Past and Future.” These types of educational exchanges promote trust and cooperation globally, and increases Virginia’s presence on the international stage.
- Richmond World Affairs Council – formed in 1996, this council holds the goal of educating Virginia residents on the importance of international issues by hosting face-to-face meetings with foreign dignitaries and Virginia residents.
Monthly forums include speakers such as Stephen B. Long from the University of Richmond, who gave the lecture, “ISIS: Regional or Global Threat.”
- Virginia Tech University Council on International Affairs (UCIA)— this council is dedicated to promoting international economic, political, social, technological, and environmental growth and development through welcoming all people to top-notch research and outreach.
- Greater Richmond Partnership – this nonprofit is constituted of a partnership between the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico. It has created international opportunities in countries such as Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Scandinavia, and more.
- World Hope International – this Alexandria-based nonprofit works in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America to promote development and humanitarian aid in each area of life. Programs include anti-trafficking, clean water and sanitation, agricultural development, educational, child sponsorship, emergency response, health and nutrition, and more.
The U.S. Department of State notes that World Hope International was awarded two $500,000 grants to establish anti-trafficking procedures in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Virginia-Based Organizations Dedicated to International Relations
Government agencies and nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to increasing Virginia’s visibility on the international stage include:
- Virginia National Guard
- Greater Richmond Partnership: International Business
- U.S. Department of State Diplomacy: Virginia
- Richmond Sister Cities Commission
- Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach
- World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads
- Richmond World Affairs Council
- University Council on International Affairs
- World Hope International