Despite its small size, the State of West Virginia plays a large role on the international stage. In fact, during the 2011-2012 academic year, West Virginia University was the #1 ranked university across the national with the highest number of enrolled foreign students.
The U.S. Department of State notes just a few of the many ways in which West Virginia businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies are vitally involved in international affairs, such as:
- West Virginia has hosted over 1,100 foreign doctors, professors, au pairs, and more through international cultural exchange programs, which facilitates trust through face-to-face interactions.
- Sixty-one Brazilian students studied in West Virginia universities as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, which facilitates an international community of scholarship.
- In 2012, twenty-seven West Virginia families adopted international children, aiding in humanitarian work across the world.
Finally, West Virginia’s cities are involved heavily in building and strengthening international alliances through establishing sister city relationships, which foster an environment of trust and cooperation.
For example, Charleston and Morgantown have sister city relationships with international stakeholders, such as:
- Guanajuato, Mexico
- Xuzhou, China
- Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
These programs only scratch the surface of West Virginia’s involvement in developing international relations through trade, humanitarian aid, education, and more.
Choosing the Right Degree for an International Relations Career in West Virginia
Many students who want to get involved in international relations in West Virginia—whether through government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private businesses—begin with earning an international relations degree.
Internationals relations degrees are interdisciplinary, meaning students can focus on any international discipline, such as law, security, translation, journalism, politics, and more.
Finally, many universities offer online international studies degrees, allowing students to major in international relations despite geographical barriers.
Finding the Right Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations
International relations majors come in varying degree titles, such as:
- Bachelor’s in International Studies
- Bachelor’s in International Affairs
- Bachelor’s in International Development
Generally, an international relations degree consists of four components, including:
- General Education Courses
- Introductory Core Courses
- Area of Emphasis Courses
- Capstone Study Abroad Experience
Students who pursue this interdisciplinary major in international studies will be able to choose from among a wide variety of specializations, including, but not limited to:
- Political Science
- Comparative Politics
- Intelligence and National Security
- Regional Tracks (Africa, The Middle East, Americas, East Asia, etc.)
- International Business
- Diplomacy and International Security
- International Development
- International Environment
Depending on which specialization students choose, they are trained to enter international relations fields such as global marketing, human rights advocacy, and more.
Specific examples of international relations jobs that may require applicants to hold bachelor’s degrees international relations include:
- International Journalist
- Foreign Service Facility Manager
- S. Diplomat
- International Program Officer
- Foreign Affairs Officer
Advancing to a Master’s Degree in International Relations
International relations professionals who want to take their career to the next level will often look to earn a master’s degree in the field. Master’s degrees in international relations include single and dual degrees, such as:
- Master of Science in Foreign Service
- Master of Arts in International Economics
- Master of Arts in International Policy
- Master of Arts in International Regional Studies
- Master of Arts in International Relations & Juris Doctor
- Master of Arts in International Relations & MBA
As seen through the degree titles, graduate students get the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of unique international specializations, including those in law, business, security, policy, and more.
Courses will vary widely from specialization to specializing, including courses such as:
- International Finance
- Microeconomics of Development
- Economic Policy
- Comparative National Systems
- Theories of International Systems
- Evolution of International Systems
International Regional Studies: Canadian Studies
- Donner Business-Policy
- Canadian-U.S. Relations
- Canadian French Language
Top-notch international organizations—such as the Red Cross, the International Center of Journalists, the United Nations, World Vision, the World Bank, and more—will look to hire and retain the most advanced international relations professionals, namely, those with an advanced degree in the field.
Some jobs that require applicants to hold a master’s degree in international relations include, but are not limited to:
- Advocacy Resource Development Advisor
- Chief of Party (COP) Team Leader: Civil Society Strengthening Program
- Country Manager
- International Human Rights Lawyer
- International Migration Lawyer
- Economic Opportunities Specialist
- Partnerships and Inclusive Development Program Advisor
To illustrate the type of work and type of qualifications necessary for advanced international relations jobs in West Virginia, example job titles and descriptions are listed here (job listings here do not constitute a job offer):
International Student Advisor for West Virginia University in Morgantown – applicants for jobs such as this should hold a master’s degree in international education, counseling, or another related field. They will work to provide immigration advising and guidance for proper integration for international students.
Research Fellow/Team Leader for Overseas Development Institute – applicants to this position should hold a post-graduate degree in international economics or a related field. This professional will work with the International Economic Development Group and the Private Sector and Markets programme to develop finance and economic development strategies.
West Virginia’s Contribution to International Trade, Development, Education, and Humanitarian Work
Some of West Virginia’s nonprofit and government organizations that work to facilitate international trade, cultural exchange, and humanitarian work include:
- West Virginia Council of International Programs – This organization works to promote international understanding and cooperation through creating and sustaining international friendships with international exchange programs.
Their exchange program is a four-month program that blends components such as academic courses, professional internships, cultural immersion, retreats, presentations, and weekly meetings. Through this, educational, cultural, and business relationships are formed.
- West Virginia Army National Guard – the West Virginia National Guard has been participating in the State Partnership Program since 1996, when it formed a unique partnership with Peru.
Through this program, the West Virginia military and the military of Peru engage in military-to-military exchanges, which promotes a culture of international cooperation and trust.
- Children of Uganda – based in Charles Town, Children of Uganda partners with Uganda locals to help keep children in school through providing children a safe place to live, eat, work, and learn. They also work to sustain a microfinance women’s program, helping women to become self-sustaining and empowered.
West Virginia-Based Organizations that Promote International Relations
West Virginia’s state and nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to promoting the state’s visibility internationally include:
- City of Morgantown, West Virginia: Sister Cities Commission
- City of Charleston, West Virginia: Sister City
- West Virginia Army National Guard