What can I do with an International Relations degree?

A group international relations students in a discussion.
A group international relations students in a discussion.

In an era marked by rapid advancements in tech, increasing challenges in globalisation and post-pandemic aftershocks, the world is simultaneously more interconnected and more polarised.

These changes are linked to a range of challenges – including climate change, trade negotiations, escalating global conflicts and increasing economic disparity – that are further pushing the international system towards a critical juncture.

For aspiring diplomats and policymakers who want to make their mark on a changing world, the opportunity has never been greater. More professionals are needed who have the skills to assess international policies, interpret geopolitical trends and identify potential risks to guide decision-making processes.

Skills in intercultural negotiation, diplomacy, influence, governance and understanding of global interconnections are not only useful – they’re essential.

Wondering what you can do with an International Relations degree? Below, we break down the common jobs on offer for International Relations graduates.

Typical careers in International Relations

International Relations graduates can work across a number of settings and are most often employed by governments and embassies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), think tanks and research institutes, global and humanitarian organisations such as the United Nations (UN) or World Bank, educational institutions, global corporations and more.

Whether you want to pioneer policy reform to address the climate crisis, advocate for disadvantaged communities in high-conflict areas, or expand businesses across borders, an International Relations degree can provide the foundation you need to drive meaningful change.

Here are some common careers in the field.

Diplomat/Foreign Service Officer

Diplomats and foreign service officers play a pivotal role in both representing and safeguarding their country’s interests internationally. They’re most often employed by their national government and work within the department of foreign affairs.

The responsibilities associated with this role are both dynamic and multifaceted, encompassing networking and relationship building, crisis management, policy analysis, public relations, and economic cooperation.

International Relations Analyst

An International Relations analyst (also known as foreign affairs analyst) is a specialist primarily responsible for understanding and interpreting global affairs and bilateral relationships.

The role typically involves analysing activities such as foreign policy, international trade and domestic security to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for growth. For example, they might assess the impact of a new trade agreement between two countries, determining how it could influence economic relations or alter security dynamics.

International Development Specialist

International development specialists work on projects and initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life in developing countries. They can work for a number of organisations such as NGOs and charities, or an intergovernmental operation like the UN.

In practice, the role could involve implementing food, education and housing projects in disadvantaged areas, or setting up microfinance programs for small business owners who don’t typically have access to such resources.

International Trade Specialist

If you’re interested in global economics and have a strength in business strategy, a career as an international trade specialist may be worth considering. This role is critical in facilitating and managing trade across national borders.

Within it, the responsibilities span various aspects of international commerce, such as trade compliance, global market research, liaising with global partners, advising on foreign trade policy and analysing global economics.

Factors like sustainability and ethical trade, supply chain challenges, trade wars and geopolitical sensitivity and tech advancements present a number of considerations and challenges for leaders in this space.

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence analysts have the critical role of analysing and interpreting information related to security, defence or law enforcement. They most commonly work for military, law enforcement, research institutes and government intelligence agencies.

In Australia, intelligence analysts who work for the defence force inform strategic national and military decisions, report against international counter-terrorism capabilities and more. This role is cutting-edge and exciting, requiring high level of attention to detail and critical thinking.

Political Risk Analyst

If you’re concerned about global crises and economic policies, or you are paying close attention to cyber security, terrorism and technology trends, you may be suited to a role as a political risk analyst.

These strategic thinkers analyse the potential impact that political decisions, policies and global events may have on their country’s supply chains, economy, political stability and education. In essence, they provide essential insights to governments, NGOs and businesses that are navigating the complexities of global affairs.

Political risk analysts can be hired by financial institutions, government agencies, legal firms, global companies and more.

Humanitarian Aid Worker

Humanitarian aid is one of the most compassionate and courageous career choices for International Relations specialists. They’re the ones on the ground when others are affected by crises, providing essential resources such as food, clothing, shelter and medication when, where and to whom they are needed most.

In a world where conflicts and crises can create complex challenges, aid workers play a pivotal role in supporting relief efforts and fostering long-term recovery.

Intercultural Specialist

A cross-cultural specialist or consultant plays the pivotal role of facilitating understanding and effective communication between people from different cultural backgrounds and assisting navigation of cultural differences.

These professionals are often employed by multinational corporations, foreign affairs and immigration departments, NGOs and international aid agencies, healthcare providers, tourism businesses or educational institutions.

International NGO Program Manager

If you’re passionate about working for an NGO and have a knack for managing projects from end to end, you may be suited to a career as an international NGO program manager. These positions are responsible for overseeing, planning and coordinating various initiatives that an NGO undertakes – for example, promoting sustainable development or providing aid in disadvantaged countries or regions.

Specific duties will vary with each role but can include team leadership, financial management, stakeholder engagement and more.

Why study International Relations?

If you want a career that truly leaves an impact – be it in public service, government, business, research or humanitarian aid – pursuing International Relations is a significant step in the right direction.

And by studying International Relations, you can be equipped with the expert skills to prepare for a range of roles and lead transformation.

With the UTS Online Master of International Relations, you can:

  • Gain practical skills in analysing and addressing global issues, allowing you to formulate and implement effective policies, strategies and initiatives.
  • Have an impact beyond boundaries, using your expertise to drive change across international organisations, government bodies, intelligence sectors, healthcare and the global business sector.
  • Learn from industry professionals and experts, preparing you with what you need to succeed across business and government to NGOs, and environmental organisations.
  • Shape your study to your career goals, choosing from a range of specialisations or electives.
  • Benefit from ongoing support from academics and student advisors at every stage, from enrolment to graduation.

The International Relations field has never been more relevant for our changing world. Could this be the career path for you?

Gain an advanced toolkit to address urgent global challenges

Ready to unleash your potential to unleash barriers and drive ethical transformation? The UTS Online Master of International Relations is designed for forward thinkers who want to turn their ideas into high-impact action and take control of their future in an ever-changing world.

With a curriculum informed by dedicated in-field experts, students can learn to develop strong intercultural abilities for seamless integration into global workplaces.

Designed with busy, full-time working professionals in mind, the online model allows students to complete their degree on their own terms – and graduate fully equipped to achieve their goals and lead in a globalised world.

Immerse yourself in the world of advocacy, empowering you to anticipate shifts, make informed decisions and build bridges on the international stage with the UTS Online Master of International Relations. Get in touch with our Student Enrolment Advisors today on 1300 477 423, or visit our website.