International Relations

This tool should only be used as a guide — remember to meet with your academic adviser, Career Services and/or faculty to determine appropriate career options.

It’s a big world. Our international relations major prepares you to make a big impact.

International relations are all about making connections—and few international relations degrees are better connected than Oakland University’s. Our international relations major plugs you into a vast network that links our campus to global partners in the Detroit metroplex and beyond. You’ll examine international affairs from multiple angles, including diplomacy, business, foreign aid, national security, environmental politics, and more. Our international relations major integrates concepts from political science, economics, history, philosophy, and other disciplines with flexible course requirements that let you personalize the international relations degree to fit your career interests. You’ll get to know people from all over the globe, gain direct experience in international affairs, and acquire marketable skills that shine on an application for employment or graduate school.

International Relations Degree: The Oakland University Advantage

Oakland University’s location makes it one of the region’s best schools for international relations. We’re located 25 miles from an international border, in the midst of a global business hub that hosts dozens of companies that operate around the world. As a result, our international relations majors have unique opportunities to connect with professionals and organizations in every branch of international affairs.

As an international relations major at Oakland University, you’ll also benefit from:

  • Real-world experience. As an international relations major, you’ll get out of the classroom and into the community for internships, research, volunteer projects, and other hands-on activities. Oakland University has extensive local partnerships with organizations in every aspect of international affairs, including multinational corporations, foreign consulates, international trade bureaus, homeland security agencies, customs and immigration enforcement authorities, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and cultural institutions.
  • Academic flexibility. Our international relations degree integrates coursework from political science, economics, history, and philosophy. You can choose between two specialized tracks (national security/foreign policy, and global justice/sustainability), with the ability to focus the international relations major on a particular industry, country, region, or other point of emphasis.
  • A multicultural campus. Oakland University’s student population and faculty include people from six continents. You’ll spend every day immersed in a diverse community, sharing a range of cultural perspectives and opinions in all your activities (not just your international relations courses).
  • Outstanding faculty. You’ll get plenty of faculty face time as an international relations major, thanks to our small class sizes and attentive instructors. Most courses are taught by experienced faculty (not adjuncts or graduate students) who’ll offer lots of academic support and career guidance.
  • Research and publishing opportunities. International relations majors frequently collaborate on faculty research, receive author credit on published papers, and travel to conferences. In addition, Oakland University is home to the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics, a national honor-society journal that highlights outstanding undergraduate research from around the country.

International Relations Careers

The international relations degree equips you to move on to graduate schools and jobs in a broad array of fields. Our students commonly have interest in working for a federal government agency (such as the State Department or Department of Defense), global corporation, think tank, or nonprofit organization. If you’re interested in a law career, international studies majors are eligible for the 3+3 program, an accelerated track that lets you earn bachelor’s and law degrees in just six years.

The program offers a strong foundation for careers in all areas of international affairs, including:

  • National security
  • International business
  • Diplomacy
  • Public health
  • Trade relations
  • Law enforcement
  • Homeland security
  • Foreign aid
  • Global development
  • Environmental sustainability 

International Relations Degree: What You’ll Study

The international relations major integrates courses from political science, history, economics, and philosophy. You’ll take required classes in political science, global economics, research, and data analysis, and then choose electives from a very broad menu of options. A small sample of elective subjects includes:

  • U.S. foreign policy
  • Global democratization
  • Chinese politics
  • Human rights
  • The Middle East conflict
  • International finance
  • Indigenous political movements
  • Modern Iran and Iraq
  • Postcolonial conflicts in Africa
  • Global trade
  • The Vietnam War
  • History of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile
  • European political systems
  • America in the Cold War
  • Modern Russian history
  • Global justice

You’ll complete the program with a capstone project focused on international relations or comparative political systems.

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    • Career & Salary Information
    • Possible Career Options
    • Median Salary*
    • Education Needed
    • For More Information**

    * Median salary for the state of Michigan

    ** These professional organizations provide an excellent starting point for your research. There are many more resources available online.

    Possible Career Options

    • Congressional staffer
    • Intelligence analyst at
      • CIA
      • Department of Defense
      • Department of Homeland Security
      • National Security Agency
    • International business
      • Finance
      • Marketing
      • Trade
    • Lawyer
    • Peace Corps
    • Policy analyst for international consulting firms and/or think tanks
    • Policy analyst, program officer for U.S. government agencies
    • Political reporter, journalist
    • Staffer for non-profit organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working in areas such as:
      • International relief and development
      • Promotion of human rights
    • Staffer for U.S. government agencies (e.g., Department of State)
    • Staffer for various international organizations including United Nations, Organization of American States, etc.

    To get a better understanding of the opportunities, career options, and doors that are opened with a degree in international relations you can explore examples of careers and fields common in political science and related disciplines that can help identify strategies to market yourself for your ideal job.