Employment Outlook for International Studies Majors
are career opportunities for graduates with International Studies degrees in a
wide range of fields, including but not limited to U.S. government,
international organizations, non-governmental organizations, research
institutes, non-profit organizations, and private business. IS majors will also have opportunities to
attend a wide range of master’s and doctoral graduate programs.
Traditional career choices for International Studies majors were
jobs in international organizations, such as the United Nations, and U.S.
government jobs, including the US Foreign Service, and positions in the
international divisions of many other departments, including Treasury,
Commerce, and Agriculture. Non-governmental organizations, such as the
International Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace were other
options, as were research positions in interest groups dealing with
international issues and think-tanks in major cities.
And, international businesses have been recruiters, although many
employees had to spend a period of time at corporate headquarters in training
and entry-level jobs before being posted overseas. Many employers are interested in applicants
with international experience.
Graduates with international study/work experience are at a
greater advantage when applying to international-oriented positions within and
outside the United States. Employers
want to know that their employees are well-rounded and will be prepared for
dealing with global issues. Many
employers are interested in applicants with international experience. Graduates
with international study/work experience are at a greater advantage when
applying to international-oriented positions within and outside the United
international work, students will need several areas of expertise. It is therefore recommended that students
work on developing the following skills:
- The language and culture of the foreign country with whom or where a student may want to work.
- Join – or start – a conversation group in a language where students meet together weekly to speak the language to improve fluency.
- Strongly consider studying abroad for an extended period of time. Employers want someone who can not only speak the language but has lived in the culture for a period of 1-2 years. They want to hire someone who is knowledgeable about other cultures.
- Perform an internship or volunteer services for a non-governmental organization.
- Do an independent project involving translation (oral or written), research, and/or writing.
According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) and the
National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP),
the “percentage of employers who want colleges to ‘place more emphasis’ on
essential learning outcomes” are as follows (Hart Research/AACU 2007;
- Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and
and Technology: 82%
Role of the United States in the World: 60%
Values and Traditions (U.S./Global): 53%
- Personal and Social
Competence (teamwork in diverse groups): 76%
Knowledge (global issues): 72%
and Values: 56%