International relations (IR) or international affairs, depending on academic institution, is either a field of political science, an interdisciplinary academic field similar to global studies, or an entirely independent academic discipline in which students take a variety of internationally focused courses in social science and humanities disciplines. In both cases, the field studies relationships between political entities (polities) such as states, sovereign states, empires, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs), and the wider world-systems produced by this interaction. International relations is an academic and a public policy field, and so can be positive and normative, because it analyzes and formulates the foreign policy of a given State.
Many disciplines come together in the field of international relations, such as history, government, economics and law. At the bachelor's degree level, students get a solid understanding of these disciplines and explore how nations are related. Students perfect their skills in another language and may have the option to study abroad. Master's degree programs train students for careers in a specialized area, such as foreign affairs. Some master's programs in international relations are combined with law degree programs. Studies at the doctoral level prepare students for careers in academia and research.
Program Levels: Bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctoral degrees
Prerequisites: A high school diploma or GED is typically needed to enter the bachelor program; admission into the program at higher levels requires a bachelor's degree, volunteer work, fluency in more than one language, or even a Law School Admission Test.
Online Availability: Courses may be available online for both bachelor's and master's degree programs.
Program Specializations: Some programs offer specialization areas, such as foreign affairs, regional or operative studies, or economics, to name a few.
Program Length: This is largely dependent upon the program level; for example, a doctoral program typically takes five years to complete.
Other Requirements: Depending on the program level, but especially with a doctoral program, students gain experience in teaching and may study abroad. Researching and writing a dissertation is another important part of the doctoral program.