International Studies

What is International Studies?

A student who graduates from UNCW with a major in International Studies will have the foundation to support awareness in global citizenship. Specifically students who major in International Studies will be exposed to other cultures, people, and places; understand one’s own culture from an international perspective and gain a deeper appreciation of a global society.                

Related Career Titles and Industry types:

Government & International Relations

Specific jobs include:

  • Foreign Service Official / Diplomat
  • Foreign Area Specialist
  • International Relations Specialist
  • Activities Coordinator
  • Translator
  • Intelligence Agent


  • Government Agencies
  • United Nations
  • Relief and Religious Organizations
  • U.S. Foreign Services
  • National Security Councils

Foreign service positions are extremely competitive, but those who pass the foreign service exam join a group of 9,000 who staff U.S. embassies abroad, the State Department and the United States Information Agency.

There are many other government agencies besides the State Department which hire International Studies graduates; most International Studies professionals in Washington work for other agencies such as the Defense Department, Central Intelligence Agency, Homeland Security and National Security Agency (the majority as intelligence analysts or and a few as clandestine operators). Others work for The Agency for International Development, which administers U.S. foreign aid.

As international economics and homeland security become increasingly prominent political issues, the number of international studies professionals who work on Congressional staffs has increased dramatically.

While difficult to obtain, administrative and communications positions within the United Nations are excellent opportunities for international studies graduates with strong language skills.

Language and Human Services & Education

Specific jobs include:

  • Affirmative Action Officer
  • ESL Instructor
  • Program Coordinator
  • Fund raiser
  • Foreign Language Teacher
  • Teacher / Professor
  • Humanitarian Relief Worker


  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • International Organizations
  • Educational Institutions
  • Peace Corps
  • Study Aboard Programs
  • International Community Organizations

International non-profit organizations that work to distribute foreign aid, improve humanitarian conditions and tackle issues such as famine relief are largely staffed by international relations/studies graduates.

The Peace Corps sends Americans abroad, typically for two year terms to developing countries are those in political or economic turmoil, to help the people of other countries work toward economic and social development. Volunteers often work alone in physically demanding conditions, and get independent management experience at a young age, making their experiences highly valued by employers hiring for international jobs. International Studies can prepare graduates for this challenging experience.

International Studies graduates who go on to get doctorates teach, research and write in a university setting, or research and lecture within think-tanks.

Communications & Research

Job Titles:

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Journalist
  • Researcher
  • Translator
  • Editor
  • Tour Guide


  • Research Institutions
  • Foreign News Agencies & International Newspapers
  • Online Publishers
  • Academic Journals
  • Magazines
  • Travel Industries

The Nation's capital has many private research and intelligence contractors that perform government work on a contractual basis.

With the increased prominence of cable and Internet news, there is increased demand for journalists with backgrounds in international affairs and business experience as well as foreign language skills to work as foreign news correspondents.

International Business & Industry

Specific jobs include:

  • Export Manager
  • International Banker
  • Cross-Cultural Relations Consultant
  • Sales Coordinator
  • PR Representative
  • International Hotel Manager


  • Foreign Corporations
  • International Marketing & Trade Firms
  • International Real Estate Firms
  • Travel and Hospitality Industries
  • Consulting Firms
  • Foreign Financial Institutions

The interdisciplinary nature of International Studies graduates make them ideally suited for careers in business and organizations with international clientele. Given their foreign language skills, political and cultural knowledge base, and background in economics, especially if combined with a Business degree, graduates are attractive to international businesses.

The foreign language and economic skills of International Studies graduates is useful for global financial analysis: assessing the economic performance of companies and industries for firms and institutions to invest in a globalized market, working as security analysts, investment analysts, portfolio managers, fund managers, risk managers, financial advisors and wealth managers. A bachelor’s degree is acceptable for entry-level positions in this field, with most in finance eventually seeking an MBA.

International Studies graduates are excellent candidates for law school due to their written and oral communications abilities, their knowledge of politics and international affairs and their research skills. International law is an extremely competitive field concerned with whether the behavior of governments corresponds with international laws, and increasingly, the behavior of international corporations. Prior to attending law school, students with undergraduate degrees in International Studies can seek jobs as paralegals.

Related Major Skills

Critical Thinking


Cross-Cultural Understanding


Information Synthesis



Solutions advocacy


Persuasive writing /communication

Public Speaking

Foreign Language

Global financial analysis

People/program management


Job and Internship Search Links

SeaWork (be sure to check out these links also in SeaWork: CareerShift,,, and GoinGlobal)

Job Search Resources

National Association of International Educators

American Foreign Service Association

US Department of State 

Carnegie Junior Fellows Program  

Aperian Global 

The Henry Stimson Center

Council on Foreign Relations 

The Carter Center

Career Planning Links

Candid Career Videos

Occupational Outlook Handbook

O*NET OnLine

NC Tower

The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs – Harvard University

Unv. Of Colorado- Boulder international careers information

Duke University International Studies career information 

Professional Association Links  

Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation  

Federation of International Trade Association   

International Association of Business Communicators  

International Public Relations Association   


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