What Skills Do You Need for International Relations?

Ready to start your journey?

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

A master’s in international relations, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, can help you become a “global citizen” and start to truly understand the world and its nations. When you are trying to grasp the world on a global scale, you need to build the right skills. Some of the skills you can cultivate by studying international relations in graduate school include taking a multidisciplinary approach to your education, learning to communicate with a global audience, writing clearly and planning strategically to address global issues.

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

 Taking a Multidisciplinary, Multi-Cultural Approach to Learning

You might have been drawn to studies in international relations due to your love of a specific country. However, being too specialized can actually be a disadvantage when working in international relations. If you focus too narrowly on one specific country or even continent, you might find yourself at a disadvantage if your work finds you assigned elsewhere. Learning about a greater variety of countries will better equip you to put in the work to help solve global issues no matter where in the world you end up.

Considering that there are nearly 200 countries in the world, it’s not feasible to become an expert on every nation. When choosing countries to study in greater depth, you might want to consider which ones are more involved with the biggest current global issues.

In addition to studying multiple countries, you will also be studying different global issues and how different countries view these problems. Some issues your education in international relations might address include global governance, national and ethnic identities, environmental, international security, terrorism, social movements, and more. Knowledge about these different topics has become more important than ever as the world had become more interconnected.

Students of international relations should also consider studying fields like public health and history to better understand how global issues affect the world. These subjects will give you context on how past events and current health concerns affect people around the globe.

Communicating to a Global Audience

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain

When working in international relations, you will need to convey information to the people of numerous nations. Meanings of words and the intent behind them can sometimes get lost in translation, so it’s crucial when working in this field to carefully craft messages that won’t change when translated across language barriers.

Consider, too, that your audience is made up of people from very different backgrounds and that the language that is effective in reaching people can vary between cultures. When you are communicating to different cultures, you will want to make sure your message gets across and is appropriate. The language and phrases you use in one country may not work in another.

The more you know about different players in global events, the better you will be able to understand and connect with audiences from these different cultures by using that knowledge to shape your message to them.

People in different countries communicate in different languages. It’s not feasible for any one person to become fluent in all of the thousands of languages spoken around the world today. Still, learning a foreign language or two will also increase your skill set when it comes to communicating. Instead of relying on others (or on technology) to translate your message for you, you can work on your translations yourself and avoid incorrect messages from being sent out.

To gain the most from learning a foreign language, you might want to consider learning one of the top five most spoken languages. Mandarin Chinese is the most used language in the world, followed by Spanish, English, Hindi, and Arabic.

Writing Clearly and Concisely

All forms of communication matter, from public speaking to nonverbal cues, but your skills at expressing yourself through the written world are among the most important in international relations. Many times, when you are communicating to different populations, it will be through writing. What makes this task of writing for audiences of different countries and cultures particularly challenging is that, in today’s world, people don’t have time to read lengthy pages of text. The most effective way to get information across is through a message that is clear and concise, so that your audience can quickly read and understand it. Honing your writing skills to be able to do this will be useful when you enter the workforce.

Writing concisely often takes longer than writing pages upon pages of text. Many writers need to first get their thoughts out on paper and then revise their message to highlight what’s really important, rather than settling on the first draft and its extraneous details.

Planning Strategically in Addressing Global Issues

Global issues are particularly tricky to solve, not least because differences between cultures and hostility over historical events between nations can affect countries’ relationships with one another. It takes a great deal of strategy, sometimes in the midst of stressful situations, to come up with plans that diffuse tensions and offer the best and most peaceful resolutions to everyone involved.

When dealing with global issues, an international relations worker must come up with a concise but diplomatic plan that people around the world can understand and follow. The plan should have starting goals that are clear, along with reachable mid-term goals that build up to an end goal. None of these steps should be left to chance. A good plan for solving the issues that arise in international relations includes strategies for reaching each of those goals.

Other useful skills for entering international relations include technology and science skills and negotiation skills. Having experience working in an international affairs hub, even as an intern, is also valuable for this field.

Additional Resources

What Does Someone Who Studies International Relations Do After Graduation?

What Kind of Things Do I Learn in a Degree Program in International Relations?

Will a Degree in International Relations Be Helpful If I Want to Live Abroad?