If you want to live outside of the United States, consider a master’s in international relations, which is one of the highest-paying master’s degrees. Earning your degree in international relations will help you develop a strong background in other cultures and prepare you for a promising career in a variety of different nations. With this academic background, you will be well-equipped to live abroad comfortably, both financially and socially speaking.
Developing a Background in the Culture of Where You Want to Live
Programs in international relations require you to take courses that cover the cultural backgrounds of different nations. You will get to learn the history and the cultural ways of different countries, hopefully including where you want to go. Some programs even have courses that focus on specific countries, such as government and security in Korea or a seminar in Middle East politics and security.
Prospective graduate students who are planning to live abroad may already know where they want to go. Perhaps you’ve been longing to connect with your heritage or to revisit a former travel destination that you liked enough to want to move there. If that’s the case, you might benefit from choosing an international affairs program with regional concentration options. By choosing a concentration based on the area in which you want to live, you can specialize your studies in the history, culture, current issues and government and political systems of your intended destination.
Options and electives within these concentrations allow you to customize your education even more. If you choose a concentration in Asia, for example, you might focus your coursework primarily on studies pertaining to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan or Southeast Asia, or you could blend classes pertaining to different countries and cultures to broaden your knowledge of the region.
Many graduate programs for international relations require an internship. As an international relations intern, you will not only have the chance to experience working in the field but also interact with people from the countries to which you would like to move.
Mastering a Second Language
Before living abroad, you should know the native language of where you want to go. This need fits nicely with this degree path, because many graduate programs for international studies require you to develop proficiency in a second language.
You don’t necessarily have to take more foreign language courses as a graduate student. Schools sometimes allow students to demonstrate their language proficiency by passing a test instead of taking language coursework. Still, it’s never a bad idea to put in the time and work to study another language – whether that means improving skills in a second language or even developing some proficiency in a third language.
Of course, it makes the most sense to choose to master a language that is relevant to where you want to live. If you already have a country or region in mind as your new home, deciding which language to study might be easy. If not, it may make sense to look at which languages are the ones most widely spoken. The number-one most widely used language in the world, as measured by the number of native speakers, is Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is the next most widely used language, and – along with English – Hindi and Arabic round out the top five languages.
Even if the country you want to move to primarily speaks English, there might be a secondary language spoken that could be useful to know. For inspiration, look at your intended country’s closest neighbors, allies and trade partners.
Preparing for High-Earning Occupations Abroad
One of the most straightforward occupations for those who want to live abroad is to become a diplomat. Being a diplomat allows you to help your country while also enjoying the experience of living in another country. This job spreads across five different paths, each with its own focus.
Consular offices are diplomats that help individuals in a multitude of ways, spanning from adoptions of children from one country to another to helping fight human trafficking. You could consider becoming an economic officer if your interests are more financial in nature. If you want to live near an embassy, you could choose the path to become a management officer. Those that want to be a part of politics but live abroad should consider the political officer path. The last path for diplomats is a public diplomacy officer. In this role, you could work with different groups to help support U.S policy interests.
While the entry-level diplomat only earns $59,000, the average salary for diplomats across the five paths is $87,395 a year, according to PayScale. With just a few years of experience, you will see a nice boost to your income, bringing you closer to the more lucrative pay in that average salary range. Diplomats also have the potential to earn bonuses, which can bring their salary into the six-figure range.
A master’s in international affairs can also help you prepare to work as a foreign affairs specialist. Glassdoor reports that foreign affairs specialists enjoy an average salary of $113,862. These jobs involve working globally for either the government or the private sector. Foreign affairs specialists meet with politicians and help develop global policies that benefit their organization.
A master’s in international relations can also help prepare you to become an ambassador, which is the highest-ranking level of diplomat.