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Top Global Studies Careers: Jobs and Salaries

Industry Advice Political Science & Security

What is Global Studies?

Earning a graduate degree in global studies can prepare you for virtually any career in politics, business, finance, and foreign services. It is an interdisciplinary and practical degree that focuses on economics, politics, culture, and globalization, and can be beneficial for individuals planning to pursue an array of government positions. Within these programs, students will come to understand how the world operates, and how different states and countries should interact.

At Northeastern specifically, a master’s degree in global studies and international relations allows students the opportunity to gain these valuable political skills on their own time, anywhere in the world. Classes focus on the actual work done in the field—from speechwriting to nonprofit management—and the curriculum includes many opportunities for discussing and debating on international perspectives. Students are also able to declare a concentration or region of interest within the program, and tailor their education to best prepare them for a future career as a leader in the niche field they desire.

“[This degree] doesn’t apply just to government,” says Fiona Creed, an associate teaching professor in the Master of Science in Global Studies and International Relations program within Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies. “This new way of thinking applies to employers in the private and the nonprofit sector, [as well.]”

Creed explains that large technology companies like Google and Facebook—which are working to continue expanding internationally—can not just rely on experts in computer science and artificial intelligence to prepare a global corporation for the challenges of working in a politicized and complex environment. Instead, much of this work must fall to individuals with a broader knowledge of the world. “Many companies [are] now requiring that their employees have a very deep understanding of international affairs,” she says.

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A guide for what you need to know to prepare for, and work in, today’s globalized world.


Top 10 Careers in Global Studies and International Relations

There are a wide variety of career opportunities that become available to those earning a master’s degree in international and global studies, including roles in nonprofit organizations, private industry, international education, and corporations, as well as positions within the State Department.

“I would say that the biggest employer of [these graduates] would be international organizations,” says Creed, who also served as the executive director of the United Nations Association of Greater Boston. “A master’s degree in global studies prepares students for a diverse career in journalism, international security, [non-governmental organizations] (NGOs), [the] United Nations, and many more exciting opportunities worldwide.”

Read on to learn about ten of the top careers global studies graduates pursue. Be sure to note that many of the average salaries are not a full representation of what an individual in these roles is paid, as many of these positions come with paid housing, top-level benefits, and annual cash bonuses in addition to an annual salary.

1. Diplomat

Average Annual Salary: $88,019

Role Description: Also known as foreign service officers, diplomats operate with the primary goal of promoting peace and representing America’s interests through well-developed international ties. They are assigned to work at one of the 270 embassies around the world, and typically focus on one politically-charged issue, such as human trafficking or fair trade challenges.

There are five job titles that a diplomat can pursue:

  1. Consular Officers: These officers are in charge of facilitating adoption, evacuating Americans in times of crisis, and fighting human trafficking.
  2. Economic Officers: Individuals in these roles build and maintain positive economic and trade relations between the U.S. and other countries, promoting America’s commercial interests.
  3. Management Officers: These officers are responsible for all embassy operations, including everything from real estate to the hiring and firing of personnel.
  4. Political Officers: Political officers analyze and report on the political climate and how it relates to the interests and negotiations of the U.S.
  5. Public Diplomacy Officers: These officers use a variety of media to promote U.S. interests and image abroad. They manage cultural and information programs and organize exchange programs with other countries.

2. Ambassador

Average Annual Salary: $124,406

Role Description: A United States ambassador is the highest-ranking diplomat, and is responsible for representing the country and president abroad. An ambassador may also work with the U.N. to promote goodwill throughout the world. Individuals in these roles are in charge of navigating global health crises, such as the Ebola virus outbreak, as well. As of March 2018, 44 of the 188 international posts were left unfilled by U.S. ambassadors.

3. Political Affairs Officer

Average Annual Salary: $146,237

Role Description: A political affairs officer keeps up to date on events relating to political issues. They collect and analyze information on listed individuals, entities, and countries gathered from communications and publications. They also monitor worldwide political developments that could endanger U.S. peace or security. Political careers are expected to grow three percent by the year 2026.


Average Annual Salary: $111,430

Role Description: A lobbyist’s main role is to contact members of Congress and other elected officials and persuade them to support their clients’ interests. Similarly, grassroots lobbying is when a lobbyist attempts to influence the general public’s opinion and motivate them to take action by contacting their senate.

Real-World Example

A recent example of lobbying focused on the labeling of GMO products in 2016. Lobbyists in favor of the labeling rallied up public interest and gained backing from environmentalists to support their cause, but the lobbyists representing the big food companies ultimately were the ones who benefited from the bill.

5. Government Affairs Manager

Average Annual Salary: $128,671

Role Description: Government affairs managers maintain policies involving state, local, and federal government affairs. They create policy proposals to help further their organization’s legislative goals, and work with individual companies to develop public policy strategies that will support government relations and benefit the companies, as well.

6. Military Operations Analyst

Average Annual Salary: $61,089

Role Description: Military operations analysts plan and analyze the impact of certain military functions and their effectiveness in a mission. Analysts execute projects that meet objectives while also staying on budget and schedule. They also lead teams in modeling military systems and scenarios for better decision-making and project execution.

7. Foreign Affairs Analyst

Average Annual Salary: $67,223

Role Description: Foreign affairs analysts serve NGOs, government agencies and private sector corporations by researching the impact of policies and revising their own policies based on what is happening in the world. Foreign affairs analysts manage the political and commercial interest of a company. For example, foreign affairs analysts for the Federal Aviation Administration would be in charge of achieving safer and more efficient global air transportation.

8. National Security Agent and Analysts

Average Annual Salary: $87,034

Role Description: Agents work with high-level organizations—such as the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA)—to monitor threat levels of every type. They analyze security data and provide intelligence information to policymakers and military commanders. Security analysts can also work as threat intelligence analysts with individual companies, such as Amazon, who face international threats and risks daily.

9. International Trade Specialist

Average Annual Salary: $90,220

Role Description: International trade specialists ensure all international financial, business and trading transactions are within regulation. They act as an advisor for matters of tariffs and federal and foreign regulations. They also conduct business with international banks.

10. Human Rights Activist

Average Annual Salary: $65,000

Role Description: Human rights activists advocate issues that pertain to the fair treatment of all humans. An activist is responsible for making issues known to the public, key stakeholders, and government officials. Individuals interested in a human rights career may also consider a career as a human rights lawyer or program officer.

Are you ready to make a change in the world? Learn how an advanced degree in Global Studies and International Relations from Northeastern can help you secure a diverse career you can be passionate about.


Download Our Free Guide to Breaking into Global Studies and International Relations