Careers in International Relations

December 26, 2013,
Careers in International Relations

Globalisation has brought countries closer. With closer interaction among nations, the need for specialists well-versed in building and maintaining ties has grown exponentially. Interactions range from being bilateral to multilateral. They may be between similar parties, say two governments or sometimes between two with different interests, say governments and organisations wanting to set up business in those countries. At times, the interaction may involve conflicts, legal issues and so on. Each requires a distinct set of skills and expertise.

An individual wishing to specialize in International Relations in India can do so not only at the post-graduate level but one can begin at Undergraduate level as well. Career options range from government jobs to international bodies.

Since the options available for an individual wanting to pursue a career in International Relations are limited in India, it is all the more important for you to be doubly sure of your career choice.

But how can you be sure? No worries! Career experts at your service. A career counselor will help you decide what choice is best suited for you on the basis of your aptitude – inherent abilities and skills and suggest the best course of action. And if you are not too sure about what your inherent strengths or aptitude is then taking an online aptitude test can be quite a good idea.

Indian Foreign Service

Considered a prestigious service to be part of, the Indian Foreign Service is one of the best possible options for an individual wishing to pursue a career in international relations. Along with earning lucratively, one can also gain a lot of exposure by serving on behalf of the nation in various countries on deputation.

In order to be part of the Indian Foreign Service, one needs to clear the Civil Service examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission and subsequent rounds. Once absorbed into the service, the Ministry of External Affairs conducts intensive training before deputing officers within the country and subsequently to other countries on behalf of the nation.

It is important here to stress the need for being absolutely sure of your career choice. Preparing for the civil services, more so the Foreign Service is an extremely time-consuming and grueling exercise. If you have even the slightest doubt about your choices, it is best to undergo a career counseling session before deciding to go ahead.

World agencies and international NGOs

A large number of not-for profits work across the world on a wide variety of issues. It is important for them to understand the countries they are working in to be able to device effective interventions. Consider the United Nations.

The United Nations is a world body engaged in activities ranging from peacekeeping to funding developmental projects in fields such as education, healthcare and so on. Being a multilateral organisation with presence in several nations, the United Nations recruits professionals with qualifications and experience in international relations to be able to effectively understand local government policies, prevailing political/economic conditions.

The School of International Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University offers a Masters in Politics specializing in International Studies. It also offers M.Phil and PhD programs allowing one to specialize on various countries/regions such as South Asia, Latin America and also various subjects such as international trade and development, disarmament studies etc.

Multinational business houses and world bodies

The trade world is literally without borders as more and more companies/business houses are setting up shop in countries across continents. Similarly, changes in policies/political conditions/economic climate or even natural calamities affect businesses all over the world and not just in countries where they take place. Organisations like the World Bank, business houses operating in multiple continents and even governments of countries recruit professionals with expertise in international relations/law/trade etc to be able to analyse and interpret events accurately and plan/re-plan their strategies accordingly.

The School of International Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University also offers a Masters in Economics specializing in World Economics.

The Central University of Kerala, offers a BA International Studies and MA in International Relations and Politics

The Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar offers MA in International Relations and Politics

The Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal University, offers an MA in Diplomacy, Law and Business and is possibly one of the few private Universities in the country offering a course in international studies.


As mentioned repeatedly through this entire article, globalization has impacted all sectors and journalism is no exception. Reporting, be it politics, economics or any other subject, has never been simple but has grown all the more complex today. Consider the recent incident of an Indian diplomat being “ill-treated” in the United States has become a critical issue. Reporting on such an issue requires a nuanced understanding of diplomatic relations between nations, history of Indo-US relations to begin with. You can either pursue a course in journalism and through experience and exposure develop expertise in international relations or do a course in international relations/trade/law etc and get into journalism.


Since institutes offering courses in international relations are few, there is likely to be a good demand for faculty for courses of this nature. While one can become eligible for teaching at Universities and colleges by doing masters in the subject and clearing NET, it may be wise to spend some time working in either of the organisations/sectors mentioned above and then move to teaching so that you are able to bring valuable practical experience to the classroom.

Although course options available today in international relations in India are limited, the sector is promising and if inclined, an individual can consider applying for courses on the subject in universities abroad.

If you have decided that International Relations is the career choice for you, do not be disheartened by the limited options available in India. With the aptitude and skills for the field and the right career advice, nothing can stop you from being successful. But be sure to take the online aptitude test to know your inherent strengths.


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