Career Guide

Career Benefits of International Relations Major


  • IR students gain critical thinking, analytic, and research skills that can be applied to understanding significant concepts, institutions, actors and debates in international affairs. 
  • IR majors develop their communication skills. The IR curriculum emphasizes writing, and students also develop verbal communication skills through class discussions, simulations, and debates.
  • IR majors have a variety of career paths that they may pursue, and the flexibility to apply their knowledge and skills to a variety of careers in a rapidly changing job market.


Ashley DeBoer VandeBunte Spotlight

Ashley DeBoer VandeBunte

2008 Graduate Director of Meetings for the American Political Science Association

Amanda Miralrio Spotlight

Amanda Miralrio

Compliance Office for U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control

Samuel Yocca Spotlight

Samuel Yocca

Samuel Yocca works for Global Programs at Georgetown University

Lizzie Heyboer Spotlight

Lizzie Heyboer

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Fellowship

Kaylin Klein Spotlight

Kaylin Klein

Kaylin Klein now working for Fidelity Investments

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Career Options

With a strong foundation in the liberal arts, International Relations majors are well suited for a variety of careers. Occupational opportunities include government administration, politics and campaigns, public policy, non-profit organizations, international relations, business, law, and journalism. 

  • Foreign Service and other government agencies including
    • Department of Defense
    • Agency for International Development
    • Central Intelligence Agency
    • Department of Commerce
    • Department of Homeland Security 
  • Education as a Teacher or Professor
  • International Organization Program Officer
  • Legal profession as Lawyer or Judge
  • Lobbyist or Political Analyst
  • Public Policy Researcher
  • International Sales and Marketing
  • Social Service Worker
  • Non-Profit or Public Administrator
  • Journalist
  • International Education Specialist

Careers of GVSU IR Graduates

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • NATO
  • University International and Study Abroad Offices
  • Congressional Research Service
  • U.S. Naval Intelligence
  • The Carter Center for Human Rights
  • Steelcase Corporation
  • Motorola Corporation
  • USF Holland
  • Landmine Survivors Network
  • World Learning International Training
  • U.S. Customs
  • Catholic Charities
  • Peace Corps
  • Social Security Administration
  • Lutheran World Services
  • United Way
  • Ovation Travel Agency
  • Detroit Free Press

Building Your Career Prospects

  • Get good grades and foster strong relationships with your professors
  • Study abroad and develop language skills
  • Pursue internships
  • Engage in extracurricular groups on campus
  • Network with GVSU alumni and professionals
  • Keep abreast of global news and issues

Career Resources

GVSU Career Services

There are so many career resources available to undergraduates that it can be a bit overwhelming. To get you started, we recommend that you take advantage of GVSU's Career Services office, and read two books. GVSU's Career Services site can be found at

The Career Services office has a very helpful Career Guide available at this site that is mandatory reading for anyone at GVSU contemplating a career. The office offers practice interviews and assistance with building and refining your résumé. They also sponsor periodic career fairs, which are chances to meet directly with potential employers.



Helpful Career Books

  • Careers in International Affairs. Maria Pinto Carland and Candace Faber. 2008. Georgetown University Press.
  • Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development.  2008. Sherry Mueller and Mark Overmann. Georgetown University Press.
  • International Jobs:  Where They Are and How to Get Them.  Nina Segal and Eric Kocher.  2003.  Basic Books.
  • Alternatives to the Peace Corps: A Guide to Global Volunteer Opportunities.  Caitlin Hachmyer.  2008.  Food First Books.
  • Go Global! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad.  Stacie Nevadoski Berdan.  2011.  Amazon Kindle Edition.




Graduate School & Law School

Graduate School
These three sites can link you to all the professional master’s degree programs offered in the public administration, international affairs, and public policy fields:

National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA)

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)

Law School
If you are contemplating law school, check out our helpful pre-law FAQ.


Tafel Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Tafel Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Tafel wins Pew Teaching Excellence Award

Feb 19, 2024

Outstanding Student Paper Competition

Outstanding Student Paper Competition

Eligibility is open to all students who major in political science or international relations.

Feb 13, 2024

John T. Batchelder Political Science Scholarship

John T. Batchelder Political Science Scholarship

The John T. Batchelder scholarship is funded by a generous grant from the Batchelder family. The scholarship honors Dr. John Thayer Batchelder who served as a Grand Valley State University professor until his retirement in 1997.

Feb 13, 2024

GV in DC Scholarship

GV in DC Scholarship

The GV in DC Endowed Scholarship helps Grand Valley students study and intern in Washington, D.C.

Feb 13, 2024

PLS/IR Department Hosts Lecture on China by Kaiser Kuo

PLS/IR Department Hosts Lecture on China by Kaiser Kuo

Kuo lectured on what we get right and wrong about China.

Feb 6, 2024

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NPHC Stroll Off

February 24, 2024 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Fun, and exciting Cultural Step show hosted by the National Pan-Hellenic Council to showcase there organizational strolls on the big stage for the GVSU community to see in a competitive light....

Virtual Information Session: Fulbright US Student Program (English Teaching Assistantship and Study/Research)

February 27, 2024 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Interested in teaching English abroad as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA)? Curious about the Fulbright Study/Research (S/R) grants for US students seeking support for a year of funded graduate...

Virtual Information Session: Fulbright US Student Program (English Teaching Assistantship and Study/Research)

February 28, 2024 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Interested in teaching English abroad as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA)? Curious about the Fulbright Study/Research (S/R) grants for US students seeking support for a year of funded graduate...

Kpop Unleashed 2024

April 7, 2024 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

K-Pop Unleashed is K-Pop Group Evolution's annual dance and cultural showcase. This event features performances and discussions from both Grand Valley clubs and other organizations in the Grand...

2024 Celebrating All Walks of Life Pow Wow

April 13, 2024 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM

A Traditional Powwow is a gathering and celebration of Native American culture through ceremony, song, dance, feasting, and socializing. Traditional pow wows include dancers, drum groups,...

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Page last modified June 21, 2018