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How Do I Get a Master of International Studies Degree?

Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez

Earning a master of international studies degree requires you to complete a bachelor's degree, specialized graduate classes, and an internship. This higher degree usually requires learning a second language as well. The master of international studies program often culminates with a final project, commonly called a thesis.

Students who are interested in an international studies career, such as global business consulting, must earn a four year college degree before beginning a master's program. Typically, students will major in an undergraduate study program that relates to the future master's degree; common subjects can include a foreign language, global economics, or religion. After receiving the bachelor's degree, you must apply separately to a graduate school offering the master of international studies.

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Woman posing

Coursework in graduate level classes usually encompasses theories regarding global cultures, economics, and governance. Depending on the chosen university, these courses can take place over an entire school year or can be compressed into a summer semester. Compressed schedules can be convenient for students who plan to study abroad; many programs emphasize hands-on experience in the actual country you would like to work in. Classes in a master of international studies program can help you understand different cultures and norms before embarking on an immersive internship.

A study abroad experience or internship is normally required for the master of international studies degree. Typically, the student will work in the desired country with experienced international workers; for example, you might work with non-profit agencies that help local communities or even within the community government. Through this experience, you will gain hands-on expertise and build professional relationships. During the course of the internship, it may be possible to secure a future career position once you graduate.

The majority of graduate students working toward their master's degree in international studies speak English fluently; however, many master's programs require you to learn a second language. This language should be chosen strategically, based on the intended culture or country you would like to work within. For example, it is good practice to speak French if you will be working in France, or other French-speaking countries, including Canada.

Along with the hands-on work component of the master of international studies internship, you must also complete a long written project called a thesis. The thesis requires you to research a topic and provide a theory that can be proved or disproved. Many students work on their thesis while studying abroad; the local culture or political situation may be the chosen topic, which allows the student to interview and observe the subjects first hand.

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