International relations graduate students tackle problems facing world governments.

The United States is home to many of the elite international relations graduate programs in the world. Some reside where you would expect, in the Ivy League, while others are in or near centers of international political power, according to rankings by leading publications. Former influential policymakers staff these schools whose students gain opportunities for high-ranking positions in world government and political organizations.


The magazine “Foreign Policy” ranked international relations master’s programs based on results from a survey of faculty conducted by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy project at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. “U.S. News & World Report” magazine compiled its list of the best graduate programs in international politics based on surveys of university deans and faculty conducted in fall 2012 by Ipsos Public Affairs. The survey went to 119 schools.

"Foreign Policy," Ivy League

The "Foreign Policy" survey had Harvard and Princeton universities ranked No. 3 and 4. Harvard's Kennedy School of Government includes a concentration in international and global affairs. Professors include Joseph S. Nye, who coined the phrase “smart power”; Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism policy leader under George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; and Israel policy expert Stephen M. Walt. Princeton’s program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has 165 students. The school's institute for International and Regional Studies publishes the “World Politics” journal. Teachers include U.S. imperialist critic John Ikenberry, Robert Keohane, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, the director of policy planning under former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

"Foreign Policy," Non-Ivy League

"Foreign Policy" had Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities ranked first and second. Georgetown offers master's programs in foreign service and security studies. Former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.S. Agency for International Development director Andrew Natsios, a Georgetown alumnus, provide mentorship in the selective School of Foreign Service. Johns Hopkins’ master’s program through the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies allows students to concentrate on a particular field, such as international development, or a particular geographic region, such as African studies. The two-year program has courses in 16 languages. Instructors include former national security adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski; David Lampton, the director of China studies at Johns Hopkins; and Michael Mandelbaum, who directs the school’s American Foreign Policy program.

"U.S. News," Ivy League

Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Yale were all in the top 10 of the “U.S. News & World Report” list of best grad schools for international politics. Columbia offers several graduate degree options, including a Master of International Affairs. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in the Turkish government, the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Department of State, the United Nations and the World Bank. Yale University changed its Master of International Relations program to a Master of Global Affairs in 2013. The introductory Gateway to Global Affairs class analyzes international problems from energy security to infectious disease.

"U.S. News," Non-Ivy League

Stanford University and the University of Michigan were behind only Harvard and Princeton in the "U.S. News" rankings. Students in Stanford’s graduate program recently studied in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The Stanford-Vienna Academic Exchange Program started in 2013. Graduates have gone on to work in the U.S. State Department, Embassy of Japan, Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the World Economic Forum. A quarter of the University of Michigan’s public policy graduate students come from outside the United States. The school offers master’s and doctoral programs in international studies. Students in the school have interned with the International Organization for Migration, U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the World Bank.