Professionals have long been asking for accelerated online Master’s in International Relations degrees to be offered for working adults. As international relations become more of a factor in American politics and the economy, it has become increasingly clear that those already working in the field would benefit from being provided with a degree that meets their specific needs. And now that a variety of positions can only be obtained with a graduate degree, students are looking for programs that can be completed in a short amount of time; this has given way to a rise in online degrees being offered by some of the most renowned schools in the country.

International relations professionals often work full-time after graduation, and in this field, many of those positions take place overseas or in an area in the country that may not have a great program in the field. This means that online degrees, such as the ones listed below, provide them with the best chance of enrolling in a program that will help them earn promotions and move forward in their career. And since online degrees are often completed entirely online or with low residency requirements, can be completed in two years or less and come with a variety of options not available in traditional programs, it has become more important than ever to ensure that updated rankings on these degrees are published.

Ranking Low-Cost Accelerated Master’s in International Relations

To develop this ranking of the top 10 online master of international relations programs, our editors conducted an exhaustive web search and identified an initial pool of 21 such programs. We then applied the rating and ranking methodology listed below, using information from the National Center for Education Statistics as well as each school’s website. In the case of a tie, the more affordable program is featured higher in the ranking.

Methodology

Time to Completion

  • Less Than 2 Years: 1 point
  • 20 Months or Less: 2 points
  • 18 Months or Less: 3 points
  • 16 Months or Less: 4 points
  • 14 Months or Less: 5 points
  • 12 Months or Less: 6 points

Graduate Tuition

  • Less Than $20,000: 1 point
  • Less Than $15,000: 2 points
  • Less Than $10,000: 3 points
  • Less Than $5,000: 4 points

Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item

Presence of an Online Student Support Network– 1 point

#10—Kansas State University

Kansas State University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Manhattan, Kansas

Online Master’s in International Security Studies

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Minimum Time to Completion: Less Than 2 Years
Points: 5

The 30-credit hour online accelerated master’s in international relations program from Kansas State University can be completed entirely online. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and requires coursework such as the following:

  • Foundations of Security Studies
  • Terrorism and Transnational Security Issues
  • History and Security: The Middle East
  • Research Design in Security Studies

A thesis or master’s research project is also required as a culminating element of the program. Kansas State University is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award the online international relations master’s degree. U.S. News & World Report has identified the university as one of the top 80 public schools nationwide.

Graduate Tuition: $10,212

#9—Norwich University

Northfield, Vermont

Norwich University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online Master of Arts in International Relations

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Minimum Time to Completion: 18 Months
Points: 6

The accelerated online master’s in international relations offering from Norwich University is a versatile MA program featuring five distinct concentration options:

  • International Development
  • National Security
  • Cyber Diplomacy
  • International Security
  • Regions of the World

There are no core courses required for the program’s curriculum. Instead, students complete specialized coursework in their chosen concentration as well as elective classes. Depending on their area of emphasis, students will take courses such as:

  • American Foreign Policy
  • Intelligence and National Security Policy
  • The Political Economy of International Development
  • Law and the International System

Though coursework for the program can be completed entirely online, a one-week campus residency is required during the student’s culminating experience. The New England Commission of Higher Education has accredited Norwich University to award the online international relations master’s credential. The school has been ranked among the top 70 regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report.

Graduate Tuition: $17,904

#8—Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Regent University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online MA in Government: International Relations

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Minimum Time to Completion: 18 Months
Points: 6

The accelerated online international relations master’s program from Regent University is a unique MA in Government with a specialization in International Relations. The curriculum for the program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework including core government courses like:

  • American Political Thought
  • International Relations Theory
  • Christian Foundations of Government

Enrolled students will also take classes in the International Relations concentration, including:

  • S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East
  • International and Comparative Human Rights
  • International Religious Freedom

A thesis option is available but not required. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Regent University to confer the online master of international relations degree. The school has been recognized as a top national university by U.S. News & World Report.

Graduate Tuition: $15,552

#7—American Public University

Charles Town, West Virginia

american-public-university Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online MA in International Relations and Global Security

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Minimum Time to Completion: Less Than 2 Years
Points: 6

The online accelerated international relations master’s program from American Public University is a MA offering in International Relations and Global Security. Once enrolled, students are required to choose a concentration from the following options:

  • Peacekeeping
  • Comparative and Security Issues
  • International and Transnational Security Issues
  • Conflict Resolution

In addition to courses required for the chosen concentration, students will also take core courses in international relations, including:

  • International Relations Theory
  • Introduction to Global Security
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Theory and Practice
  • International Political Systems

A capstone project is also required for successful program completion. APU is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to confer this graduate degree in international relations.

Graduate Tuition: $6,615

#6—University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Top 30 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Library and Information Sciences Online for 2019

Online MA in International Relations

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Minimum Time to Completion: Less Than 2 Years
Points: 6

The accelerated online international relations master’s degree offering from the University of Oklahoma is technically a hybrid option that blends distance and traditional instruction. The 33-credit hour curriculum for the program is interdisciplinary in nature and features core courses, including:

  • Regions, Nature, and History
  • Politics, Government, and Security
  • Economics, Environment, and Geography

The remaining curriculum for the program is comprised of elective classes taken from various academic disciplines like political science, history, geography, communication, and more. The University of Oklahoma is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award the online master’s in international relations. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the 60 best public schools nationwide.

Graduate Tuition: $6,583

#5—Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online Master’s in Global Technology and Development

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Minimum Time to Completion: 18 Months

Points: 7

Arizona State University’s accelerated online master of international relations program is a Master of Science in Global Technology and Development. The curriculum for the program requires just 30 credit hours of coursework for a total of ten classes. Sample course titles include:

  • Research Design in Technology and Development
  • Technology and the International Political System
  • Development in Zones of Conflict

Graduates of the program are qualified to fill various roles in different sectors such as foreign service, technology, sustainable development, education, and social justice, for instance. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited ASU to offer the master of international relations online credentials. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the 55 best public schools in the nation.

Graduate Tuition: $11,720

#4—Salve Regina University

Newport, Rhode Island

salve-regina-university - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online Master of International Relations

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Minimum Time to Completion: 18 Months
Points: 7

Salve Regina University offers a self-paced online accelerated master of international relations program designed to be completed within 18 to 24 months. This 36-credit hour MA program features core courses such as:

  • International Political Economy
  • Comparative Political Development
  • Justice and Order in International Relations
  • Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Prevention and Responses

Though no formal concentrations are offered, students can create a customized course of study through the selection of elective classes. Salve Regina University is institutionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the 25 best regional universities in the North.

Graduate Tuition: $10,890

#3—Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia

Online MS in International Policy Management

Kennesaw State University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

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Minimum Time to Completion: 20 Months
Points: 7

The accelerated master’s in international relations online offering from Kennesaw State University is an MS in International Policy offered through the university’s School of Government and International Affairs. The program follows a cohort model and features a robust 33-credit hour curriculum. Required courses include:

  • Comparative Policy and Politics
  • Global Experience
  • World Politics and Governance

Students will also select six elective classes from offerings like the following:

  • Global Regulatory Policy
  • International Conflict Management
  • Political Risk Management

As a culminating element of the program, students will also complete a practicum or thesis. Kennesaw State is fully accredited to award this graduate degree in international affairs by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the best national universities in the country.

Graduate Tuition: $5,328

#2—Seton Hall University

South Orange, New Jersey

Seton Hall University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online Executive MS in International Affairs

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Minimum Time to Completion: 12 Months
Points: 8

Seton Hall University offers its online accelerated international affairs master’s degree program through its School of Diplomacy and International Relations. The Executive MS in International Affairs is designed for professionals with at least seven years of experience and can be completed in just one year of full-time study. The curriculum for the program can be customized around one (or two) of six available concentrations:

  • Global Health and Human Security
  • International Law and Human Rights
  • Post-Conflict State Reconstruction and Sustainability
  • International Economics and Development
  • Africa
  • Global Negotiation and Conflict Management

Regardless of concentration, all enrolled students will take core courses, including:

  • Comparative Foreign Policy
  • Public International Law
  • Art and Science of International Negotiation
  • International Political Economy (or Advanced Economic Aspects of International Relations)

Seton Hall University holds the accreditation to award the online international relations master’s degree from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It’s been named one of the country’s top national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Graduate Tuition: $23,580

#1—Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

liberty-university - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in International Relations Online

Online Master’s in International Relations

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Minimum Time to Completion: 18 Months
Points: 8

Liberty University offers a fully online accelerated master of international relations program that can be completed within just 18 months of study. Offered through the Helms School of Government, the 36-credit hour degree plan features core course titles such as:

  • Fundamentals of International Relations
  • Comparative Politics
  • S. Foreign Policy and Sovereignty Issues
  • Introduction to Geopolitics & International Diplomacy

Nine credit hours of elective classes are also required. A thesis track is optional but not required. Liberty University holds institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the leading national universities in the country.

Graduate Tuition: $7,980

About the Field of International Relations

International relations is the study of politics, economics, and the law on a global scale. It is an interdisciplinary field that combines the above fields with others that impact relationships between countries, entities, and international governing bodies. This is different from global studies, an independent discipline that focuses on the impact of social sciences and the humanities in a global context.

International relations professionals often work for the government, meaning that their primary discipline will be politics. This is just one primary discipline and there are many others that play a role in the field:

  • diplomacy
  • economics
  • the law
  • culture
  • language
  • conflict resolution
  • leadership
  • management
  • history
  • religion
  • nonprofit management

It is possible to specialize in the field; this is generally considered a sub-discipline but is really just a breakdown of the world’s regions. For example, students may choose to specialize in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, or Sub-Saharan Africa during their graduate school time. This will enable them to earn specialized positions and international posts in their regions. However, all students will learn a little bit about each region during their education. While it might be a good idea for some professionals to specialize, it is by no means a requirement for entry into the field.

International relations professionals work at every government level, in nonprofit agencies and governing bodies, as lawyers for international courts, and as advocates for certain political or humanitarian causes. They come from different backgrounds, speak different languages, and work in different places. Still, they all have one thing in common: peace and mutual respect and understanding with other cultures and countries across the world. While an undergraduate degree is a great foundation for students in this field, they will learn so much more by enrolling in an accelerated online Master’s in International Relations degree while continuing in their current career.

About Master’s in International Relations Degree Programs

Master’s degree programs in international relations are usually interdisciplinary plans of study requiring a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework in topics such as social justice, human rights, national security, and global economics. These programs are designed for students who want to advance their current roles in international affairs or who are looking for a new leadership or managerial position in the field. Master’s in international relations programs will also prepare students for further study in a doctoral program, should they decide to pursue a PhD.

About Accelerated Online International Relations Master’s Degrees

Traditionally, seeking a master’s degree in international relations required students to put their daily job and family responsibilities on the back burner while working on their graduate coursework. This is no longer the case, though, thanks to accelerated online master of international relations programs. These distance learning options enable students to complete their classes from home and at a pace that fits their schedule.

Types of Accelerated Online International Relations Master’s Degree Programs

Convenience is a factor that all online accelerated master of international relations programs share, but that doesn’t mean they’re all alike. There are different types of programs available such as hybrid, part-time, and synchronous options.

Hybrid Versus Fully Online Accelerated Master’s in International Relations Programs

Not all international relations master’s programs that are labeled as online offerings can be completed entirely online. Some of these programs require infrequent visits to campus, and others blend in-person instruction with distance learning. These offerings are hybrid programs as opposed to fully online options. While they offer less flexibility than 100% online master of international relations programs, they make up for it in regard to enhanced interactivity and student engagement.

Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Accelerated Online Master of International Relations

Even fully online master’s in international relations programs can offer differing levels of flexibility, though. The most flexible types are those that utilize asynchronous content delivery. These asynchronous programs allow students to view recorded lectures and complete coursework at their convenience. On the other hand, synchronous offerings require specific class meetings and feature real-time components such as lectures, workshops, and class discussions. Though less convenient, these programs offer students more opportunities to interact with professors and classmates, similar to how they would interact in a traditional classroom setting.

Part-Time Versus Full-Time Online Master’s in International Relations Tracks

While most accelerated online master of international relations programs require students to enroll on a full-time basis, there are a few exceptions. Part-time accelerated offerings allow students to study at a more relaxed pace and still finish their degree plans in record time. With a part-time program, you may keep your day job while also advancing your education and career opportunities in international affairs.

Online Accelerated Master of International Relations: Admissions

Like all postsecondary degree programs, an accelerated online master of international relations program will have a unique admissions requirements set. The criteria can vary from school to school, but generally will include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in international relations or related field
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA
  • Personal references
  • Admissions essay or personal statement
  • GRE scores

Some colleges and universities may have additional admissions requirements. For specific eligibility information, it’s best to speak to a school admissions counselor.

Accelerated Online Master’s in International Relations: Curriculum

You can expect the curriculum for the accelerated master’s in international relations program you select to be somewhat unique. Still, the coursework will be similar to that of other graduate degree programs in the field. These degree plans are usually interdisciplinary and cover topics related to economics, history, politics, sociology, etc. The bulk of your studies will probably be comprised of core courses. Some examples of the types of classes you’re likely to take are listed below for your reference:

Sample Core Courses

  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Diplomacy and Negotiations
  • Economics for Global Policy
  • Identity, Culture, and Communication
  • Multinational Corporate Finance
  • Islam and Politics: Religion, Power, and World Affairs
  • Inter-American Security Studies
  • Theories on the Causes of War
  • Advanced Topics in International Business
  • Human Rights

In addition to core courses, you should be prepared to select elective classes or courses designed to fulfill a specific concentration or area of emphasis.

Popular Concentrations for International Relations Master’s Online Programs

Since international relations is a rather broad field, many colleges and universities offer concentrations within the academic discipline. These specialized areas of study allow students to hone their skills and gain knowledge in a specific sub-field of international affairs. Below, we highlight three of the more popular concentrations in this particular area of study.

Global Health

An online accelerated international relations master’s degree program with a concentration in Global Health merges international affairs and healthcare fields. A student who elects such a specialty can expect to take classes such as:

  • Fundamentals of Global Health Practice
  • Global Epidemiology Policies and Programs
  • Global Health Perspectives, Politics, and Experiences in International Development

International Economics

If you’re interested in the inner workings of the global economy, you may consider an accelerated online master of international relations program with a specialty in International Economics. Coursework required for a program of this kind may include classes like:

  • International Financial Relations
  • International Political Economy
  • International Trade

National Security

Matters of national security are among the most critical topics addressed by an online master of international relations program. Students who choose to specialize in this sub-field can expect to take classes such as those listed below:

  • Contemporary American Foreign Policy
  • Military History of the United States
  • Politics of National Security Budgeting

Frequently-Searched Online Master of International Relations Programs

Harvard University: Online Master’s in International Relations—The online master’s international relations program from Harvard Extension School is a hybrid offering that requires a minimum of three on-campus courses. Both thesis and non-thesis tracks are available.

Georgetown University: Online Master of Science in Foreign Service: The accelerated international relations master’s online program from Georgetown University is an MS degree in Foreign Service. Offered through the university’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, the program features four distinct concentrations.

Liberty University: Online MS in International Relations: The accelerated master of international relations online program from Liberty University is designed to be completed within 18 months. Enrolled students can choose from both thesis and non-thesis tracks.

Northeastern University: Master’s in Global Studies and International Relations Online: The online master’s in international relations program from Northeastern University can be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis. The program features a signature experiential learning component.

Norwich University: Master of Arts in International Relations Online: The online master of international relations offering from Norwich University is a versatile program that emphasizes the real-world application of skills. Students enrolled in the program can choose from five available concentrations.

Troy University: Online MS International Relations: The online master’s in international relations program from Troy University features concentrations in Global Studies, National Security Affairs, and Regional Affairs. Students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework prior to graduation.

Tufts University: Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP): The accelerated master of international relations online offering from Tufts University is a highly accelerated hybrid program completed within just one year of study. Applicants must have eight years of prior experience in the field to be admitted to the program.

American University: Online Master of Arts in International Relations: Offered through the university’s School of International Service, the MA in International Relations program can be completed within 24 months of fully online study. The program features an optional concentration in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Accelerated Online Master’s in International Relations Programs

It’s natural to have questions when considering any educational pursuit. An accelerated online master of international relations degree program is no exception. To help you make the most informed decision about your future education and career in international affairs, our editors have fielded some commonly asked questions below. When perusing these FAQs and their answers, keep in mind that the information provided is general in nature and not intended to replace an admissions officer or counselor’s advice at any specific college or university.

Q: How much does an accelerated master’s in international relations online program cost?

A: Educational expenses will vary depending on the school you attend. In this ranking, for example, tuition costs range from under $5,000 per year to over $20,000 annually.

Q: How long does it take to complete an online master of international relations degree program?

A: The standard completion time for an online master’s in international relations program is approximately two years. However, accelerated options like the ones featured in this ranking enable students to earn their credentials in less time. Some of the programs we’ve highlighted can be completed in just one year.

Q: What’s the best online master of international relations degree program?

A: While there is no one best master’s in international relations online program for every prospective student, it is possible to find the ideal program for you by considering certain programmatic features. Some things to consider include cost, curriculum, class schedules, and accreditation.

Q: Can I complete my accelerated master’s in international relations entirely online?

A: Yes. In fact, most of the programs featured in our ranking are 100% online options.

Q: Can I study part-time?

A: Yes. Part-time online master of international relations programs are available, but these are not usually accelerated offerings. Taking fewer courses at a time can extend the length of time you’re enrolled in the program.

Career Questions About Online Accelerated Master of International Relations Online

Q: What can I do with a master’s degree in international relations?

A: Your employment and career opportunities with a master’s in international relations will be numerous and varied. Some occupations that this credential may qualify you for include:

  • Politician
  • Intelligence specialist
  • Diplomat
  • Political analyst
  • International marketing specialist
  • Foreign affairs analyst
  • International attorney

Q: How much will I make with an international relations master’s credential?

A: Your exact pay will depend on various factors, particularly your employment terms and geographical location. Still, PayScale reports the average annual salary for international relations professionals with a master’s degree to be just over $73,000 per year.

Q: What professional organizations should I join in international relations?

A: There are a number of different professional associations that extend membership to students and graduates of online master’s in international relations programs. Some of these include:

  • International Political Science Association
  • Foreign Policy Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Global Studies Consortium
  • Institute of World Politics

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in International Relations Online.

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