What is a Global Studies Major and is it Right for Me?

If you’re a huge fan of social sciences like political science, economics, anthropology, sociology and geography, becoming a global studies major may be for you. If you choose to take on this course of study, you’ll be examining, comparing and contrasting different cultures and the issues they face.

What is a global studies major?

A global studies major is a broad, interdisciplinary social science major. Your classes will cover subjects areas like economics, statistics, political science, history and geography, focusing in on specific cultures and issues within each of these broader categories.

Most global studies program also offer you the ability to concentrate on a particular culture or issue, especially during your last year or two in college. For example, you may broadly study women’s issues and then narrow your personal research focus to women’s issues in Southeast Asia.

Is it right for me?

  • Before committing to the major, here are some important questions to ask yourself.
  • Am I able and excited to learn a language (and possibly even multiple languages)?
  • Do I want to (and have the financial means to) go abroad? Am I excited to immerse myself in other cultures?
  • Do I like keeping up with current events and understanding how they fit with larger historical patterns?
  • Am I able to look at the big picture of different places as well as look at them on a more culture-specific level?
  • Would I be okay with dedicating my time to a long-term project, like a capstone or thesis

What can I do with a global studies degree?

The great thing about a global studies degree is that the knowledge base is broad and gives you the ability to pursue a variety of fields based on your other interests. Some of the careers you can get with a global studies major include:

  • journalist/correspondent
  • government official
  • politician
  • international businessperson
  • lawyer
  • salesperson
  • travel guide
  • nonprofit leader
  • diplomat
  • humanitarian worker
  • educator
  • … and more

What does someone who majored in global studies earn?

Because there are many career option for global studies majors, there’s no consensus on the salary range among majors in this group. For example, a humanitarian worker is likely to have a starting salary of $25,000-$30,000 while a government worker is much more likely to be in the $40,000-$50,000 range.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Global Studies Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Global Studies Major?

Because global studies majors are studying so many different social science disciplines, knowing how to best tackle such an interdisciplinary major can be tricky. Here are several key skills you’ll need to be able to stay on top of your work and get the most out of your major.

Reading skills

Typically social science classes tend to be much more reading-intensive than other majors, so you should expect to spend lots of your time reading during the week. Being a “good” reader isn’t just about actually opening a book; it’s knowing how to take great notes and really absorb what you’re learning.

Critical thinking skills

Global studies majors need to be able to think critically about big picture issues and how they affect specific cultures and communities. Doing so requires people who can think about the bigger vision as well as small details and also apply those thoughts when trying to solve complex problems.

Problem-solving skills

Global studies majors are looking at a variety of social problems and discussing how they can be solved. The best global studies majors will be able to make compelling arguments and provide innovative solutions to issues affecting the world and these different communities.

Research skills

Global studies requires a lot of research and citing to back up claims, so you’ll have to be comfortable doing heavy research for assignments and projects and also citing your sources correctly. Additionally, streaming your research process and keeping yourself organized are a critical part of this major.

Communication skills

Whether it’s through writing or public speaking, global studies majors are constantly communicating ideas and findings to peers and professors. Doing so requires confidence in your abilities to communicate clearly and effectively regardless of the platform, the topic or your audience.


Next, learn more about this college major such as Marketing and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Write a Cover Letter.

Types of Internships for Global Studies Majors

With its strong focus on political science and economics, a global studies major can help you develop a broad range of research and critical thinking skills. It can also open up the doors to many exciting career opportunities in fields such as politics and the nonprofit sector. To find out which of these opportunities matches your skills and interests, we recommend taking on an internship.

Here are some of the most common internships for global studies majors:

Political intern (with the State Department or with a congressman)

Political internships with the Department of State or with congressmen and women are extremely prestigious and competitive. From conducting research on elections and specific candidates to drafting outreach materials and providing administrative support, there are plenty of opportunities to develop your skills while learning a lot about the field of politics. You’ll get an insider’s view of various campaigns and government activities, and have the opportunity to network with others in the field.

NGO/Nonprofit intern

While interning at a nonprofit, you’ll be working to support a cause or community. This role will give you hands-on experience working in a cross-functional capacity as well as the flexibility to gain expertise in different roles. From doing research to helping with logistics, marketing and operations, an internship at an NGO or nonprofit will give you insights into all of the trends and issues you’ve studied in your global studies classes.

Journalism intern

If you plan on branching out into digital or broadcast journalism, an internship for a newspaper or news channel is the way to go. As a journalism intern, you’ll get to research stories, observe the editing process, manage social media accounts and attend media-related events. You’ll also get to network, pitch ideas and possibly write your own articles on some of the important national and global issues you’re passionate about.

Public relations intern

Since public relations is a vital component of fields such as politics, government and entertainment, global studies majors wishing to specialize in PR can get much-needed experience through an internship. During this internship, you’ll promote the brand behind a product or individual. You’ll also get a feel for what the PR work culture is like, while learning how to develop and manage social media and publicity campaigns.

Public policy intern

From assisting with the collection of legislative research to researching and analyzing various areas of public policy or even attending conferences as a representative of the organization, a public policy internship gives students a solid understanding of how policy is enacted. Whether your internship focuses on educational reform, economic development or a humanitarian division or organization, you’ll get wonderful exposure into the procedures that play a major role in facilitating change.

Business internship (sales, marketing, operations) for a global company

Another common internship for global studies majors is a business internship with a global company. By giving you exposure to different areas of the business—like marketing, sales and operations—this type of internship will help you learn more about patterns and trends in the global market while also giving you a chance to apply what you’ve learned during your time in college.

More than anything, an internship gives you much-needed insight into the aspects of your major that you are most interested in. This is especially essential for global studies majors, given the fact that the major opens up so many possible doors.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Global Studies Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 10 Things You Should Look For In An Internship.

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Global Studies Majors

A global studies major puts you in the running for a wide range of entry-level opportunities in exciting fields like civil service, politics and education. Best of all, many of these opportunities can offer you exposure to international relations and help you put your global studies skills to use.

Some of the most common entry-level jobs for global studies majors include:

Civil service worker

A career as a civil service worker, which requires a solid understanding of national and global issues, is a great way to explore work pertaining to human rights issues, U.S. trade opportunities, business processes and the promotion of U.S. diplomatic efforts.

Congressional aide

As a congressional aide, you’ll support a congressperson in everything from researching legislative bills to organizing administrative logistics. You may also get to attend meetings with the congressperson and communicate with the public and government officials on their behalf.

Consular/embassy assistant

As a global studies major, you can also succeed as a consular assistant where your responsibilities will include immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing, conducting outreach and answering questions related to immigration policy.

Management consultant

Another exciting option that will allow you to explore your interests in business and economics is the field of management consulting. As a consultant, you’ll share your expertise and knowledge with your clients, adding a fresh perspective to each project while also coming up with results-oriented solutions.

HR for a global company

As a human resource representative for a global company, you’ll assist with day-to-day human resource functions such as employee onboarding and training, updating organizational records and employee-employer relations. Your global studies major will come in handy in preparing you to handle the needs of a diverse and multicultural staff.

Humanitarian relief worker

A job as a humanitarian aid worker (whether for a nonprofit organization or a private foundation) will take you to the frontline of areas in need of emergency aid. In this role, you’ll work with a team to coordinate emergency action programs for areas that have been affected by natural disasters or those that are located within a war zone. As an aid worker, you’ll make sure that people who are in need of aid receive it in an efficient manner.

International development consultant

An international development consultant works closely with international client-based project teams, providing direction and managing relationships while tracking the progress of specific projects and ensuring that those projects meet their goals.

International relations specialist

As an international relations specialist, you’ll focus on expanding a particular company’s international reach by analyzing business strategies and foreign policies from a global perspective. You might also be responsible for organizing public relations campaigns and communicating with international clients.


A global studies major can also give you a great start in the world of journalism. Whether you want to work as an international reporter, a foreign correspondent or on any other type of journalism that requires a global perspective, your global studies major will put you in a great position to research and write stories of global importance.

Legal assistant

If you’re interested in branching out into law, a job as a legal assistant is a great first step. As a legal assistant, you’ll assist lawyers in preparing for trials, meetings, hearings and closings. From examining evidence to drawing up contracts or other types of agreements, you’ll get a lot of exposure to the legal field and get the chance to make a real impact through your work.

Whether you’re interested in going into management consulting, journalism or civil service, a global studies major gives you an abundance of skills to land a job that’s tailored to your interests.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Global Studies Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.