International Relations (MA)
Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.
The MA in International Relations offers outstanding preparation for students seeking a profession that requires comprehensive knowledge of world affairs and strong analytical and critical-thinking skills.
Examples of the diverse roles of our graduates include:
- Policy advisor at a ministry of foreign affairs;
- Communications manager and project assistant at an NGO promoting reconciliation and peace;
- Consular spokesperson at a ministry of foreign affairs;
- Consultant at an NGO;
- Project manager at a company specialising in geo-services, international development and project management;
- PhD candidate and research assistant;
- Communications officer at an international student federation.
Your master will qualify you for a wide-range of roles in almost every sector of the employment market. Many of our graduates work for public services, research institutes, international organisations, government bodies, NGOs, education, communications, policy development, political institutes and academia, amongst others.
A Leiden University degree
Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.
Graduated in European Union Studies
"After graduating and finishing a seven month internship with the EEAS (European External Action Service) in South Korea, I got hired by the Boston Consulting Group in London within their Data and Research Services team. Hence, I am now living in London (UK) since July 2016 where I work as an associate analyst."
Monitoring the Brexit negotiations
"The nature of my job now entails handling busy consultants and supporting them in their analysis with quantitative and qualitative research approaches through databases such as Bloomberg, Datastream and Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. I am now aiming to work more within the area of financial regulations and I am monitoring the Brexit negotiations and strategies with much fascination."
A unique practical perspective on EU politics
"The toughest challenge for my education was to specialise. With a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, my undergraduate education was very broad and I wanted to focus on a more specific policy area. The Master’s programme in European Union Studies at Leiden University offered a unique practical perspective on EU politics which is the major reason why I decided to complete this master."
Graduated in International Relations
"Being from my own cultural background, from the U.S., I came to Leiden with a certain view on the world. Through studying International Relations I acquired much more cultural sensitivity about certain issues. I learned about the impression the U.S. leaves on the world, which opened up my world to different viewpoints.”
Recruiting students for our study abroad programmes
"I currently work at CISabroad, a studying abroad organization that has affiliations with over 200 U.S. universities. For the most part I recruit students for our study abroad programmes, but I also arrange the logistics of some of the student trips abroad."
" As a lecturer I found Lindsay Black very inspirational. He is a very smart man and I owe him a drink or two for being so helpful during the process of writing my thesis."
Graduated in European Union Studies (MA International Relations)
“After graduating European Union Studies I started with a graduate-traineeship in Brussels with the Benelux Union. European Union Studies is a really good start if you want to work in Brussels. Everyone here is expected to have a high level of EU knowledge, something that you will be taught in Leiden.”
My training in EU law at Leiden was very helpful “My first job was doing research on the implications of two pieces of EU-legislation on cross border healthcare in Europe, and specifically within the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. My training in EU law at Leiden was actually very helpful because I knew instantly where to look for information, official documents and probably even more important, how to read all these documents without getting lost. “
Advising on risks and opportunities that arise from EU-decisions “After that I got a job with Harwood Levitt Consulting, a Brussels based public affairs and political risk strategy consultancy. Here I work for and with clients in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector, advising them on risks and opportunities that arise from EU-decisions, as well as their messaging and other communications with EU-institutions, trade associations etc. “
A high level of EU knowledge “It helped me to have knowledge on EU law and EU institutions, because I deal with this in my work every day. All the other courses are perhaps less relevant for my current job, but especially important if you get in touch with others in Brussels and talk about what’s going on, you need to have a broad knowledge of what is happening. That is why networking, reading the news papers and getting the latest rumours is a must in the Brussels bubble.”
In which sector do students find jobs?
The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA International Relations 2016-2020.
- 36 % Government and semi-government organisations
- 13 % Non-profit
- 11 % Consultancy
- 8 % Education
- 7 % Financial institutions
- 5 % Media and journalism
- 4 % Communication and marketing
- 3 % IT
- 3 % Business services
- 2 % Information management
- 8 % Other
How successful are they in finding a job?
- 81 % found a job within two months
- 90 % found their first job at academic level
The master’s programme in International Relations at Leiden University aims to equip you with a range of important transferable skills and knowledge that will help you stand out in your future career. Your specialised knowledge is complemented by a broad and contextual understanding as well as critical-thinking skills that can be applied to complex conceptual problems. In class, we encourage every student to participate in discussions to develop their ability to clearly and confidently articulate their ideas as well as fine-tune their logic and reasoning abilities. Other skills you may encounter in the various International Relations courses are:
- Self-directed learning
- Creative thinking
You will have the opportunity to gain experience working an as intern in an organisation in the Netherlands or abroad. This experience is highly valued within international organisations, as are strong communication skills. Organisations where students from the MA International Relations programme may find an internship include:
- Security Policy Department (DVB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Dutch Ministry of Defense
- NGOs, for example Gender Concerns International or NGO’s focused on humanitarian aid
- Think tanks, such as the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’, the International Centre for Counterterrorism and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies
- Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies around the world (Latvia, Washington, USA, South Africa, etc)
- European institutions - examples include Estonian presidency of the European Union, internships for members of the European Parliament
- Media outlets such as Een Vandaag in Hilversum.
- Netherlands Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Please note that you will need to find your own internship, follow an internship procedure for approval, and that pursuing an internship may have consequences for the date of your graduation.
Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.
The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities.
The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.
Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!
Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network
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