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International Relations

Developing an understanding of international policy and global governance can help public servants apply their passion for improving lives to communities around the world. Students who choose this concentration take cross-university courses to focus their studies in international relations and build essential skills to take on a variety of leadership roles in the international community.

What Can Students Accomplish in the International Community with an MPA Degree?

Earning an MPA degree prepares students for a career as a public service leader. By focusing their studies on international relations, students will be able to apply core leadership skills to global concepts such as intercultural communication, economic development, international law, and conflict resolution.

The skills that students develop in the international relations focus area will prepare them for careers in areas such as:

  • NGO and nonprofit management
  • Government administration
  • Embassy and diplomacy work
  • Program and project management
  • International development
  • Intercultural communications and negotiation
  • Foreign and public policy
  • National security


Courses in this focus area are offered in conjunction with the American University School of International Service (SIS), one of the nation’s top-ranked schools of international relations. Classes and coursework can be completed using the same technology as MPA @ UNC courses and are designed for students to gain foundational knowledge of international relations. Students will learn how to apply the core skills of public service leaders to careers in the international arena.

Students who want to pursue an international relations focus must earn credit in three courses from the listing of electives below:

  • International Studies: History, Theory, Practice (3 credits)
  • Intercultural Communication (3 credits)
  • Global Governance (3 credits)
  • Politics of Global Development (3 credits)
  • The Making of United States Foreign Policy: Institutions and Processes (3 credits)

You can view the complete selection of international relations courses in the course section.

The faculty advisor for the international relations focus area is Bill Rivenbark.

Faculty Contact for this Focus Area