A Top International Security Program: The Gateway to Intelligence Jobs

Author: Notre Dame International Security Center

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To say the world would benefit from a better sense of understanding is an understatement. With raging wars and the potential for more of them, pandemics, and climate change, this is surely a moment in history that will shape the future for years to come. The world needs scholars and innovators in the international security and international relations fields. Students all over the world understand this, which is why they’re looking for an international security program to nurture their interest and desire to help make the world a better place for future generations. 

There are many reasons why students at any phase in their academic journey may decide to study international relations (IR) and international security. In addition to the research, communication, and interpersonal skills you’ll learn, studying international security also gives you a view into environmental issues, ethics of technology, conflict resolution, and global health. For many students, IR studies are also the first step on an exciting career path. But choosing the right international security program is exceptionally important. So, what should aspiring IR scholars look for when searching for the right program for them? 


1. An Experienced Faculty 

International relations is, inherently, a high stakes sector within politics. Therefore, to have the education and understanding you need to be effective in the real world, you need a team of experts who have the experience and the wisdom that comes with it. Want to work in the Pentagon? Having someone you can turn to for advice and guidance is an invaluable resource. 

When considering which program is right for you, investigate the faculty’s research library and publications. The variety of topics the faculty has researched and written about is important for your education because many of these topics interrelate and have bearing on each other, but the depth of their research is also important. Great professors are specialists in specific areas and have the ability to set your career on the path towards deeper understanding. Are you curious about how fossil fuels inform diplomatic decisions? Want to know about how pre-emptive and preventive war? Professors who have devoted years to researching such topics have a depth of knowledge and have the desire to teach about them. 


2. Undergraduate, Fellowships, and Postdoctoral Education 

For students at any stage in their academic journey, the education that comes with international security studies is of immense value. Different jobs require differing levels of education, and while there is great value in seeking out different programs to seek that education, other students enjoy going through their entire postsecondary education at the same institution. Whether you’re a high school student getting ready for college, a college student seeking a fellowship, or a postdoctoral student pursuing continuing knowledge of issues like Grand Strategy, an international security program that offers what you need is critical. 


3. Taking Education Off Campus 


International relations is, by definition, a global study. One of the ways top international security programs emphasize this is through immersive learning experiences in different places. Why read about Thucydides and his History of the Peloponnesian War when you can read Thucydides in Athens? If you want to know about the Manhattan Project, going to the place where it happened would undoubtedly be an enriching experience. The Vietnam War represents a low point in recent history, but it is a historic country with lessons to teach IR scholars.  

There is a big world outside the classroom; the best international security programs recognize and celebrate this, so they want to take students to the places where history happened. 


4. Bringing Experts to Campus 

Even though there is a lot to learn outside the classroom, the education that happens on campus is still central to the program and its students. As great as the program’s faculty is, there are areas that they aren’t experts in, so they invite people who are to talk about their research and give students the opportunity to engage with different voices.  

Did you know there is an internationally recognized treaty addressing how countries can use their space programs? Or that there’s a history of world leaders feigning insanity to get their way? Have you ever listened to a congressional staffer talk about how ordinary people create a more equitable world? Elite international security programs welcome guest speakers to teach students about emerging issues in the modern world. 


5. A Strong Alumni Network 

One of the hallmarks of any great academic program is the alumni who emerge out of the program and into the world. Not only do top programs themselves help students find their next destination, but the connections the alumni form can also help identify it—whether that’s a full-time job in the international security field or the next level of education. NDISC specifically has a tradition of alumni helping recent graduates get settled into their new homes if they need it. 


The need for international security programs and the students who immerse themselves in the education these programs provide is of great importance in the modern world. If IR scholarship is in your future, consider the education NDISC provides students at all phases in their academic journey. Interested in learning more? Contact us today! We’re excited to talk to you!