IR Careers Masters Programs

Comparing International Relations programs with a Gender Studies Focus

Global feminist movements, self-described feminist governments and heated UN debates on sexual violence and reproductive rights have recently entrenched gender onto international policy agendas.

For many students interested in gender from a political and international standpoint, it can be hard to choose a Master’s program with this specific focus. Many universities that feature International Relations Masters programs, international development and globalization offer a few courses devoted to gender. And it is still rare to find entire programs dedicated to gender and international affairs.

On the other hand, many Gender Studies programs lack the international politics and relations perspective, and remain more focused on theoretical approaches to gender, sexuality and society in a given context or society.

While both these approaches complement each other, students might find it difficult to obtain all they are looking for in only one Master’s program. We assessed a few programs that are trying to do just that. Here are four Master’s programs of International Relations that include a Gender-focused perspective, preparing future professionals to be fully equipped to promote and defend women’s rights across the world.

MSc Gender and International Relations

University of Bristol (UK) – 1 year full time

£8,000 EU/UK – £17,800 overseas students

According to the official page of the Master’s of Sciences in Gender and International Relations, the program “examines and deploys perspectives from feminism, gender studies, cultural studies and sexuality studies, along with interdisciplinary research in international political economy, civil–military relations, international development and the study of men and masculinities”. The program structure is wide and varied, offering many classes focused on feminist theory, international relations, security, development and migration. For any student who would like to combine gender studies and international relations, this is precisely the kind of program that can provide you with the tools to work for an international organization or government structure on behalf of women’s rights.

Master’s specialization of Global Gender Studies

Aalborg University (Denmark) – 2 years

Free EU – 47,900 DKK per year for overseas students

The specialization of Global Gender Studies can be followed in two Master’s programs offered by Aalborg University:  Development and International Relations (DIR) and European Studies (ES). This specialization aims to give “a specific focus to gendered perspectives upon structures and processes in international law (including human rights), equality politics on national, transnational and international levels, global democracy and governance, international institutions and transnational actors”. Both programs include a traineeship and thesis component, which can allow the student to further develop their skills as a young professional.

Master’s specialization of Gender and Policy

School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University (USA) – 2 years


The specialization of Gender and Policy offered by the prestigious School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) is an option for students enrolled in either the Master of Public Administration or the Master of International Affairs. This specialization is built on a large wide network of specialists, practitioners and researchers and it requires the students to complete an internship. Its program aims to “stop gender-based violence, address the tensions between family organization and labor market participation, and end all forms of discrimination against LGBTI people, among many other objectives.” SIPA is one of the best schools to study international affairs and it also has dual-degree programs with other prestigious universities across the world, such as Sciences Po Paris.

MSc Gender, Development and Globalisation

London School of Economics (UK) – 1 year

£14,088 EU/UK – £21,744 Overseas students

The London School of Economics (LSE) offers a Master of Sciences program devoted to Gender, Development and Globalisation, which aims to “provide a thorough understanding of economic and social processes that shape the contemporary global world and their gendered outcomes. It considers diverse analytical tools and theoretical approaches for the analysis of development and globalisation from a uniquely gendered perspective”. The program has three compulsory courses and a wide offer of optional course unit. The student must complete an independent research project in order to graduate.


Check out our other post about International Relations Masters with a focus on women’s rights.

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