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2021 In-Demand Careers in International Affairs

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George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government

Career Opportunities in International Security Stay Strong During Pandemic

More than a year into the pandemic, the career trajectory for students in George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government remains solid. While many industries have been hard-hit, the skills that students are acquiring in the Schar School are still in high demand.

“Our students graduate with a wide range of cross-disciplinary knowledge, as well as training in leadership skills. They know how to assess an issue and adapt to new challenges. If anything, the pandemic has only highlighted the need for employees with this kind of background,” says Ellen Laipson, director of the school’s Master’s in International Security program and the Center for Security Policy Studies.

Though many traditional recruiting and hiring practices have been disrupted, employers now host Facebook Live sessions and conduct recruiting events via YouTube live broadcast sessions, according to Duane Bradshaw, director of the school’s career development office. While in-person events are not an option, the Schar School has hosted virtual job fairs and worked with students one-on-one over video calls to prepare them for the challenges of today’s job search.

“With the change in administration, there may be a replenishment of the State Department or other federal agencies. Trends in employment will be affected, and we are making sure our students are positioned for success,” says Laipson, who previously served as vice chair of the National Intelligence Council.

“The International Security program at the Schar School prepares students to handle enduring and emerging challenges—a skill set that has never been more in demand.” –Ellen Laipson, Director, Master’s in International Security program, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Many graduates who earned an MA in International Security work for the US federal government, including the departments of Homeland Security, Treasury, and Energy; and agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Others work as staff members for representatives in Congress. International Security graduates also are employed in the private sector, sometimes for federal government consultants such as Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, and Lockheed Martin.

While the Master’s in International Security program works well for someone just starting their career, more than half of the students in the program already hold jobs in the national security field. Many students take Schar School classes part-time—working around their full-time jobs—to help advance their career. The program also serves as a powerful career network within security fields that otherwise may be difficult to break into.

Students often select the Schar School because they want to learn from faculty who are internationally recognized for their work in Washington, DC, including former directors of the CIA, FBI, and NSA and senior White House advisers, as well as other renowned experts in security-related fields.

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