Geneva, a City for Peace, Diplomacy and International Cooperation
Our International Relations department Geneva gives students exposure to the driving forces of contemporary politics, the geopolitical history that crated our modern world, the analytical skills and critical theories of political science needed to understand these dynamics — as well as unparalleled access to witness international diplomacy in action.
In the Bachelor in International Relations, students have a choice of pursuing the degree with either an emphasis in International Economics or in Migration and Refugee Studies, so they will gain added knowledge and mastery of one of these important sub-disciplines in international relations.
Students are not only exposed to the theories of international affairs, but also its realities "on the ground," including practicalities of the many states and non-state actors that represent the scope of today’s international arena. Whether studying the history of the Middle East, the fundamentals of human rights, environmental governance or the push-and-pull factors of international migration, students will learn from a rotation of both expert professors and practitioners.
The study program is further enhanced by having guest speakers from the various international bodies and field trips to designated agencies in Geneva.
“Webster Geneva Campus is one of the very few universities that can teach and train students in International Relations in a city that breathes, eats and sleeps International Relations.”
Bachelor Programs in International Relations
(links to external catalog)
Sample Courses and Instructors
Diplomatic History: team-taught by Amb. Maurizio Serra, former Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva, award-winning author, renowned historian, and Member of the Académie Française.
Conduct of Foreign Policy: taught by Dr. Francis Piccand, a senior Swiss career diplomat, who is in charge of the Swiss foreign affairs’ desk for Middle East North Africa (MENA).
The Politics of the Developing World: taught by Dr. Jubin M. Goodarzi, renowned expert of the Syrian-Iranian relations, former consultant and political advisor to Ms. Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1990-2000.
Theories of Human Rights: taught by Dr. Elodie Tranchez, Human Rights Officer at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Geneva was chosen after WWI as the home for the League of Nations, which created the traditions for what is today’s United Nations. The UN Office in Geneva still remains the U.N.’s largest hub outside of New York City.
As home to 38 official International Organizations and representation of International Missions from over 179 States, Geneva is unequivocally the world’s primary hub for Multilateral Affairs. There are also hundreds of international NGOs, from Amnesty International to the WWF, that conduct international advocacy in Geneva, some of whom maintain their EU headquarters here.
Traditions of Humanitarian Action also began in Geneva, with the founding of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Geneva is also now home to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and hosts the Human Rights Council for its annual meetings (over 2-3 weeks) three times per year, which include many public side events.
While Geneva is a small by world standards (about 500,000 total residents), over 30,000 people employed directly in these various International Orgs, NGOs and permanent missions.
Collectively, the United Nations, International Organizations, NGOs and State Missions to the UN are known as “Genève Internationale.”
All U.N. languages are used in official meetings, yet English is the prevailing second language among the large majority of Geneva’s citizens.
What organizations advertise internships at Webster?
Each year, dozens of International Organizations, UN agencies and NGOs advertise internships that are open for students to apply. These include world-renowned foundations as well as small not-for-profits. Webster’s Career Services staff help to match students with available opportunities. In recent years, internship announcements came from UNICEF, the International AIDS Society, UNITAR, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Council of Churches, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, OAK Foundation, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, to name a few!
Can I be paid as an intern?
Each year, there are options both for paid and for unpaid internships. Some internships require work eligibility (either Swiss/EU citizenship or family resident permits that allow work); yet others are within International Organizations in Geneva from the United Nations and its agencies to specialized NGOs like The Global Fund or the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Can I do an internship during the academic year or only during summer?
Academic Internships are organized between the school and the employer; generally, these need to coincide with the academic calendar (Fall semester, Spring semester, or Summer term).
Other internship opportunities are sometimes dependent upon the employer’s need. They may have an annual internship program (advertised in advance) or have ‘just-in-time’ needs about which they advertise for immediate placement.
How many hours of work are typically required?
This depends on the needs of the organization. A typical Academic Internship (which earns 3 credits — equal to one course — toward your graduation) would be 14 hours of work per week during a 16-week semester.
What skills will I need for making an internship?
Interns are often hired for a combination of knowledge (from their major) and skills they bring, from language skills to media and website development skills. Many students in IR will pursue electives in media or even marketing, to support their CV as they develop the tool kit they need to earn an internship or a job after graduation.
Why Study International Relations at Webster in Geneva?
- Learn in International Geneva, the world’s largest center for multilateral diplomacy, where 40% of citizens were born outside of Switzerland.
- Pursue an internship with one of the United Nations agencies, international organizations or NGOs based in Geneva.
- Study in on a small campus of a few hundred, who represent about 90 nationalities each year, between students and professors.
- Attend public workshops, guest speaker presentations and expert panels, including Webster’s annual International Humanitarian and Security Conference — where you can meet diplomats and world officials.
- Join and contribute to the Webster Humanitarian Association, a student-led NGO.
- Webster’s campus is less than five kilometers from — and six minutes by train from campus — from the United Nations district of Geneva!
Webster Geneva Campus offers a Master of Arts in International Relations. IR bachelor majors can choose to continue their studies directly (provided they have a 2.5/4.0 scale) in our master’s program (often in combination with an internship), or to apply to specialized master programs at other universities.
Alumni from our International Relations program also recently enrolled in top master's programs, including:
MPhil in Education, Globalization and International Development, Cambridge University,
MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, London School of Economics, London, U.K.
MA in Public Policy, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany
MSc in Leadership and Development, King’s College, London
MA in Peace and Conflict Studies, Oslo University, Norway
MA in Political Communication, John Hopkins University, U.S.A.
Prev. Certificate in International Law, University of Geneva
MA in International Conflict Studies, King’s College, London, U.K.
“Transferring to Webster was hugely positive because, as an IR student, I could not have received better exposure to the field in any city other than Geneva.”
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