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Shaping Global Perspectives: Public Policy Careers For International Studies Students  – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Shaping Global Perspectives: Public Policy Careers for International Studies Students

Dr Arjun Kumar

Students pursuing international studies in India often find themselves equipped with a diverse set of skills and a deep understanding of global affairs. This academic background opens up a plethora of career opportunities, and one compelling avenue is a career in public policy. Public policy plays a pivotal role in shaping the socio-economic landscape of a country, and individuals with a background in international studies can bring a unique perspective to this field. In this article, we will explore the significance of public policy, the skills required for success, and the various career paths available for international studies graduates in the dynamic landscape of Indian public policy.

Understanding Public Policy and International Studies :

Public policy refers to the decisions and actions taken by governments to address societal issues and challenges. It encompasses a wide range of areas, including education, healthcare, economic development, environmental sustainability, and international relations. Public policy professionals analyze problems, propose solutions, and implement strategies to create positive societal change.

Skills for Success in Public Policy:

  1. Analytical Skills: International studies graduates possess strong analytical skills, allowing them to dissect complex global issues and propose effective solutions—a crucial skill in the realm of public policy.
  2. Research Skills: Public policy decisions are data-driven. Graduates with research skills can gather and analyze information to inform policies and assess their impact.
  3. Cross-Cultural Competence: Understanding different cultures is a valuable asset in a globalized world. International studies students bring cross-cultural competence, crucial for developing policies that are inclusive and considerate of diverse perspectives.
  4. Communication Skills: Effective communication is at the heart of successful policy implementation. Graduates can articulate ideas clearly, making them compelling advocates for their proposed policies.
  5. Critical Thinking: The ability to think critically is vital in evaluating the potential consequences of policy decisions. International studies students are trained to assess information critically, an essential skill in the policy-making process.

Career Paths in Indian Public Policy:

  1. Government Agencies: Graduates can work with various government bodies such as the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Finance, or the NITI Aayog, contributing to the development and implementation of policies that shape the country’s future.
  2. Think Tanks and Research Institutions: Joining think tanks like the Centre for Policy Research or Observer Research Foundation provides opportunities to conduct in-depth research on international and domestic issues, influencing policy discussions.
  3. International Organizations: Organizations like the United Nations or the World Bank offer platforms for graduates to contribute to global policy initiatives, leveraging their international studies background.
  4. NGOs and Non-Profit Organizations: Working with non-governmental organizations allows graduates to address social issues, advocate for change, and implement policies that directly impact communities.
  5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Many corporations in India engage in CSR activities, and international studies graduates can play a pivotal role in developing and managing initiatives that align with corporate and societal goals.
  6. Diplomacy and Foreign Service: A career in diplomacy, representing India on the global stage, is an appealing option for those with a passion for international relations.
  7. Academia: Pursuing higher education and entering academia enables graduates to contribute to the field through teaching, research, and mentorship.

Challenges and Opportunities:

While the field of public policy offers exciting opportunities, it comes with its share of challenges. The policy landscape is dynamic, influenced by political, economic, and social factors. Navigating bureaucratic processes and addressing resistance to change can be demanding. However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation and positive impact.


For students of international studies in India, a career in public policy provides a fulfilling avenue to contribute meaningfully to societal development. The diverse range of career paths allows graduates to align their interests and expertise with areas that resonate with them the most. With the right skills and passion, international studies graduates can play a crucial role in shaping policies that address global challenges and contribute to building a more equitable and sustainable future for India and the world.

Dr Arjun Kumar is the Director of the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organisation.

This article was posted by Tanu Paliwal , a research intern at IMPRI.

Read more by the author: 

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Crafting Narratives: Public Policy Careers for Journalism Students in India

  • IMPRI Desk
  • Arjun KumarArjun Kumar

    Arjun Kumar is the Director of the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. With training in development economics, he specialises in quantitative and qualitative research methods, econometrics and the use of statistical software to crunch big data. He has been a Visiting Faculty at the Institute for Human Development (IHD) amongst others and has been associated with several think tanks, research institutes, governments, civil society organisations, and private enterprises. He is President of a Jharkhand based NGO (registered in 2010), Manavdhara- a youth social organisation working for humanitarian causes in backward regions and for marginalised communities. He has also taught Economics at the University of Delhi. His research interests are in the economy, development studies, housing and basic amenities, urban and regional research, inclusive and sustainable development, data and evidence-based policy, and, research methods. He has several research publications to his credit and has experience of being involved in research projects of international and national repute. He is also a member and part of various government and non-government formed committees, groups, and advisory boards overseeing the deliberation as subject matter expert and for possessing strong research acumen. He is an avid writer and frequently writes on various dimensions of economic issues, policies, and their impact for several eminent media platforms.


    IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.


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