What is the Best Degree to Become a Diplomat?

While the positions and roles differ, any United States Diplomat has to represent the policies and best interests of the United States. Degrees in International Relations, law, and economics are the most likely considered degrees to become a part of foreign service, there is no requirement for education and background to become a diplomat, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Types of Diplomats

Ambassadors are the top diplomat in the US Foreign Service, and they are the President’s top representative to a foreign nation or international organization, according to the State Department. To be an ambassador, you must have negotiating skills and be able to oversee federal employees, and as many as 27 federal agencies. Foreign Service Officers work under the direction of the ambassador. They are on the ground in the country that they represent and pay attention to the politics and sensitive needs of the country and report back to Washington with their findings. They help the US government understand the intricacies of foreign societies and governments. Some other diplomatic positions include Economic Officers, Political Officers, and Consular Officers.

Higher Education

No degree is required to become part of the Foreign Service, but the minimum education that is common to diplomats is a bachelor’s degree. For positions that focus on economy or finance, a Master of Business Administration may be required. Since diplomats are commonly stationed in countries that do not speak English, it may be essential to speak more than one language. In some countries, more than 4 languages are required for diplomats.

Acceptance and Training

The process to become a Foreign Service Officer, or any diplomat, is a tough process and should not be taken lightly. Every FSO has to ass the Foreign Service Exam, which is made up of written sections, oral sections, and a negotiating exercise. After all that, you have to pass a medical exam and receive a security clearance. It has been stated, by the US Government that being accepted by the Foreign Service is more difficult than being accepted by Harvard University.

Once you are accepted into the Foreign Service, your training begins with a ten-week introduction to the Department of State, called A-100. You will be assigned an area of the world to study its history, language, political systems, and culture before being placed in that country as a representative of the United States.


There are certain traits that have been associated with diplomats that include motivation, initiative, cultural adaptability, leadership, and communication skills. Analysis and patience are required in order to assess and handle difficult situations and differences in cultural processes.

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Working within the Department of State as a diplomat can be an amazing adventure. Each year, Foreign Service Officers bid on locations around the world. FSOs with the least experience are typically assigned to locations that are more volatile and lack the comforts that Americans are accustomed to living. You will have to familiarize yourself with the process that has to be followed to become a diplomat. Benjamin Franklin once said that the qualities of a diplomat are “sleepless tact, unmovable calmness, and a patience that no folly, no provocation, no blunders may shake.”