A degree in international history and politics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva can lead to a career as an international historian and it also provides a set of tools for a practical career in politics and diplomacy as well as in the private sector. The same methods that make for a great international historian are a tremendous, indeed indispensable asset in the world of global politics. Of particular importance are the ways that historians illuminate the political relevance of questions of meaning, culture, mentalities and deep economic structures, locally and globally.

The International History and Politics Department at the Graduate Institute prepares you for an international career.

From academe to diplomacy to the corporate sector by way of the media, foundations and think-tanks effective analysis and practice of current international affairs need the contribution of an appropriate historical contextualisation and knowledge and this is what we offer to our master and PhD students helping them secure that quality advantage.

Through historical methodology, such as qualitative and textual analysis, applied research seminars conducted with practitioners in partner organisations, archival research and attention to structural change and continuities over time, students study international politics, policy-making, political systems and institutions, transnational actors and actions, and the history of culture, societies, markets and environment in a regional and/or global perspective.

Studying International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute means acquiring a quality of training, an international network and a practical experience. It also means living in a city, Geneva, where international cooperation happened, happens and will continue to happen.

Past and present cohorts of master and PhD students have been extremely successful and are now employed in the private and public sector.

Master Student Placement After Graduation

Data collected since 2008 reveals that after graduation, the International History and Politics master students have been employed in all four sectors:

  • The third sector attracted 31% of our alumni, from which most graduates work for NGOs or think tanks.
  • The next favourite division is represented by the public sector, where 28% of our graduates work for international organisations and the Swiss Federal Administration amongst other institutions.
  • 24% of our master graduates either continued their studies towards a PhD or conducted research as part of an academic institution.
  • The private sector accounted for 17% of our students who are working for a wide range of companies.


PhD Student Placement After Graduation

Information gathered since 2008 indicates that International History and Politics PhD graduates have been employed in all four sectors:

  • The academic sector was the most popular with 47% of our alumni conducting research as part of an academic institution.
  • The public sector appealed to 25% of our alumni, from which the majority work for international organisations.
  • The third sector attracted 19% of graduates, with most working for foundations.
  • The private sector accounted for 9% of our PhD graduates, most of who work for multinationals.

Why Study International History and Politics?

Giulia Valacchi


Frank Afari (Ghana), PhD Candidate in International History and Politics

"I had my previous university education in Ghana where I was brought up mainly on the nation-centred historiographical tradition that privileged the centrality of the state as an analytical category for studying history. Afterwards, I enrolled in the Graduate Institute’s International History and Politics (IHP) doctoral programme to undertake a study of the human rights violations associated with the various political upheavals in Ghana’s post-colonial history.

I encountered a faculty comprising top flight minds with expertise grounded in a combination of intersecting themes and specialisations cutting across transnational and regional spaces. Along with its diverse student population, representing some of the brightest students from all continents, I found myself in a truly stimulating intellectual environment. Through the doctoral seminars, lectures, tutorials, colloquia, discussions with my supervisors, and regular public lectures, international history has come alive to me in an exciting way.

Whether looking at the histories of transnational terrorism, financial markets, conflicts, humanitarian crises, nationalism, migration or identity politics, students of the IHP Department are exposed to a wide range of historiographies, which condition them to think cross-culturally and transnationally. Besides, IHP equips students with the methodological and conceptual approaches that are attentive to how the interactive dynamics of international relations shape the internal politics of nation states. Since I began my PhD project here, I have had the privilege of serving as a Teaching Assistant, which has afforded me the unique opportunity to reshape and perfect my research and teaching skills through guided practice in the institute’s international environment."

Efrat Gilad


Efrat Gilad (Israel), PhD Candidate in International History and Politics

"What I value most about the Graduate Institute is the diversity of students and faculty members.

There is no better way to challenge your own premises than in a seminar – or a brainstorming session over coffee – with a group of open-minded peers who come from different countries and speak different languages. This stimulating environment is exactly what I desired when I applied to the Institute.

While I cherish the years I spent at Tel Aviv University, the past year at the Graduate Institute has challenged me more than ever before. Just one year ago, I was living in Tel Aviv, graduating cum laude, holding a Research Assistant position, and was well on my way to a PhD. Still, I felt limited. I was in need of a major challenge, a completely new perspective in order to deconstruct narratives that were confining me as a historian and as a person. Due to its diversity, the Institute is not confined to any narrative and a critical reflection is almost built directly into this institution. For me, this is priceless.

At the Graduate Institute I found faculty members who know you by name and encourage you to follow your passion. The International History and Politics programme is rigorous and the professors are demanding, but they are also very generous with their time and advice.

Today, I am inspired and energised and feel that I have found a home from which I can pursue my academic goals. I am again on my way to a PhD, but the one I always wanted to write, not the one I thought I should write.

Finally, the Institute’s location in the heart of International Geneva is ideal. Not only does this promote diversity, but the abundance of international organisations and archives within reach are imperative for a well-grounded, globally conscious historian."

Aditya Kiran


Aditya Kiran Kakati (India), PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in International History and Politics

"International History is a field that was entirely new for me when I joined the Graduate Institute four years ago as an MA student. I have continued to study here as I have continually found the space to explore novel openings and have received great direction and support.

Now in the second year of my PhD, I have been able to pursue a minor in Anthropology and Sociology of Development that has greatly expanded the intellectual landscape I am exposed to. This is a unique opportunity that the Institute provides and I decided to continue to study here in order to avail myself of this opportunity. This interdisciplinary exposure has allowed me to reflect more strongly on my own work as well as on the discipline of history. My professors have been greatly supportive of my pursuit of multidisciplinary themes during my PhD in order to allow my perspectives to grow and curiosities to be sparked further. Additionally, the right guidance has been provided to channel this exposure productively.

I have also been involved in the Department as a teaching assistant; this experience has significantly nurtured my intellectual and pedagogical capacity. We perhaps combine the right balance between pedagogical instruction and pursuing our own research. The faculty members, apart from being highly distinguished in their own fields, also possess diverse and interesting personality traits. Our engagement with them is also personal, and having greater access to them provides us with an environment that extends beyond just academic guidance.

Our small and closely knit community, the highly international landscape of students and our relationships provide an ideal milieu in which to broaden our spectrum of thought, history and everything else in between."

Jonathan Schmitt


Jonathan Matthew Schmitt (United States of America), PhD Candidate in International History and Politics

"As an American historian working on a critical history of the United States, it may at first seem strange that I chose to do my PhD at the Graduate Institute. My work, however, focuses on US history embedded in an international context that is only legible with reference to the larger world of which it was and is a part. The Department of International History and Politics at the Institute is the ideal place to pursue a project like this.

The Department provides students with the opportunity and the tools to approach their studies in more complex and innovative ways than do many other graduate history programmes around the world. At the Institute, students are immediately encouraged to engage particular historical questions, as always part of a larger field of questions, and never to isolate the history of a single culture, society or nation from the broader, global historical current.

The Department’s faculty is unparalleled and the intellectual environment they foster is both challenging and collegial (a combination one rarely finds). The students here take scholarship very seriously and those that I have had the pleasure to get to know are not only working on fascinating and relevant topics, they are also genuinely committed to the historical discipline. In my experience, the Department of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute is among the vanguard of contemporary historical studies and I count myself very fortunate to be a part of it."

International History and Politics | Student Perspectives

Farzan Sabet
Farzan Sabet | M.A. (2012) and PhD (2017)

I spent some of the best years of my life completing the International History and Politics masters and Ph.D programmes at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

I was able to pursue my passion for history and politics at a world class institution in Geneva – a hub of international affairs – with leading scholars and smart and diverse fellow students.

The programmes expanded my horizons beyond narrow conceptions of historical and social science ideas. Coursework, papers, and dissertations as well as debates with professors and fellow students were templates for my work today as a researcher at the juncture of history, international politics, and the United Nations.

And, as I advance in life, the International History and Politics and Geneva Graduate Institute networks continue to pay dividends by enriching my professional, social, and intellectual lives.

Mona Bieling
Mona Bieling | M.A. (2017) and PhD Candidate (Class of 2023)

I came to the Institute to follow the MA program in International History and then stayed on for the PhD program as well. During my time at the Institute, I came to appreciate the education I received at the International History and Politics Department for its emphasis on discussion and critical thinking.

Classes at the History department are usually small – I once even had a seminar with only two students! – and they encourage the active exchange among students, as well as with the teaching staff. Moreover, the department’s curriculum is flexible and slightly changes every year to adjust to students’ interests and the development of current affairs. For example, in response to the Russian war against Ukraine, the department will offer two new courses next year that will dive deeper into the history of the post-Soviet space and Russian foreign relations.

Professors at the department stand out for their approachability, be it for a quick informal chat in the department’s kitchen or a longer session discussing research interests and career paths. Most importantly, the History department is a unique space for students who want to shape their own educational experience. The department’s small size and collegiality allow for students’ active input, for example with regards to organizing new event formats or inviting guest speakers and lecturers. As a motivated, creative, and proactive student, you will find the History department to be a space for exponential growth, academically and personally.  

Katharina Fletcher
Katharina Fletcher | M.A. Candidate (Class of 2023)

There are many things that make studying at the Geneva Graduate Institute an enriching and engaging experience, personally I have found the curriculum, the professors, and the countryside to be the most fulfilling elements of my time here with the International History and Politics Department.

The curriculum is one of the most relevant you will find when reading for an MA in history and politics. The modules constantly evolve to reflect the shifting landscape of international politics, ensuring students have a historical perspective on contemporary geopolitics. By focussing on the continuities between the past and the present, the IHP Department feels connected to global developments which I really appreciate in an academic setting. The professors are excellent not just for their expertise on their own subject matter, but also for their ability to advise you in courses beyond their own. I have gone to many professors’ office hours to discuss papers from courses they do not teach and have always received relevant reading recommendations and feedback. The readiness of professors to discuss issues with students in the classroom and in their office hours makes the department a really welcoming and stimulating place.

The department’s emphasis on teaching thematically instead of isolating their modules to specific regions forces a more analytical perspective on history. Tracing how ideas and patterns interlink across different spaces and become reflected in the present ensures you gain a comprehensive understanding for how the complexities of the past clarify the puzzles of the present. On a final note, the accessibility of Swiss nature with the efficient public transport system means that you are provided with many opportunities for walks, runs, hikes, swims, and cycle rides, making the institute a unique place to study.

Shivangi Behera
Shivangi Behera | M.A. (Class of 2022)


I found out about the International History and Politics department through a friend in the Development Studies programme when I was looking for a two-year master’s programme that could provide me with a strong formal training in the discipline. After initial research, this seemed to be the perfect springboard for my career. The department, apart from being historic, boasts of a group of professors who present expertise in a gamut of sub-fields within the discipline.

With the addition of new faculty members in the last two years, the selection of courses offered by the department has only gotten richer. This allowed me to not only diversify my interests but also pursue them meaningfully over a course of time – I was able to plan my semesters with complementary courses for a comprehensive understanding of a topic of my choosing. The possibility of a semester exchange makes the experience of being a part of this department even more interesting. I conducted fieldwork for my thesis in India, which added another dimension of learning during my time at the department.

At the end of two years, my rigorous training makes me feel confident to contribute meaningfully not only to the field of academia but also to policy making, research, and a host of other industries. The possibility of being awarded a full scholarship enriches the entire experience of engaging with the department – my studies at the department was fully-funded and that made a world of difference. 

Class Representatives

The class representatives for the Master and PhD programmes at the Graduate Institute, engage with students to ensure their views on academics are continually represented. If you have questions about student life at the Institute, please feel free to contact one of our class representatives.

PhD Representative


Naomi Samake-Bäckert

Naomi Samake-Bäckert
PhD Candidate in International History and Politics



1st year Masters class representative


David Leanza

David Leanza
Master in International History and Politics (First year)


JoinT 2nd Year Masters Class Representatives


Kate and Sophie Class 23 M2reps

Sophie Moosmann
Master in International History and Politics (Second Year)

Ekaterina (Kate) Tarasova
Master in International History and Politics (Second Year)