Career Paths

Matt Walsh

There are many jobs that promote a world free of violence and advance social justice.  The seeds of conflict germinate in many places; therefore the contributions needed to curb violence need to come from many individuals, each working for peace using their special talents.
- David J. Smith, from Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace

What can I do with a peace studies major or minor? Can a peace studies major or minor get me a job after graduation or help me get into graduate school? What is a peace job?

We recognize that questions of future employability and graduate school readiness are important to peace studies students.  As with any liberal arts program, peace studies plays an important role in exposing students to new ideas and building the skills that make them better thinkers and better citizens. This is valuable for its own sake, but it also makes peace studies students excellent candidates for employment and graduate school.

Peacebuilding includes many jobs that deal directly with preventing or ending violent conflict or helping address the consequences of violence. Most of these jobs require additional education culminating in a graduate degree, but students can eventually gain positions in areas of practice such as mediation and dispute settlement, violence prevention, conflict monitoring, disarmament, active nonviolence, policy analysis and research, diplomacy, implementation of peace processes, post-conflict reconciliation, intercultural dialogue, trauma therapy, and many others.

However, these are not the only career areas that can be considered “peace jobs.” Students can pursue peacebuilding work in forms that are less obvious but equally important.  The Strategic Peacebuilding Pathways model describes the field of peacebuilding as many interrelated activities, often happening concurrently, that are crucial to the development of a sustainable peace. Considered in this way, the options for meaningful employment in peacebuilding after graduation are much more extensive.

Students can work in areas such as community-based restorative justice, refugee resettlement services, prison system reform, social work and crisis response, immigration or human rights law, local economic development, educational reform or civics education, labor protections, political representation, victim support and reparations, human rights monitoring, environmental justice and climate change advocacy, public health policy, cultural preservation, anti-crime and corruption initiatives, nuclear non-proliferation campaigns, family law, and many others.

Peace studies also prepares students well for many forms of future education. Students can attend graduate programs in peace and conflict studies, global and international affairs, non-profit leadership, or in specific academic discipline like political science, English, or psychology that build on their primary majors. Some students choose to pursue law school with the goal of eventually working in international law, human rights law, or immigration law. Students in pre-health programs often pursue medical degrees alongside degrees in public health or global health.

Students can also apply for fellowships focused on public service, policy research or graduate education. The Scoville Peace Fellowship is a particularly good option that provides peace studies students with the chance to work on key issues of peace and security in Washington, D.C. Students can also consider programs such as the Truman Scholarship, the Rhodes Scholarship, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, the Rotary World Peace Scholarship and many others. A full list of fellowships is available from the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement

Students considering graduate study or fellowships are encouraged to meet with Dr. Ernesto Verdeja, Director of Undergraduate Studies, or other core members of the Kroc Institute faculty to discuss their options and how to prepare for these post-graduate programs.

Students with questions about career pathways and preparing for a peacebuilding job search can contact Anna Van Overberghe, Assistant Director for Academic Administration and Undergraduate Studies, or Dr. Ernesto Verdeja, Director of Undergraduate Studies, for advising and assistance.