Top universities that prepare future leaders for a career in politics and global affairs

LUISS School of Government
Source: LUISS School of Government

What do world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and South Korean President Moon Jae-In have in common? Career-launching academic credentials. 

Their subjects? Public affairs, governance, economics, and law – time-tested fields of value to anyone with the hopes and goals to govern at the state, national and international levels.

These subjects are mainstays at many, if not most, universities around the world. A decade ago, debates in their lecture halls may revolve around affirmative action, Thatcherism and Reaganomics, or embarrassing White House scandals. Today, they are geared towards international terrorism, mass migration, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the climate crisis, to name some dynamic topics enlivening campus discourses today. 

Whether you’re a young MP-to-be or a senior civil servant, these programmes are valuable additions to your repertoire of skills, knowledge and experience. Follow in the footsteps of Macron, Sánchez and Moon – here are four universities with well-reputed degrees in governance that will set you up for success: 

Luiss School of Government

The Luiss School of Government (SoG) is nestled in the enchanting city of Rome, Italy. This graduate school specialises in training high-level public and private officials to handle political and government decision-making processes. In 2016, SoG became part of an Europe-wide network of 101 elite research institutions when it was recognised as one of the Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence. 

LUISS School of Government

Source: LUISS School of Government

Whether you have an interest in public policy or economic governance, there’s a career-advancing programme for you here. SoG’s Master in European Studies: EU Institutions and Public Policy (MES) programme, held in partnership with CIFE (Centre International de Formation Européene), for instance, aims to train future experts in the affairs, policies, and institutions within the EU. The MES will equip you to understand the political, economic and cultural dynamics – including topics such as migration, security, and the Common Market – among key EU actors, as well as between the EU and external forces.

Their Joint Master in Global Economic Governance and Public Affairs programme elucidates how one can monitor, manage and improve the governance of public and private institutions through the use of a wide range of economic and digital intelligence tools. Students will also have the chance to study in Berlin, Germany and Nice, France as part of the programme.

For SoG’s Joint Master in EU Trade and Climate Diplomacy programme, this is an opportunity to gain the analytical and strategic skills to enforce the EU’s leadership in fair digital trade, circular economy, and climate action. Given the partnership with CIFE, students also have the option to study in Berlin and Nice. 

Their Master of Arts in International Public Affairs is a multi-disciplinary course that will give you an overview of all the aspects and processes involved in the public policy process. Students will explore the intersection of state, economy and civil society while focusing on the growing importance of private institutions and models of multi-stakeholder governance.

There’s also the LLM in European Law and Policies for those seeking to start a legal career in EU institutions or law firms based in the continent. Students will gain expertise both in EU institutional and substantive law and in the operation of the policy process in practice.

King’s College London

King’s College London is one of the UK’s top universities; it is currently ranked 35th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.

Its School of Politics and Economics offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses for students who want to launch a career in the field. Some of their undergraduate programmes include the BSc Economics, BA Economics and Management, BA European Politics, BA History and Political Economy, BA/BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), BA/BSc Political Economy and BA/BSc Politics.

King's College London, School of Politics & Economics

Source: King’s College London, School of Politics & Economics

The university’s BA/BSc Politics course, for instance, is a demanding programme that covers international politics, comparative politics and political theory, with an emphasis on developing students’ analytical and research skills. It includes many opportunities to explore the interplay between politics and economics.

Meanwhile, some of King’s postgraduate courses include the MA Double Master’s in Asian and International Affairs, MA International Political Economy, MSc Emerging Economies and International Development, MA Political Economy, MA Public Policy and MSc Russian and Eurasian Politics and Economics.

Students who are keen to develop an understanding of policy making and analysis will find their MA Public Policy programme ideal; they will get to focus on the critical issues and key developments relating to public policy, such as governance, globalisation and policy evaluation, and develop the analytical and critical skills relevant to understanding the challenges of public policy and its implementation. 

Paris Institute of Political Science (SciencesPo)

SciencesPo boasts of some famous alumni, including former French president François Hollande and the country’s current – and youngest president in French history – Emmanuel Macron.

SciencesPo’s website notes that its School of Public Affairs offers a large variety of master’s programmes and up to 11 different policy streams, from public administration and public management to culture, environment and defence. 

The school adopts both a European perspective and a global vision on public affairs, in addition to providing a wide choice of dual degrees with internationally-renowned institutions. 


Source: SciencesPo

Their programmes aim to give students access to many careers, be it in the public sector, private sector, as well as international and non-governmental organisations. Students also have the opportunity to successfully pass the top civil servants exams in France and Europe. Some of the master’s courses here include the Master in Public Policy where students can take modules in psychology, public policy, policy analysis and accounting, to name a few. 

Their Master in European Affair will expose students to modules such as political economy and accounting for public policy. Students also have the option to participate in an exchange programme in their last semester with one of their partner institutions around the world. 

University of Helsinki

This Finnish university is one of the top 1% research universities in the world; many of their programmes are linked to research efforts that are key to building a better, more sustainable world

Becoming a student at this university entails studying in the capital of Finland, a safe and sustainable seaside city that boasts of stunning nature and urban culture. The university offers several postgraduate programmes that are ideal for those interested in a career in politics and governance. 

Some of their programmes include the Master’s Programme in Global Politics and Communication, a programme that exposes students to a combination of political science, communication studies and the global political economy. Students will apply their ideas, concepts and methodologies to key societal and political issues and develop their critical reasoning and argumentation skills. The programme has three study tracks: Governance, Organisations and Communication; Media and Democracy; and Global Political Economy. 

Meanwhile, their Master’s Programme in Economics focuses on the key elements of economic analysis and methods. It is oriented towards the social sciences, and the two study tracks of the programme students for demanding expert occupations or equip them with the know-how to pursue a Doctoral Degree in Economics. 

There’s also the Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies programme, where students choose from six major subjects: Global Development Studies; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Social and Public Policy; Social Data Science; Social Psychology; or Sociology. Students will also study themes including Data and Society; Ethnic Relations and Migration; Mind and Society; Socio-Cultural Shifts; and Sources of Inequalities.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International