How to Become a Diplomat?

How to Become a Diplomat?

How to Become a Diplomat?
Ashma Shrestha

Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations, forming alliances, and maintaining peaceful relations between nations. Diplomats are the professionals who represent their countries in international affairs and engage in diplomatic activities to promote their nation's interests.

Becoming a diplomat is a prestigious and challenging career path that offers the opportunity to represent your country globally, negotiate international agreements, and work on complex diplomatic issues. Diplomats are crucial in maintaining peaceful international relations and advancing their nation's interests. 

Diplomacy is essential for maintaining global stability and fostering cooperation among nations. Effective diplomacy can prevent conflicts, facilitate trade, address global challenges such as climate change and terrorism, and promote human rights and democracy. As a diplomat, you'll play a vital role in advancing your country's foreign policy objectives.

If you aspire to become a diplomat, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps, qualifications, and skills required to pursue this rewarding profession.

The Role of Diplomats

Diplomats have several crucial roles, including:

  • Negotiating and drafting international agreements and treaties.
  • Reporting on political, economic, and social developments in the host country.
  • Promoting trade and economic interests.
  • Facilitating cultural exchanges and fostering understanding.
  • Responding to crises and conflicts to prevent escalation.

Eligibility Requirements

To pursue a career as a diplomat through the UPSC examination, candidates must meet specific eligibility criteria and secure a competitive rank. Below are the qualifications and conditions that candidates need to fulfill to be eligible to appear for the UPSC exam:

  • Nationality: Candidates must be Indian citizens. Additionally, Tibetan refugees who permanently resettled in India before January 1, 1962, are eligible. Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan are also eligible to take the UPSC exam. Furthermore, individuals who have migrated and established permanent residency in India can apply for the UPSC exam to become diplomats.
  • Educational Qualifications: Candidates should have completed their 10+2 education from a recognized Indian board with a minimum aggregate score of 60%.
  • Graduation: Candidates must have completed a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university.

Meeting these eligibility criteria is the initial step in becoming a diplomat through the UPSC examination.

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Bachelor of Political Science in India

Master of Political Science in India

Educational Requirements

Undergraduate Degree

To become a diplomat, you typically need at least a bachelor's degree. While no specific major is required, degrees in international relations, political science, history, or foreign languages are often preferred. It's essential to maintain a solid academic record during your undergraduate studies.

Advanced Degrees

Many diplomats pursue advanced degrees, such as a master's in international relations, public policy, or law. These degrees can give you a deeper understanding of international issues and may enhance your career prospects. However, advanced degrees are only sometimes mandatory.

Foreign Language Proficiency

Proficiency in foreign languages is critical for diplomats, as it facilitates effective communication with foreign counterparts. Depending on the country and diplomatic position, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign languages. Consider enrolling in language courses or immersion programs to hone your language skills.

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Gaining Relevant Experience

Internships and Fellowships

Internships and fellowships with government agencies, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can provide valuable hands-on experience in diplomacy and international relations. Look for opportunities that offer exposure to diplomatic processes, policy analysis, and international negotiations.

Joining Foreign Service Organizations

Many countries have foreign service organizations that offer training programs and entry-level positions for aspiring diplomats. For example, the U.S. Department of State has a Foreign Service Officer program in the United States. Joining such organizations can be a direct pathway into a diplomatic career.


Building a professional network is crucial in the world of diplomacy. Attend conferences, seminars, and events related to international relations and diplomacy to connect with experts and practitioners in the field. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and provide valuable insights into the profession.

Skills Required

Communication Skills

Diplomats must be skilled communicators, both verbally and in writing. They must convey their country's positions, negotiate effectively, and engage in public diplomacy. Developing strong communication skills is essential for success in this field.

Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a fundamental part of diplomacy. Diplomats must be adept at finding common ground, building consensus, and resolving conflicts diplomatically. Courses or workshops in negotiation can help hone these skills.

Analytical Skills

Diplomats must analyze complex international issues, assess their impact on their country's interests, and formulate effective strategies. Strong analytical skills are essential for making informed decisions and providing valuable insights to policymakers.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is crucial when dealing with foreign counterparts. Understanding and respecting different cultures, customs, and traditions is essential for building trust and effective diplomatic relationships.

Preparing for Diplomatic Examinations

The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)

Aspiring diplomats in some countries, such as the United States, must pass the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT). This written examination assesses your knowledge of world affairs, situational judgment, and English expression. Study guides and practice exams are available to help you prepare.

Written and Oral Examinations

Beyond the FSOT, you may be required to complete additional written and oral examinations that assess your knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills. These assessments are designed to evaluate your suitability for diplomatic service.

Interview Process

The interview process typically includes both a panel interview and a security clearance interview. Be prepared to discuss your qualifications, experiences, and understanding of international issues. Demonstrating your commitment to your country's foreign policy goals is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the role of diplomats in international relations?

Diplomats serve as representatives of their respective countries in international affairs. Their primary role is to promote and protect their nation's interests by engaging in negotiations, fostering international cooperation, and maintaining peaceful relations with other countries. They are responsible for representing their government's policies, addressing global challenges, and contributing to diplomacy's role in preventing conflicts and advancing common goals.

2. How competitive is the UPSC exam for aspiring diplomats in India?

The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam is highly competitive and serves as the gateway for aspiring diplomats in India. Every year, thousands of candidates compete for limited positions in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). Success in the exam requires rigorous preparation, including a deep understanding of current affairs, international relations, and various subjects. Securing a good rank is crucial for candidates aspiring to join the IFS.

3. Are foreign language skills essential for diplomats?

Yes, foreign language proficiency is often a crucial requirement for diplomats. Diplomats must communicate effectively with their foreign counterparts, and conversing in the host country's local language can be a significant advantage. It facilitates negotiations, cultural exchanges, and a better understanding of the local context. Depending on the diplomatic posting, diplomats may need to demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign languages as part of their job requirements.


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