Lucky for you, in 2013 the State department published a FSOT reading list. This Foreign service exam reading list is critical in helping to give potential Foreign Service Officers a path in which to follow and guidance into which material to invest their time.
Below is the official FSOT Reading list with links that will direct you to where you can either purchase the book or in some cases, access them for free. But regardless, I highly recommend that you take our free FSOT practice test and look at which areas you struggled with the most. From that information, you can make a better-concentrated decision on where to start and where to focus more of your attention.
Now, before you jump into that giant reading list... Let me give you the top 12 books that I believe you should focus on first.
Foreign Service Reading List: United States
Racial and Ethnic Relations (528 pages)
International Relations (608 pages)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (672 pages)
American Diplomats: The Foreign Service (320 pages)
A People and a Nation: A History of the US (729 pages)
American Foreign Relations: A History (608 pages)
The Politics of United States Foreign Policy (544 pages)
Women and the American Experience (640 pages)
FSOT Reading List: World History
The Heritage of World Civilization (976 pages)
Civilization: the West and the Rest (433 pages)
Foreign Service Exam Reading List: Area Studies
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA (736 pages)
The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (224 pages)
Understanding Contemporary Africa (511 pages)
Postwar: A history of Europe since 1945 (960 pages)
The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus (328 pages)
Russia Since 1980: Wrestling with Westernization (374 pages)
Central Asia: The Challenges of Independence (304 pages)
Wealth and Power: China’s long march (496 pages)
China Goes Global: The Partial Power (432 pages)
FSOT Reading List: Consular and Immigration
Immigrants and the Right to Stay (128 pages)
Citizenship and Immigration (200 pages)
Immigration Stories (388 pages)
FSOT Reading List: Economic and Public Policy
Macroeconomics: economic growth (576 pages)
Principles of Microeconomics (520 pages)
The Shaping of Grand Strategy (294 pages)
Public Policy in the United States: At the Dawn (496 pages)
Economic Policy Beyond the Headlines (249 pages)
FSOT Reading List: Management
Psychology and Life (624 pages)
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (296 pages)
Psychology 8th ed (715 pages)
Organizational Behavior: Managing People (624 pages)
Managing Across Cultures (352 pages)
Employment Discrimination Law (384 pages)
FSOT Reading List: Public Affairs and the Media
The Dynamics of Mass Communication (496 pages)
The investigative reporter’s handbook (608 pages)
News Writing and Reporting for Today’s Media (560 pages)
Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (592 pages)
Public Speaking (480 pages)
Intercultural Communication (528 pages)
Understanding Intercultural Communication (352 pages)
New Perspectives on Computer Concepts (880 pages)
Cost: ~$2200 USD
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If you were to read every page and purchase every book, you would be looking at 28,000 pages and over $2200 in books. That's ridiculous.
But remember that you don't have to read everything. This is only a guideline.
Instead, it is important that you use the FSOT reading list and a suggestion tool and choose which books fit your needs. If you struggled in Economics or have little background in that area, then I would recommend choosing a couple of our top recommended books in that area to read and prepare for. If you are super prepared for World History, then only improve on the sections you aren't familiar with but spend more time in other areas.
Also, don't forget to signup for my newsletter and I'll send you my personal list of the Top 10 Books that every potential FSO should read to help prepare for the FSOT. There are a couple of books on this list, but some are not and NEED to be. Like I said when I started this article...the state department created this FSOT reading list in 2013...it's already a little outdated.