Careers in Political Science
Political Science, like many other liberal arts programs, prepares students to:
- think critically and analytically
- express themselves well in writing and orally
- solve problems
- understand and participate in their communities
- learn on the job and throughout life.
A degree in Political Science also opens doors to specific occupations and jobs. Some higher-level jobs require additional degrees, for which a Political Science major is good preparation.
Government employment offers opportunities for initial entry and advancement to increasingly responsible positions. The federal government is the country’s largest employer; it employs nearly 3.1 million civilians and there are approximately 100,000 new hires each year. There are opportunities to work in executive agencies, Congress or the courts. There are also opportunities to work at the state and local levels.
LAW AND ADVOCACY
Many political science majors build on their knowledge of public policy and law to pursue careers in law and advocacy. While political science is not the only route to obtaining a graduate law degree, many students who go to law school major in political science. Courses that emphasize analytic reading and writing and which focus on law and public policy are good preparation for law school. Many community organizations and non-profits are also engaged in public advocacy—directed to policymakers and the more general public. Interest groups and associations are located in every state capital as well as Washington, D.C. For non-profit and interest group employment, strong backgrounds in the social sciences are valuable, writing skills are prized, and political science is a popular undergraduate major. In addition, policy advocacy relies on social science research, and many “think tanks” employ those with social science backgrounds.
BUSINESS AND BANKING
A large number of political science graduates --some studies suggest one-third-- have traditionally found employment in the business sector of the economy. The person who majors in political science offers potential employers in business and banking worlds a trained understanding of the institutions and the processes of governments and the many regulations and public-private collaborations relevant to the business world.
Political campaigns AND OFFICE-holding
Political parties, individual political campaigns, and political consulting firms hire people in campaign management, polling, and other areas of work. A solid understanding of how the American political system works is critical for these jobs. An internship is often a "foot in the door" for these career opportunities, because they provide both experience and contacts. Political science majors also run for elected political positions, or they service as staff to politicians.
JOURNALISM AND MEDIA
Finally, many political science graduates find careers in journalism and the media. There is a continuous demand for individuals who have the skills required to keep pace with fast changing political developments, who are able to “translate” these changes for the general public, and who have an appreciation of the significance of political developments in the US and overseas. Substantive knowledge and writing and analytic skills are highly prized in the field of print, broadcast, and social media journalism.
There are growing international employment opportunities for people trained in political science. International non-profits, international agencies and organizations, domestic business operating abroad and businesses based overseas all offer employment opportunities to qualified job candidates. A minor or major in international and comparative politics and command of additional languages is especially helpful for these careers.