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A degree in political science prepares an individual with the skills and knowledge necessary to examine, analyze and evaluate political systems, both real and theoretical, and how they will operate in a given environment. Students of political science will study various forms of government in depth, how such governments work, where their weaknesses lie, and how theory and practice deviate. Political science is a social science, and incorporates philosophy, economics, history and sociology into its models for political behavior and policy making. Degrees are available from the associate level on, though a career as political scientists will typically require at least a master's degree.
A curriculum in political science may include:
- Comparative Politics
- Political Analysis
- International Relations
- American Politics
- Politics and Media
A career as a political scientist generally requires a minimum of a master's degree. A majority of jobs in political science are provided by the federal and state governments through various agencies. These positions are typically responsible for policy making and research. Positions with think tanks and other institutions are also available, also for the purposes of research and policy. Many individuals pursuing master or doctoral degrees will do so in a related field, such as public policy or public administration.
Careers opportunities in political science are expected to have limited growth due to the high barrier of entry, and limitations in employment due to the major employer of such scientists being the government. Some growth is anticipated as interest in public policy and politics increases, resulting in the need for more educated and knowledgeable individuals in the field. The average salary for a political scientist is near $120,000 per year, with teaching positions having an average of $47,000 per year.
Individuals with an associate or bachelor's degree may pursue varying careers outside of politics and public policy due to the cross-disciplinary nature of the major. Many will pursue graduate degrees in a separate field, while others will seek employment with firms that value the skills learned through such a degree, such as critical thinking, analysis, writing, and others.