Political Science Degree

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Why Earn a Degree in Political Science?

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

Top Political Science Degrees

Students have a wide variety of degree pathways in poly-sci that include both graduate programs and undergraduate degrees.  We have compiled the most popular pathways to help you better understand your options along with quick access to the top ranked colleges in this area of study.

Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science

A bachelor’s degree in political science is designed as a 4-year program with concentrations available in political theory, international relations, methods and models, world politics, political economy, comparative politics, and American politics depending on the school and curricular design of the program.  A bachelor’s degree is the entry-point into a career in political science.  In fact, the Department of Labor indicates a scant 4% of political scientists surveyed have a bachelor’s degree and all others have a graduate degree in political science.

The bachelor’s degree is split between core curriculum and general education courses like philosophy, English, and psychology.  Each school will have mandated liberal arts curriculum and core political science courses to help students think differently about the world around them & effectively process disparate pieces of information.

Master’s Degree in Political Science

An online master’s degree in political science can be earned from a number of accredited colleges and universities around the country.  A master’s degree in political science is a 1-2 year program after meeting all lower level prerequisites of the bachelor’s degree program in political science.  Upper level courses in political science include rigorous classes such as quantitative methods in political research, political theory, international politics, comparative politics, and American politics followed by a thesis project.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 17% of political scientists have a master’s degree with many going on to earn a PhD in Political Science or entering the workforce.  Students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to analyze, respond, and influence to government policy while working with government agencies or via the private sector.

Doctorate’s Degree in Political Science

A PhD in political science is the most popular program for political scientists with over 75% earning a doctorate degree.  A PhD degree in political science will take students 2-4 years to complete after all lower level prerequisite courses are completed.   The span of time will vary by student depending on the number of credits taken at a given time, the course requirement, and length of time spent on the dissertation.  PhD graduates will be ready to launch a career working for a government agency, private sector, college or university, non-government agency, research facility, social advocacy organization, or an advertising agency.

Educational Requirements for Political Science Majors

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.

Employment Opportunities for Political Scientists

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 median salary for a political scientist is $114,290 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.

Top Jobs for Political Science Majors

Political science majors will enjoy a range of jobs after graduating from college with a graduate degree.  Skills a political scientist will obtain during their studies will include: writing, research, analytical, critical reasoning, and knowledge of political systems.  With these skills, a political science major can launch an exciting career in a number of directions.  The top jobs for a political science major include:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Political Campaign Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Teacher
  • Political Consultant
  • Attorney

Individuals interested in political science may also be interested in sociology, public policy, or public administration.  Professional trade associations such as the APSA and the IPSA provide resources, tools, and research in this vocational domain.  Students serious about a career in the political realm may consider joining such associations to network and help broaden their knowledge-base in the field.

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Related Areas of Study

Career Summary: Political science Major




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