Are you considering political science as your major? Are you concerned about whether political science is a good major? Do you wonder if it’s worth it in the long run? If you are, we’re going to help you find the answers you seek.
We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of getting a political science degree. That way you’ll be able to decide if political science is a good major. Since you’re asking this particular question, it means that you’re interested in the theory and practice of government systems on a national and international level. It means you look forward to taking upon a scientific study of politics and analyzing political activities, political thought, political behavior, and related constitutions and laws. That’s the first and most important pro on the list, you love politics!
Political science is a good major as it leads to versatile career paths in, and outside of government and politics, allowing you to develop different skills in political research, data analysis, personal relations, communication, and writing.
Bear in mind, that a bachelor’s degree in political science is only the first stepping stone for a political scientist. According to Career explorer, 77% of political scientists have a doctorate, with the second most common being a master’s degree at 13%. Only 10% settle for a bachelor’s degree. Nevertheless, being a flexible major, political science offers many post-graduate options. You can continue to law school, as it fits the political science path, or look for well-ranked masters or Ph.D. programs in diplomacy or public policy. Even if you decide to settle for a bachelor’s degree there’ll be many career prospects in public and private organizations. There’ll be a wide variety of entry-level, white-collar positions that deal with administration, communication, data analysis, research, fundraising, campaigns, and much more.
We’ve scratched the surface on the topic is political science a good major. Now let’s get into the details!
Is Political Science Hard?
Yes, and no! Knowing the fact that political science is the scientific study of politics at all levels we can say that it’s moderately hard. It’s not as hard as STEM majors, but it’s quite challenging because it covers a wide range of topics and requires in-depth analysis. These topics are not nearly like regular conversation and are rather complex for a student starting to study political science.
Once you choose political science for your major you should be prepared for:
- Government, historical, and modern conflicts issues
- A more theoretical and less technical approach to science
- Political research and analysis supported with relevant evidence
- Books with complex jargon
- A clear and definite understanding of political terms
- Lengthy discussions on intricate topics
- Extensive authentic, logical, and well-reasoned writing backed up with substantial proof
- The writing style required in political science
- A thorough analysis of various perspectives and ideologies
Political science is rather demanding than hard. It takes hours and hours of research to be on top of your work and be knowledgeable to discuss and argue a given topic and eventually make a point.
Besides being eloquent and well-read, as a political science student, you need to be an excellent communicator. Also, there is a continuous need for improvement to cope with the demanding topics which at times can be stressful. But if you’re good at debates and lengthy discussions, if you understand the complex political issues, conflicts, and ideologies, and you enjoy researching, political science would feel like a walk in the park.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Political Science?
If you check out the U.S. News overview on political science majors you’ll see that there are many job opportunities with a degree in political science. The mastered skills in political science can be used in different fields like jobs in journalism, business, education,and more. There’s also a chance to work in law and politics.
With a degree in political science, you can work as an analyst or search for a position in nonprofits, government organizations, and the private sector. Due to your acquired skills in data analysis, analytical reading, research, and writing, as a political science major, you’ll be a great candidate for jobs in almost any field, including business, consulting, government work, foreign office, and teaching.
A degree in political science is a good qualification for applying for graduate education in law, business, social work, social sciences, history, education, public policy, diplomacy, foreign affairs, and, of course,political science itself. If you’re a political science student, and you want to explore other career opportunities with a degree in political science contact the Center for Career Education at Columbia University. You’ll find it quite useful for jobs and internships research as well as networking and alumni interactions.
Don’t forget, to earn the title of a political scientist, you’ll have to obtain at least a master’s or doctoral degree. The job opportunities are quite different with a bachelor’s and master’s degree, from entry-level administrative positions to analyzing and proposing policy. Therefore, make sure what career line you’d like to pursue, so you can decide whether to remain at a bachelor level degree or continue your education for more lucrative career options. If you’re interested in an academic career in political science (teaching political science at the university level) you’ll need a doctorate which is not a mandatory requirement for many political science jobs.
Here are some job prospects for political science majors in different fields for you to consider:
- In the state or local government sector: Legislative assistant, policy analyst, press aide, staff assistant
- In the federal government sector: Agency administrator, legislative assistant, legislative director, press aide, policy analyst
- In the nonprofit sector: Advocate, development officer, policy researcher, communications coordinator
- In the private business sector: Consultant, lobbyist
- In foreign affairs: Diplomat, international NGO advisor
- In media: Reporter, journalist, news anchor, radio host, writer, editor, social media manager
- In marketing: Market researcher, creative director, advertising executive,
- In education: High school teacher (social studies, U.S. government), librarian
- In corporate: PR (public relations manager), human resources specialist, data analyst
It’s essential to know that a successful career in politics needs a lot of networking. So, build your network with fellow students, scholars, and professors. Do it throughout your entire education and use those contacts and connections for a prosperous internship after graduation. A quality internship program is essential, especially in political centers like Washington, D.C., and New York. Political interns working at places like MSNBC, the U.S. Congress, or AI (Amnesty International) can easily get full-time jobs in politics, media, or nonprofit organizations.
Is a Degree in Political Science Paid Well?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a degree in political science is paid well. The BLS data state that the average annual salary of a political scientist with a master’s degree in political science in May 2021 was $122,510, equivalent to an hourly salary of $58.90.
Also, for the occupation of a political scientist, there’s a projected employment growth of 6% from 2021 to 2031. From 2021 to 2031 around 600 job openings (on average) for political scientists are expected on a yearly basis. Some openings are anticipated as a result of workers’ transfer, and some as a result of workers’ retirement.
According to U.S. News rankings, number 13 in the best social services jobs is reserved for political scientists. U.S. News ranks the jobs by analyzing salary data, unemployment rate, and stress to choose the best jobs of the year. So number 13 is not bad at all!
If you analyze the scorecard (with points from 0 to 10) for the job of a political scientist, you’ll see that salary has a score of 8.9, which is the highest score on the scorecard. This means that salary is one of the best attributes of being a political scientist, followed by 6 points for stress and work-life balance and 4 points for future growth. Numbers that once more prove that a degree in political science is paid well!
Hopefully, this article will give you answers to the basic questions regarding political science. Questions that every student should think about before choosing political science as their major, and before trying to build a career with a degree in political science.
Read it carefully, and start from the beginning. Even though most political scientists have master’s and Ph.D., the bachelor’s degree is where everything starts. Once you complete your educational program in political science you can qualify to graduate schools and choose a master’s degree in public policy, public affairs, or public administration, or a Ph.D. in international relations, diplomacy, or political theory.
Start acquiring relevant experiences in and outside the classroom. Don’t forget about the importance of networking, volunteer work, and internship within nonprofit organizations, as campaign or research assistants, or in congressional and legislative offices. Build your work portfolio and improve your employment chances by becoming a candidate with proven work history.
And last but not least, work on your communicational, technical, analytical, diplomacy, oratory, and problem-solving skills if you want to make it in the world of politics.