When you get accepted to a college, you typically have to declare your major before starting school. Though some schools will allow you to start taking your general education courses for the first two years, you will have to declare a major at some point. With so many majors to choose from, this can be rather overwhelming. If you’re interested in politics, law, journalism, teaching, or business, then a political science degree can be a good way to go. But, first, learn more about it!
What Is A Political Science Degree?
A political science degree is a degree that by and large covers government and its functions. A student who has earned their political science degree will have learned the ins and outs of government, how to develop policy, do research, and analyze and understand data.
Of course, like many degrees students can earn in college, a political science degree can be quite broad and allow you to get into other related fields within the political science realm.
What Are The Different Types Of Political Science Degrees?
A political science degree is one that many universities offer, and there are many different types and levels of degrees you can earn and pursue within this field. You can continue to further your education if you so choose.
Undergraduate Degrees In Political Science
The two undergraduate degrees you can get in political science are an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.
An associate’s degree is a two-year program in which you’ll learn the basics of political science and dabble into other relevant topics. It’s a good introduction to the field to determine whether or not it interests you, all while earning a valuable degree. An associate’s in political science is a good stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in the same field.
A bachelor’s degree in political science is a four-year degree that teaches students the fundamentals of political science. You can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science or a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. These are slightly different in the core classes that make up the curriculum, but both will prepare you for an entry-level job and promising career in political science. Typically, to get a stable job in poly sci, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s.
Graduate Degrees In Political Science
If you want to continue your studies in political science, you can go on to earn a graduate degree. This can be a Master’s of Political Science and/or a doctoral degree in political science.
Like a bachelor’s degree, a student can pursue either a Master of Arts in Political Science or Master of Science in Political Science, which is a two-year program. Because many careers in this field require or prefer a master’s with the title “political scientist,” this distinction will allow you to pivot into other related careers as well (though, some are able to do this with just a bachelor’s, too).
The highest political science degree you can get is a doctorate. This is a Ph.D. in Political Science or a Doctorate in Political Science. Within these programs, you can typically specialize in topics ranging from government and politics, to business, teaching, and journalism.
In general, if you want to be a political science professor, then you will have to have your doctorate. And, in order to get your doctorate, most programs require their applicants to possess a master’s degree, first, though there are sometimes exceptions. With a master’s, your doctorate should also take two years.
Concentrations Available For Political Science Majors
There are many ways to use your political science degree, depending on what your interests are, the job market, if you’re willing to relocate for your job, etc. If there’s an aspect of political science that you find intriguing, it may be worth taking up a concentration, several of which are available to political science majors.
According to Best Colleges, these concentrations include, but are not limited to:
- American Politics
- Global Politics
- Public Policy
- Political Theory
- Environmental Politics
Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay
Why Pursue A Political Science Degree?
If you’re on the fence and wondering whether or not you should pursue a political science degree, what the pros and cons are, etc., it’s important to realize that no one can tell you which degree is right for you. But there are many benefits to getting a political science degree, such as:
- An opportunity to build valuable skills in areas like research and communication.
- Access to diverse job opportunities, ranging from careers in teaching, government and public policy, private businesses, management, analyst, and consulting, just to name a few. You can also pursue jobs in nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations.
- An opportunity to network and interact with like-minded people in the political and government spectrum.
- An opportunity to enter a field that has a starting salary of around $66,000 for entry-level positions, and is a growing field that constantly needs educated candidates.
3 Skills Earned In A Political Science Major
So, a political science degree sounds interesting, but what can you expect to learn in a political science degree program? The skills and focus of each class will of course vary from one program to the next, but in general, all political science majors can expect to learn more or less the same skills:
1. Personal Ethics
Ethics is a major component of a career in political science. One of the skills you’ll learn is how political theory and ethics go hand-in-hand, reading documents on ethics in politics and analyzing those documents in detail. You’ll learn the importance of ethics in your own career and likewise the consequences of a lack of ethics in politics.
2. Communication And Writing Skills
A person in the political science realm needs to have solid communication skills, which you will learn and improve on whilst in a political science degree program. These range from verbal to written communication skills, which you’ll develop individually but also in the context of collaborating with others. You’ll also have to write a lot of papers in political science school, so be prepared for that.
3. Research And Analytical Skills
A political scientist — especially one that wants to move up in their career with further studies — will have to perfect their researching skills. In your political science program, you’ll learn how to conduct research from various types of sources.
Researching skills, while a major focus of a political science degree, are nothing without analytical skills. In your coursework, you’ll learn how to analyze your findings through a political lens, often with a focus on current events. You’ll also have to take your analysis a step further, using your communication skills to persuade others through papers and debates.
Image by Grégory ROOSE from Pixabay
What Can You Do With A Political Science Degree?
A major concern of prospective college students (especially when the cost of university has increased dramatically) is whether or not they will have career options when they graduate. And, not just any career options, but careers that are promising in terms of job security, financial security, and, of course, in how rewarding and challenging they are.
Luckily, a degree in political science can open you up to a whole world of enticing careers in:
- Urban Planning
- Public Policy
- Politics/Public Office
- Government Analyst
- Law Careers
- Lobbyist Professions
- Business Fields
- Journalist Occupations
- Teaching Positions
- Labor Relations
- Higher Education
Political Science Degree Jobs
- Conflict Resolution Specialist
- Public Relations Specialist
- Political Scientist
- Community Service Manager
- Business Consultant
- Lawyer, Legal Assistant, or Paralegal
- Operations Manager
- Program Coordinator
How Much Do Political Science Majors Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), political science majors with a master’s degree made $122,220 per year as the median salary in 2019. Depending on your industry, job, level of experience, and your unique skill-set, your pay will vary.
How Do I Choose a School for a Political Science Degree?
With so many schools offering political science programs, it can be hard to choose which program is right for you. To help narrow down your decision, take a look at three factors:
- Career Focus: Where/in what area of political science do most students who graduate with this degree in this specific program end up?
- Purpose Of Degree: What do you hope to accomplish with this degree, and are you able to pursue it in a manner that works for you?
- Flexibility: What are the demands of the program, and will it give you enough time to do other things? This is where an online political science program may come in handy.
What Kind Of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?
There are many schools in the United States and around the world that offer a degree in political science, but you should always make sure the school is accredited by some accreditation authority for institutions of higher education, which usually comes from a regional or national accreditation agency.
While accreditation is important when considering a program and a school, the downside of getting your political science degree in this way could be cost-prohibitive. In the United States, tuition is very expensive and the demands of a program like this can be difficult.
Luckily, there are alternatives. University of the People offers degrees in Business Administration which can help you get into a career in political science. Our university is entirely tuition-free and online. And, if you’re concerned about accreditation, we have that, too. UoPeople is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).