Why Choose Political Science?
Examples of Careers for Political Scientists
- Administration, Corporate, Government, Non-Profit, etc.
- Corporation Legislative Issues Manager
- Archivist, Online Political Data
- Customs Officer
- Management Analyst
- Budget Examiner or Analyst
- Editor, Online Political Journal
- Plans and Review Officer, USIA
- Banking Analyst or Executive
- Federal Government Analyst
- Policy Analyst
- Campaign Operative
- Financial Consultant
- Political Commentator
- Career Counselor
- Foreign Service Officer
- CIA Analyst or Agent
- Foundation President
- Public Affairs Research Analyst
- City Planner
- Free-lance writer
- Public Opinion Analyst
- City Housing Administrator
- High School Government Teacher
- Congressional Office/Committee Staffer
- Immigration Officer
- Research Analyst
- Coordinator of Federal or State Aid
- Information Manager
- State Legislator
- Communications Director
- Intelligence Officer
- Survey Analyst
- Corporate Analyst
- International Agency Officer
- Systems Analyst
- Corporate Public Affairs Advisor
- International Research Specialist
- Corporate Economist
- Issues Analyst, Corporate Social Policy Div.
- University Administrator
- Corporate Manager
- University Professor
- Corporate Information Analyst
- Juvenile Justice Specialist
- Urban Policy Planner
- Corporate Adviser for Govt'l. Relations
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Web Content Editor
Skills that a political science major helps you to develop are applicable to many different jobs. The study of political science develops not only reasoning and analytical skills, but also communication, planning and development, research, and group skills. Furthermore, Bradley University political science majors acquire skills in data analysis and computer usage. Thus, the study of political science prepares a student to pursue many different careers. Some of the many professions open to political science majors include the above.
The following highlights some of the frequently chosen careers for which political science has been most useful. In addition, you can browse some of the career web links gathered by the American Political Science Association.
Law has been a very popular choice of political science majors. While political science is not required for admission to law school, almost all Bradley political science majors who apply to law school are admitted. For decades, Bradley political science majors have enrolled and graduated from a wide variety of law schools. Thus, law schools across the country are familiar with the capabilities of Bradley University graduates. The careers paths after law school have been extremely varied with some entering other professions, but most find positions within the legal profession. The latter include private practice, serving as legal counsel of private organizations or public agencies, and service on the bench. For example, currently four Bradley political science graduates are either circuit or supreme court justices in the state of Illinois.
After law, one of the most frequently selected careers has been governmental service – both appointed and elected – at the local, state, and national levels. While all majors receive the same education about government, they have taken many different routes to their positions in government. Some have used the extensive internship program as a springboard to launch their careers. Others have established contacts by being active in electoral campaigns. Still others have used their subsequent master’s degrees in public administration or public policy analysis to qualify for positions such as city manager. For any selection process, from the patronage system of Congress to civil service appointment in the executive branch, you can make yourself a more attractive prospective junior employee by acquiring or improving desirable skills. While management skills may serve you in the longer term, initial entry will be enhanced by a strong background in quantitative analysis techniques. Of course, this is in addition to strong analysis and communication skills.
Many are surprised to learn that a large number of political science majors, about one-third, are employed in business. Majors have found employment in a variety of fields, including marketing, personnel, advertising, public relations, banking and finance. Exact positions attained are varied, but include positions in management, research, and as governmental liaisons. Social science majors are attractive to business because their liberal arts education and skills in analysis and communication mean they can initially perform several functions, but also adapt to future changes. However, political science majors seeking a career in business can enhance their prospects by at a minimum having a sound background in statistical analysis and in basic business concepts. Beyond this, you should consider additional majors or minors in fields such as economics and business administration. Until Watergate, the most popular second major of political science majors was economics.
International and National Organizations
The 20th century has seen an explosion in the number of international organizations, both public and private. This has accompanied a similar increase, especially after 1960, in the number of domestic interest groups. Whether it is an environmental group lobbying the U.S. Congress or the United Nations Environmental Program, all of these organizations need individuals for management, research, and interaction with other public and private entities. While the major in political science is excellent preparation, students can further enhance their job prospects. If you are interested in working for an international organization, foreign language skills may be a fundamental requirement. You may also want to develop some substantive expertise in a particular area. If you are concerned with and want to work for one of the environmental groups, then courses in environmental science would be particularly useful.
Political science majors have long found employment in some aspect of communications, but this trend accelerated after Watergate. Newspapers, and to a lesser extent the electronic news, have always needed individuals capable of understanding and communicating the significance of political events. With the post-Watergate increased emphasis on adversarial journalism there were even more opportunities for those who understood politics, could research problems or events, and then write clear, coherent stories. Students considering such a career would be well advised to consider a joint major. Political science/journalism or political science/radio and TV would be particularly appropriate. Also, it would be a wise strategy to take advantage of the numerous local opportunities for hands-on experience. Local newspapers, radio stations, and television stations all provide opportunities for internships or paid positions.
Most of the job opportunities in political science itself require an advanced degree. Approximately 75 percent of political scientists are employed by educational institutions where a Ph.D. is a prerequisite for employment. Opportunities outside of academia – public affairs organizations, research organizations, consulting firms, Congressional staffs, etc. – are less likely to require a doctorate degree, but you may be at a competitive disadvantage without it or a specialized degree such as a Master’s in Public Policy Analysis. The employment outlook for political science Ph.D.s in higher education is not clear. Political science is not currently experiencing a glut of Ph.D.s, as are other disciplines (e.g., mathematics, history), so there are opportunities, but a predicted growth in demand has yet to materialize. The predicted growth in demand for political science Ph.D.s was based on two observations. First, after years of decline, the traditional college age population is again growing. Second, there was a large influx of people into the profession in the 1960s. This group is now of retirement age. The brand new 27 year-old Ph.Ds. of the1960s are now entering retirement.
The following sample of Internet sites is an updated version of that initially assembled by the American Political Science Association. The sites vary in their offerings from career information to job positions.