What Can You Do with a Political Science Degree, According to 4 Experts

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on email

What career opportunities can you pursue with a degree in political science?

We asked experts to provide some insights.

Peter Woods

Peter Woods

Principal Solicitor, Woods and Day Solicitors

Diplomat

Diplomats or foreign relations officer serves to create, preserve and repair relationships between different nations. They represent their nations and engage in negotiations and dialogues. They protect their nation’s interest in economic, political, social, or cultural views. All of these are under a political sciences’ arena.

Political consultant, Analyst, Scientist

The career is most obvious for political science majors. Flooded with duties on collecting and analyzing data, evaluating the effects of policies, and political subjects. They can work on both the government and non-government agencies, and they can represent a cause or even a community.

Lawyer or Arbitrator

Lawyers are powerful speakers and those who provide advice, legal researches, prepare files and interpret laws and rulings to clients. Arbitrators, on the other hand, settle disputes outside courts. These careers are very challenging; that’s why the pay is usually high, although you need to finish the rigorous education first.

Educator

Not the best-paying job in the market but requires lifelong dedication, perseverance, and passion. As a teacher, you can be on the teaching field or research on classical political thought, international relations, and democracy and citizenship, etc. Advice students on what could happen in their career choice after choosing this degree.

Government official

Those who can govern should know a lot of things about political laws. They are the people who will make a better choice for the masses and exercise correct rules and administer justice. Functions in a manner that promotes the values of efficiency, not corrupt, and responsiveness to civil society.

Related: How to Get a Government Job

Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus

Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)

Because I was interested in going to law school, I was earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science (which was the recommended pre-law curriculum at my small university).

But for two years I had a room-mate who was in law school; and because there was a glut of new lawyers in the job market back then, he only received one ‘decent’ job offer (from the firm where his dad was a partner) — even though he’d graduated third in his class of nearly 300 graduates (from a law school that ranks among the top 100 in the U.S.)!

Management

I’d been slowly working my way through college as a night manager at a family-type restaurant, and I enjoyed training and supervising employees. So I decided to skip the idea of law school.

However, I was too far along to easily change my major; so I changed the focus of my Poly Sci coursework to public management, and I took as many business-related classes (e.g., Accounting, Economics, Organizational Behavior, Computer Programming, etc.) as I could fit into my schedule.

Still, I doubted whether my Poly Sci degree would get me a good management position (even with my experience as a night manager in a restaurant) because I wanted to leave the food-service industry behind.

So I got into a business-related master’s program at a (relatively) inexpensive state university and completed my degree in 21 months. That quickly led to several job offers.

And although the job I accepted (in a fast-growing ‘Fortune 1000’ company) didn’t require a master’s degree, having that degree helped put me on the so-called ‘fast track.’ Within five years I’d received three promotions and had nearly tripled my initial starting salary!

Unfortunately, changes in technology coupled with a multi-year recession forced my company to downsize several times. After the second downsizing, I was offered an attractive ‘buyout;’ and I took the deal, went back to graduate school for a while (to update my business knowledge), and got a job as a Business Instructor at a small state college located nearby.

Without having that master’s degree, getting into academia would have been impossible; but all of the intensive reading and writing in my Poly Sci degree program was great preparation for succeeding in graduate coursework.

Peter Ventura

Peter Ventura

Attorney At Law

There are many careers that a working professional can pursue with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. As a former politics major at Assumption College, I chose to pursue a law degree from the New England School of Law.

Many professionals have pursued a law degree to become a lawyer

There are many different occupations that a law degree can qualify a person for. Someone with a law degree can also become a stockbroker, a barrister, or they can even become the commissioner of a major sports league in the United States.

For professionals who do not pursue a law degree, a political science degree does not necessarily mean that they can only be a political campaign staff member or a policy analyst at a think tank.

Marketing

For instance, there are a very small fraction of political science majors who go into marketing after they graduate. A marketing research analyst is an example of a popular occupation that political science graduates pursue. Companies look for employees who have these skills:

  • Effective and concise writing
  • Effective communication
  • Active listening

Political science is a major that can help a person develop each of these skills, but they have to hone and perfect each of these skills on their own. Overall, your major isn’t as important as your ability to improve and use skills to solve problems for a company.

Being able to sell your major as a reason for why you should be hired by a company is important. Every professional need to be able to identify the similarities in the skills they have acquired from a political science degree that will apply to a specific job at a company.

Léo Portal

Leo Portal

Co-Founder, Reach

A political science degree covers many topics. It teaches philosophy, public administration, policy analysis, research methods, as well as some economics if it comes from a good institution. Hence, this degree might take you to four different broad paths.

Public administration

First, a political science degree can lead you to a career in public administration in all the different levels it entails. That is, municipal, regional, national, and international (city- or state-level, national offices, and institutions such as the United Nations or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Research

Second, a political science degree can lead you to research or administrative positions for private organizations such as think tanks (the Council on Foreign Relations is a famous one) or non-governmental organizations(Green Peace is a widely known NGO).

Continuing as a Ph.D. student

Third, continuing as a Ph.D. student is another way to engage in a career path after your political science degree. This path might lead you to remain in academia as a Professor or to be a researcher in the private sector.

Public Affairs

Fourth, a political science degree might lead you to a career in public affairs as this kind or career requires a wide knowledge of the workings of institutions. Someone dealing with public affairs usually is tasked with building, maintaining, and improving relations with the various levels of government.

Finally, I want to underline that a degree in political science is not a prison. It can lead you to other places than the main ones I highlighted. There are some important things to do as part of your degree.

Build yourself a professional network and try to complete internships. You can do the latter after your degree if your program does not have any available semester for training. When you do that, it is possible to complete an internship in other fields than the one I highlighted, they might not be as obviously connected to politics or policy, but if you can get the internship, the connection exists.

For example, I have completed two internships in communication. They led me to create a communication consultancy that I keep developing while also completing my Ph.D.

Stephen Rector

Stephen Rector

Founder & President, Bakertown Consulting

Retail Business

As soon as I graduated from college, I got into the retail business and people are fascinated by the fact that I have a degree in political science. For me personally, I didn’t want to go to law school or go into politics. So my father said to me “Get a job.” I had worked retail all throughout my college years so when I was applying for jobs, retail corporations liked my experience. I worked for major corporations for most of my career until forming my own company.

My degree in political science has been a huge asset to me during my career. To be successful in retail, you need to have strong analytical skills to move ahead of the competition, which the classes I took in college provided me.

You also have to have strong communication skills which were based on giving presentations and writing papers during my college years. Overall, I am very happy to have studied political science and my degree has helped me become successful in business.

Related: The 25 Best Books on Communication Skills

Sarah Henry

Sarah Henry

Communications Associate, American Humanist Association

Administration

I find so much value in my political science degree. During the pursuit of my degree, I worked in Title IX administration and enforcement at my undergraduate institution. The lessons I learned in my coursework was valuable in this setting as it allowed me to understand the broader political context that the work I did contribute to. It also clarified how the national legislative and executive branches directly affected my day-to-day work.

Human Resources

After this position, I moved into minimum wage research for a human resources contractor. Another employment position in which the knowledge brought by my degree was put to hard work.

Political leaders for cities, counties, states, and the nation have and will continue to debate the minimum wage for the unforeseeable future, and the research changes just as fast as the leaders. This work was incredibly satisfying, bringing the pleasure of digging up answers to a given question.

Communications

Now, as the Communications Associate for a national advocacy nonprofit, I use my political science degree in whole new dimensions. Even though I work outside the directly political science world, every ebb and flow of Washington, D.C. affects how I work to spread the message about our efforts in courtrooms and on Capitol Hill. Understanding that movement is crucial to effective job performance.