When you think of political science, what comes to mind? A politician in a suit with a tie? Political science is the reason that we have a functioning democratic society, in which each person has the right to exercise his or her voice equally. If you love history, politics, elections, and the art of debate, an online political science degree is a great choice for you. Political science is the study of formal systems of government, law, and public policy. In this program you’ll be exposed to a global perspective that will help you understand how a government and its citizens develop the rules and laws that have shaped civilizations. While political science is considered the classic pre-law major, you can enter many other fields with this degree. You may be interested in a career as a politician, social activist, lobbyist, or labor relations consultant. Or perhaps you’d like to teach government or report on public policy and the law for a news site. Many political and government careers require the ability to think critically, write persuasively, and understand current events—all qualities you’ll gain by earning an online political science degree.
THE CAREER PATH
Political science is the reason we can make laws that fund public schools and provide our neighbors with health care. It’s how we decide to manage our shared wealth and shared interests as a community. Political science deals with all systems of governance and the analysis of thoughts, activities, and behavior related to policy and politics. If you’re interested in government work, this may be the ideal degree for you. It will hone your knowledge of public policy, enabling you to work in social services, or civic affairs. But public work isn’t your only option. If you’re a politically progressive citizen, you may find this degree helpful in organizing grassroots and local activism campaigns. You could also work as a survey researcher for a political organization.
Contrary to what some believe, political science can pay very well—especially if you have an advanced degree. If you earn a doctorate in political science, you could earn a median of $115,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many political scientists work for the federal government, but you could also find work at a nonprofit or think tank. However, it is a highly competitive field that expects slow job growth in the coming years. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Political Scientists are professionals that research one of four main areas:
- National Politics
- International Relations
- Comparative Politics
- Political Theory
Political science professionals may be interested in other careers as well, for example:
- Paralegals & Legal Assistants – These professionals are responsible for performing a variety of tasks that support the work of lawyers. Paralegal positions are typically open to professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree and a certification in Paralegal Studies that’s been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Paralegals make around $50,000 annually on average but are expected to see significant job growth of 15% in the next decade.
- Urban & Regional Planners – These professionals help communities manage the economic, social, and environmental issues that come along with growth and change. They work with public officials, community members, issue-groups, and more to identify community issues and goals. Urban and regional planning positions call for a master’s degree from an accredited planning program. Undergraduate studies in political science are the perfect introduction to advanced education in urban planning. Urban planners make more than $70,000 each year on average and are expected to be in high demand. Job growth for planners is projected to increase at a rate of 13% by 2026.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Careers in political science are for professionals that want to blend their understanding of human societies with observations of policy and governance. The most successful political science professionals have a mind geared for research and writing, one that is detail-oriented and thorough. Political science can often deal with ambiguous, complex matters. Successful professionals can work with a variety of colleagues and community members to pull together the strongest skills and knowledge of each contributor. Political science requires strong communication and interpersonal skills. If you’re ready to get to work gaining a better understanding of how we can pass policies that better support the people our governments are meant to serve, then it may be possible for you to begin your career in political science as soon as possible.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Professionals may be found working for organizations that have a stake in policy, such as unions and nonprofits. To qualify for positions as a political scientist, most professionals will need at least a master’s or doctoral degree.
As a liberal arts major, a political science degree will include classes in the humanities and social sciences. You’ll also take writing and research classes. Other classes will include American government, environmental policy, comparative politics, the American Constitution, philosophy, and international relations. You may also consider taking classes in law or economics, depending on your future aspirations. Many who choose this field as a pre-law major take business law and economics. You may also be interested in conflict resolution and international studies. International business courses can also be helpful in understanding world politics. Related political science programs include law, public administration degree, criminal justice, and the online history degree.
High-quality online political science programs will prepare students for professional competition with hands-on experience through internship and real-world experience preparation. The average cost of an online degree in political science costs between $30,000 and $50,000, so it’s important that each student research the value of each program before comitting.