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Political Science Degrees: A Pathway to Impactful Change

Discover the world of political science degree programs. Delve into the complexities of political arguments while sharpening your writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills.

Political Science Degree

Imagine stepping into a scene where power, influence, and decision-making intertwine, shaping the future of nations and their people.

That is the world of political science, which holds the key to understanding the complex dynamics governing societies.

Pursuing a political science degree is akin to becoming a master chess player, adeptly navigating the intricate moves of policy, diplomacy, and advocacy.

If you want to learn more about it, you’re in the right place.


What is a Political Science Degree?

A political science degree invites you into a rich, multifaceted academic world, exploring the diverse elements of political systems, institutions, behaviors, and ideologies.

This degree gives you the tools and know-how to dissect and comprehend the complex interplay between government and public policies at local, national, and international levels. In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and constantly evolving political landscapes, the significance of political science has never been more pronounced.

Pursuing a degree in this field offers a multitude of benefits. For one, it cultivates critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills – all valuable assets in today’s job market.

Political science courses can also shed light on the factors that influence voters’ preferences for specific candidates, empowering you to make educated forecasts regarding the results of democratic elections.

Recent trends in political science reveal an increased focus on data analytics and research. As information becomes increasingly abundant, there is a growing demand for professionals who can harness data to make informed decisions in the political realm.

What are the Political Science Degree Levels?

As you embark on your academic journey in political science, it’s essential to understand the various degree levels available to you. Each level offers unique opportunities and caters to distinct career goals.

Let’s explore the different political science degree levels, their benefits, and entry requirements.

Certificate in Political Science

A certificate in political science is a short-term, focused program that provides foundational knowledge in specific aspects of the field.


  • Quick completion, typically taking a few months to a year
  • Enhances your resume by demonstrating specialized knowledge
  • May be used to supplement other degrees for career advancement

Entry Requirements:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Basic understanding of politics or a related field is recommended

Associate Degree in Political Science

An associate degree is a two-year program that offers a more comprehensive understanding of political concepts and practices.


  • Builds a strong foundation for further studies in political science
  • Suitable for entry-level positions in government, non-profits, or research
  • Can be transferred to a four-year bachelor’s degree program

Entry Requirements:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • SAT or ACT scores (if required by the institution)

Bachelor's Degree in Political Science

A four-year bachelor’s program delves deeper into the field, equipping students with critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills.


  • It opens doors to a wide array of career opportunities in diverse sectors
  • Develops essential skills valuable in the job market
  • Lays a strong foundation for graduate studies

Entry Requirements:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Letters of recommendation and personal essay (if required by the institution)

Master's Degree in Political Science

A master’s degree is a two-year graduate program offering specialized knowledge in international relations, public policy, or political theory.


  • Enhances career prospects and earning potential
  • Prepares you for leadership roles in your chosen field
  • Provides a solid basis for pursuing a doctoral degree

Entry Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in political science or in a related field
  • GRE scores (if required by the institution)
  • Letters of recommendation and personal statement

Doctorate in Political Science

A doctorate in political science is the highest level of academic achievement in the field, typically requiring 4-6 years of study and research. It prepares students for careers in academia, research, or high-level policy analysis.


  • Positions you as an expert in your specialization
  • Increases career opportunities and earning potential
  • Allows you to contribute original research to the field

Entry Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in political science or a closely related field
  • GRE scores (if required by the institution)
  • Letters of recommendation, research proposals, and personal statement

Disclaimer: The entry requirements for a degree in Political Science may vary depending on your university and state. However, here we have outlined the general qualifications that are frequently asked for.

What Specialties and Concentrations Can You Find in Political Science Degree Programs?

Unraveling the tapestry of political science reveals a myriad of intriguing specialties and concentrations to explore. Diving into these captivating subfields allows you to tailor your educational experience and hone your expertise.

Let’s delve into some of the most popular specialties and concentrations in political science degree programs, along with the benefits of pursuing them.

American Government

This concentration delves into the intricacies of the U.S. political system, including the Constitution, federalism, elections, and policymaking. You’ll gain insight into how various branches of government interact and the impact of their decisions on society.


  • Prepares you for careers in government agencies, political campaigns, and lobbying
  • Develops a deep understanding of the U.S. political landscape
  • Provides a strong foundation for law school or graduate studies

Public Policy

Public Policy focuses on the process of designing, implementing, and evaluating policies to address societal issues. You’ll analyze policy options, assess their implications, and make informed recommendations for effective solutions.


  • Equips you for roles in government, think tanks, or non-profit organizations
  • Enhances problem-solving and analytical skills crucial for policy analysis
  • It enables you to make a tangible difference in your community or nation

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs explores the dynamics of international relations, diplomacy, and global security. Examine the role of state and non-state actors, international organizations, and the factors shaping foreign policy decisions.


  • It opens doors to careers in diplomacy, international organizations, or global consulting
  • Develops a keen understanding of global politics and international cooperation
  • It prepares you to navigate the complexities of an interconnected world

Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy delves into the historical and theoretical foundations of political thought. Engage with the ideas of renowned philosophers, exploring concepts such as justice, liberty, and democracy to understand contemporary political ideologies better.


  • Enhances critical thinking and communication skills
  • Provides a strong foundation for careers in academia, journalism, or law
  • Allows for a deeper understanding of the principles guiding political systems

Global Politics

Global Politics examines the political, economic, and cultural forces that shape the world. You’ll analyze pressing global issues such as climate change, human rights, and international trade to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing humanity.


  • Prepares you for careers in international organizations, NGOs, or government agencies
  • Develops a broad perspective on the world and its complex issues
  • Encourages global citizenship and the pursuit of positive change

Courses & Curriculum in Political Science Degrees

Ever wonder what it’s like to step into the shoes of a political science major? Imagine immersing yourself in a vibrant academic landscape, where every course unlocks new perspectives and sparks stimulating conversations.

Let’s lift the curtain and take a peek at the courses and curriculum that form the backbone of political science degrees.

Comparative Politics

Picture yourself exploring the inner workings of political systems from around the globe. Comparative Politics invites you to analyze and contrast different government structures, political cultures, and policy outcomes, offering you the tools to evaluate what works and what doesn’t in diverse contexts.

U.S. Government and Politics

Embark on an exciting exploration into the core of the American political sphere through this course. You’ll delve into the intricate balance of power among the branches of government, scrutinize the electoral process, and examine the critical issues shaping the nation’s political agenda.

Public Policy

Ready to tackle society’s most pressing challenges? Public Policy equips you with the skills to analyze, design, and evaluate policies that address issues ranging from healthcare to environmental protection. This course steers you through the intricate maze of policy creation and execution, inspiring you to make a real impact on the lives of others.

International Relations

Enter the arena of global politics with International Relations, where you’ll examine the intricate web of relationships that shape our world. From diplomacy and conflict resolution to international trade and human rights, this course uncovers the driving forces behind global events and the strategies nations employ to navigate an interconnected world.

Political Theory

Let the wisdom of great thinkers guide you through the fascinating world of political philosophy. Political Theory takes you on a captivating journey through the intellectual masterpieces that have defined political thought over time, from the works of Plato and Aristotle to the insights of Locke and Rousseau.

While taking this course, you’ll ponder age-old questions surrounding justice, liberty, and democracy, broadening your grasp of modern political ideologies.

On-campus vs. Online Political Science Degrees

Decisions, decisions! As you embark on your political science degree journey, a pivotal question looms large: Should you opt for an on-campus or online program?

Worry not! We’re here to illuminate the essential distinctions between these two educational routes, empowering you to make a well-informed decision that resonates with your aspirations and requirements.

On-campus Political Science Degrees

These programs offer a traditional educational experience, where you attend classes in person at a college or university campus. On-campus degrees provide the advantage of in-person engagement with instructors and classmates, as well as the benefit of campus facilities.


  • Rich social experience and networking opportunities
  • Direct access to faculty and resources
  • Structured learning environment


  • Limited flexibility in scheduling
  • Potentially higher costs (e.g., housing, transportation)
  • Geographic constraints

Online Political Science Degrees

These programs are conducted via virtual platforms, enabling you to access learning materials, complete assignments, and engage in discussions from their cozy abodes. Online degrees afford greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and location.


  • Flexible scheduling and location
  • Potential cost savings
  • Access to a broader range of programs and institutions


  • Limited face-to-face interaction
  • Self-discipline required for successful time management
  • Possible lack of access to campus resources

Factors to Consider when picking an Online vs On-Campus Program

  • Learning Style: Reflect on how you learn best. If you flourish in an organized setting with face-to-face interactions, an on-campus program could be your perfect match. On the flip side, if you’re a driven learner who values adaptability, an online program might be more in tune with your preferences.
  • Career Goals: Consider your desired career path and whether an on-campus or online program would provide the necessary skills and networking opportunities to achieve your objectives.
  • Lifestyle and Commitments: Evaluate your current lifestyle, including work, family, and personal commitments. Online programs can offer greater flexibility for those with demanding schedules or geographical constraints.
  • Financial Factors: Assess the expenses associated with on-campus and online programs, considering elements like tuition, accommodation, transportation, and the availability of scholarships or financial aid.
  • Accreditation: Confirm that the program you select, be it on-campus or online, is accredited by a trustworthy accrediting organization, as this can influence your eligibility for financial assistance and future job opportunities.

What to consider when choosing a Political Science Degree?

As you contemplate your options between on-campus and online political science degrees, the next essential step is to delve deeper into the factors that can help you pinpoint the ideal program.

Picking the perfect political science degree can feel overwhelming, but with these helpful tips in mind, you’ll be ready to make a well-informed decision that leads to a rewarding and influential career.

Actionable Tips for Selecting the Right Political Science Degree Program

1. Accreditation

We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating! Making sure your degree has the proper accreditation is key to earning a degree that future employers and academic institutions will respect and value. Always verify the accreditation status of a program before committing to it.

2. Curriculum and Concentrations

Examine the program’s coursework and available specializations to determine whether they align with your interests and career goals. Seek a program that offers a robust foundation in core political science topics while also allowing you to explore niche areas that pique your curiosity.

3. Faculty Expertise

Investigate the background and expertise of the faculty members in the department. Look for a program with accomplished professors who are active in research or have practical experience in the political arena, as they can offer invaluable insights and connections.

4. Internship and Research Opportunities

Gaining real-world experience is a fantastic way to put your classroom knowledge to use and create an impressive resume. Look for a program that offers internships, research projects, or hands-on learning experiences in the areas that excite you.

5. Networking and Alumni Connections

Networking can play a pivotal role in launching your career. Opt for a program with an active alumni network and opportunities to attend events, workshops, or conferences where you can build connections with professionals in your field.

6. Cost and Financial Aid

It’s essential to think about the total cost of a program and the availability of financial support like scholarships or grants. Don’t let the cost scare you away from chasing your dream degree; explore every funding option and craft a financial plan that fits your needs.

7. Graduation and Employment Outcomes

Investigate the program’s graduation rates and employment outcomes for graduates. This info can give you a better understanding of the program’s quality and how well it prepares students for thriving careers in political science.

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What can you do with a Political Science Degree?

Did you know that well-known figures like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even Condoleezza Rice all hold degrees in Political Science?

Clearly, this versatile degree can take you places – whether you’re aiming for the corridors of power or the spotlight on stage.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of political scientists is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which aligns with the average for all occupations.

This growth is driven by a continued need for experts who can analyze the impact of government policies and political trends.

Salary Potential

The earning potential for political science degree holders is impressive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for political scientists in May 2021 was $122,510.

Of course, the exact salary depends on factors like job title, experience, and location.

Top Jobs you can get with a Political Science Degree:

Political Scientist

Unravel the mysteries of political systems by analyzing their structures, operations, and policies. Help governments, organizations, and citizens understand the implications of decisions on society.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$122,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Policy Analyst

Investigate public issues and recommend solutions by evaluating the effectiveness of existing policies. Your insights will shape future policy decisions for governments and non-profit organizations.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$122,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Political Consultant

Guide political campaigns to victory by developing strategies, managing resources, and analyzing voter behavior. Your expertise will help candidates connect with their target audience.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$122,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Navigate the complex world of international relations by representing your country in negotiations and fostering cooperation. Your diplomatic skills will help promote peace, trade, and understanding among nations.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$122,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Influence government policies by advocating on behalf of interest groups, corporations, or non-profit organizations. Leverage your persuasion skills and political knowledge to make a difference.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$122,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Legislative Assistant

Support lawmakers by researching, drafting, and reviewing legislation. They are the driving force behind political change, assisting with policy development and constituent communication.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$56,230 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Public Relations Specialist

As representatives of their clients, public relations specialists do the critical work of constructing and upholding a positive image within the public eye. PR experts can heavily influence how people view those they represent through media releases, social media campaigns, and other initiatives designed to foster awareness of their client’s endeavors and objectives.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$62,800 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Political Science Professor

Inspire the next generation of political thinkers by teaching courses and conducting research at universities or colleges. Share your passion for politics and help shape future leaders.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$98,420 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


*Please be advised that the average salary provided by BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation, depending on various factors.

FAQ about Political Science Degree Programs

Studying for a political science degree allows you to acquire a diverse skill set that can open doors to numerous career opportunities. These include:

  • Analytical thinking: Understanding complex political systems and concepts requires the ability to break them down, analyze their components, and identify patterns.
  • Research and data analysis: Political science students learn to gather, interpret, and present information from multiple sources using quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • Written and verbal communication: You will learn to articulate your thoughts and findings clearly, both in writing and through oral presentations.
  • Problem-solving: Developing policy solutions and navigating political challenges require strong problem-solving skills.
  • Critical thinking: Evaluating political theories, policies, and arguments necessitates a critical mindset and the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different viewpoints.
  • Cultural awareness and empathy: As political scientists often work in diverse and multicultural environments, understanding and respecting different cultures and perspectives is essential.

Accreditation is crucial when selecting a political science program, as it ensures that the institution and its degree programs meet established quality standards. Accredited programs are more likely to be recognized and respected by future employers and academic institutions. 

Additionally, accreditation may impact your eligibility for financial aid and scholarships. Always verify that the program you’re considering is accredited by a reputable accrediting body.

Many political science programs offer internship and research opportunities for their students. Internships provide the chance to gain practical experience in governmental, non-profit, or private sector settings, enabling students to connect their academic learning with real-life situations. 

Research opportunities may include working on faculty-led projects or conducting independent studies on topics of personal interest. These experiences can be invaluable for building a strong resume and developing professional connections in the field.

Absolutely! A degree in political science provides you with versatile skills that can be utilized in a multitude of careers outside the realm of politics. Graduates can secure jobs in fields like education, journalism, public relations, business, law, and non-profit management. 

The critical thinking, research, and communication skills developed during a political science program are highly valued by employers across various industries.

With their strong research, analysis, and communication abilities, political science graduates are in high demand for careers in both the non-profit and private sectors. 

Potential roles include policy analysts, public relations specialists, community outreach coordinators, and human resources managers. You can also work as a consultant, helping businesses and non-profit organizations navigate the complex world of government regulations and public policy.

There are several professional associations and organizations that political science graduates can join to network with other professionals, stay current with industry trends, and access resources and job opportunities. 

Prominent organizations include the American Political Science Association (APSA), the International Political Science Association (IPSA), and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

While these degrees share some similarities, they have distinct areas of focus. A political science degree provides a broad foundation for studying political systems, institutions, behavior, and ideas applicable to various career paths.

International relations degree focuses specifically on global politics, diplomacy, and foreign policy, preparing students for careers in international organizations, diplomacy, or global NGOs. 

Public administration degrees, on the other hand, concentrate on the management and implementation of government policies and programs, making them.


  • A political science degree is an academic program exploring the intricacies of politics, government, and decision-making processes.
  • The degree levels range from Certificate to Doctorate, offering diverse educational opportunities.
  • Many focused areas of study, like American Government, Public Policy, and Global Politics, shape well-rounded professionals.
  • When choosing a program, factors like accreditation, internships, resources, and cost are key to helping you find the right program.
  • There’s a world of opportunities across various sectors, with promising job growth and salary potential.
  • You can expect exciting job positions like Policy Analyst, Political Consultant, and Public Relations Specialist, utilizing various skills.

Embark on a thrilling journey to become a political change-maker—find your ideal political science degree program today!

Curious about other educational pathways? Discover the diverse world of liberal arts and humanities degrees to expand your horizons!

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