Advantages of a Political Science Major

If you have a passion for justice, are fascinated by the ways in which a difficult situation can be negotiated satisfactorily for all concerned, or love the mental challenge of chess, you owe it to yourself to look into pursuing a career in political science. Among the many advantages of a political science major are finding exciting and important work in issues advocacy, public administration, the law, political campaigning, elections, and political management. A career in political science can mean world travel for those who have fine-tuned their interests toward global concerns, as well as for those who work in certain areas of the private sector.

Not only are political science jobs often exciting, but they can also be game-changers. Your expertise can result in profound changes that alter the way a policy is enacted, an issue resolved, or a group protected for the better.

A career in political science means you need never be bored. Many political science majors work for a time in public service and then step into private industry to accept lucrative work for an organization, a business, or an industry in a management, a public relations, or an analyst position. As a political science major, you might decide to initially seek work that will help you obtain a wide range of experience, or you may prefer to drill deeply into one or two specific areas in the field. Either way, with time you can use your professional connections and reputation to create your own consulting company. Not only will you get to pick and choose the types of projects that are of greatest interest, but you can also set your own salary, expand your business by hiring others to work on projects that are less fulfilling, and relocate from one part of the country to another without losing your job.

You might be the type of political science major who discovers that it’s the abstract, philosophical areas of political science that sing to you. For people like you, a career in teaching political science at the university, graduate, or postgraduate level can be not only extremely fulfilling, but can also provide a great deal of job security coupled with a high degree of respect. The number and types of advantages for a political science major are limited only by your imagination; as your ability to imagine greater dreams increases with time and experience, so, too, do the advantages increase.

Exciting Profession

There is no question that pursuing a political science degree will lead to an exciting profession that can grow and change along with the skills you develop and the directions in which your special interests take you.

There are a number of federal, state, and regional government careers available to a political science major. However, you may not be aware of the other possibilities that a degree in political science can open up.

For example, if you are determined to leave the world a better place, have very high ideals, and believe that all citizens should participate in actively supporting those aspects of their government in which they believe and challenging those aspects that trouble them, you might have a future as an activist or advocate.

This type of job might involve teaching an involved group the most effective ways to draw attention to their cause, organizing demonstrations, spreading the group’s message using social media and other public resources, and educating the general public regarding the group’s goals. If you are especially concerned about the rights and welfare of our youngest citizens, you should look into career possibilities as a juvenile justice specialist. If you are particularly interested in the rights of the labor force, a position as a labor relations specialist can help you help workers receive reasonable compensation and benefits for the work they do.

If you’ve always dreamed of a career involved with federal or international espionage, your political science degree could result in employment as an analyst or intelligence officer for the FBI or CIA.

If your interests are global, a political science degree can help you find an exciting profession in the world arena. For example, you might find a position as a Foreign Service Officer, working in an embassy or consulate under the commission of the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat creating foreign policy or as an international research specialist.

Perhaps you’re more concerned with United States borders than with those of other countries. You may want to consider a political science major as a way to a career as an immigration officer, making sure that immigrants arrive legally and protecting those who come into the country seeking political asylum. Another exciting profession in this area is that of customs officer, in which you examine goods brought into the country to ensure that no illegal drugs, explosives, or other contraband cross the borders.

If you’re a peacemaker at heart, an exciting political science career in mediation can be yours. You might work for the court system or for private enterprise, helping parties on opposite sides of the table negotiate terms that will help them meet in the middle.

Perhaps you prefer to focus your energies on the corporate world. A degree in political science equips you for an exciting profession here, as well. For example, if you are good with statistics, can plot patterns over time, and can visualize the ways in which a number of factors bear upon one another, you might find great satisfaction working as a corporate analyst. If you are especially interested in the ways corporate actions impact the public, becoming a corporate public affairs advisor will give you an important voice in the process. Anyone who wants to marry an interest in the private sector with laws and regulations might want to investigate becoming a legislative issues manager or government relations advisor for a corporation.

Your degree in political science could even result in an exciting profession as a political commentator, writing for an influential newspaper or magazine, or appearing on the radio or on television.

Specializations in Career Choices

As you research political science undergraduate and graduate programs, it’s wise to pay particular attention to the specializations in career choices each program offers. While there are a number of specializations that nearly all programs feature, others are unique to particular programs.

For example, nearly all schools offer a political science major the chance to specialize in American Government. Some subspecializations are likely to include political behavior, legal processes and institutions, state processes and institutions, and national processes and institutions. Another common specialization is

Comparative Politics or Comparative Governments. This area of focus might examine various global locations to look at the impact of economic, political, and social development on culture, social groups, and gender; to look at how post– Cold War democratization has affected regional development; or to look at conservative religious, ethnic, and cultural reactions to change. This area is likely to offer subspecialties including studies of developing countries, countries that were previously Communist, and industrialized countries.

Another specialization that nearly all schools offer is International Relations. This specialization allows a political science major to look at global social movements, patterns of migration, intergovernmental organizations, unions, multinational corporations, international governmental relationships, and political parties. Subspecialties of this area might include focused studies in national security, foreign policy, international political economics, and international law.

Among the specializations in career choices are jobs that focus on Political Theory. This specialty is largely concerned with exploring a wide range of intellectual approaches to political science, including but not limited to phenomenological, interpretive, transformational, gender, critical and hermeneutic perspectives. These approaches can be examined not only as they are found in traditional political science subjects, but also in any type of social construct, including works of art and cultural activities as well as public policies and politically motivated movements.

Other specializations that are offered by many schools include Political Science Methodology, Public Policy, Public Administration, Empirical Theory, Normative Theory, and Political Science History.

Currently, many schools are exploring other types of specializations. For example, recently the field of political science has become interested in the fact that the rapidity with which industrialized groups continuously evolve means that previous models that considered past actions when determining likely future outcomes have largely been rendered moot. Some political science programs are preparing their graduates for a career specialization in which they consider theories of change and transformational causes and effects to build predictive models that better suit the changing world.

Another area of political science that has become increasingly important is Conflict Resolution. This specialization considers a wide variety of methods and strategies that effectively and efficiently heal differences so that groups with opposing goals can negotiate satisfactory agreements. This specialization includes historical, comparative, and theory-based positions.

What can I do with a Political Science Degree?

Careers for Political Science Majors - Research Paper

Service to Others

While some people are drawn to careers in political science because they are interested in political science theory or statistical analysis, for many others the attraction has to do with fulfilling work in which you are able to provide help to communities and individuals. So important is this aspect of political science that many university programs include the opportunity for a political science major to directly experience service to others as part of the curriculum.

Civic service can take many, many forms. Participating in government is one way political science graduates can pursue a career that will ultimately not only be personally fulfilling but will also improve the lives of other people. Working as a mediator is a type of political science job in which the ultimate goal is healing differences. Mediators often work within the court system to bring opposite sides of a conflict to a meeting of the minds in which everyone sacrifices something in order to gain something. Ultimately, when mediation works, a potentially long and expensive court battle is avoided. This is in the best interests of not only those most directly involved, but also of the community as a whole. Resolving differences through mediation can mean that judges and juries are able to handle those cases that can’t be settled out of court more quickly. Tax dollars are saved, and lives can move forward.

Another way in which a political science major can provide service to others is by acting as an advocate for a group whose special needs are overlooked or ignored. Advocacy work can be wonderfully gratifying, particularly when the group you represent is one in which you have a personal interest. Advocates lobby for health, education, and lifestyle rights for children, the elderly, ethnic groups, religious groups, and groups that suffer from a physical or mental disorder or disease, among others.

Related to working as an advocate is becoming an activist: As an activist, you will do anything and everything to publicize and popularize your cause. You might organize demonstrations, invite the press, and create dramatic, riveting events that draw the attention of the community or the world. Activists also tend to more mundane tasks, such as creating and distributing informational documents from public service announcements to pamphlets.

Many political science majors go on to work in customer service. This is a very large field, with well over two million full-time employees. As a customer service representative, you become the liaison between an unsatisfied customer and a company that has supplied a service or merchandise that is the source of that dissatisfaction.

While service to others is most apparent in jobs that directly improve the lives of individuals, particularly individuals who cannot represent themselves, many other types of political science jobs indirectly provide equally important services to constituents, community members, and social groups that might go unrecognized. For example, FBI and CIA agents regularly put their lives on the line in order to keep safe people who may not even realize their lives are in danger. Analysts may seem remotely involved in human issues, but their careful examination of policies, laws, and other decisions impact the lives of many individuals. Political commentators and political writers are devoted to explaining to the general public in understandable language what governmental or political activities and actions might mean in the future as well as how they will immediately affect the present.

The ways in which political science careers offer service to others are many. In fact, in recent years many nonprofits and corporations have established centers and clearinghouses that study, explain, and offer service opportunities of all kinds. Learn and Serve America, which is funded by the USA Freedom Corps and the Corporation for National and Community Service, offers a number of public service programs and initiatives. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Learning in Deed is designed to ensure the future of service groups by educating and attracting today’s youth to the public service sector.

For anyone who takes pride in providing services that improve the lives of others, a political science major can be the first important step.

Personal Fulfillment

If you are looking into a political science major, chances are that you want a career that will be personally fulfilling above all else. Whether your goal is working in local, state, or federal government; in the public sector; or as a consultant, you’ll find a tremendous number of political science jobs that involve resolving conflicts, righting wrongs, and helping others in ways that are profound. Political science comes down to one thing: civic service. Earning your degree in this competitive and exciting field is a sure sign that you care, and care deeply, that systems of government or organizations with power create and enact policy that is fair, honest, and useful.

It has been said that service to others is ultimately service to oneself. People whose work involves protecting the rights of those who cannot do it on their own — offering guidance and education that will become the tools for greater independence, and placing the needs of others at the forefront of their own daily lives — clearly change the lives of those they serve. But in what way is this service to oneself, as well? Because it feels wonderful to go home at the end of the day knowing that you’ve made a difference, that the difference is cherished, and that tomorrow you can do it all again. One of the greatest benefits of working in the field of political science is that it can be profoundly personally fulfilling.

For example, your work might involve being an advocate for foster children. The impact of the work you do will reach further than you will ever know. You might challenge policy or law that prioritizes other needs above those of the children; a change in policy or law affects not only today’s foster children, but tomorrow’s, as well. Lasting change happens slowly. While most people might throw in the towel and give up advocacy for others as too much work or impossible, as a political science major you’ll be well trained with the strategies and skills you need to present your case successfully and win.

Perhaps it’s the law you love, but not courtroom battles. If so, you might make an outstanding mediator. Because of your political science studies, you know that the law can, at times, seem unfair to an individual in order to serve a greater good or a greater number of people. You believe that if people will just sit down and look at their differences rationally and compassionately, a meeting of the minds can occur in which both sides give a little in order to resolve their issues to everyone’s satisfaction. Using your training and skills as a mediator, you’ll help both sides of a seemingly insurmountable disagreement recognize the worth in setting aside emotion in favor of rationality. You will gain tremendous personal fulfillment in knowing that you’ve not only helped both sides resolve this issue, but also given them tools for handling personal, professional, and legal issues that might arise later in their lives. Not only have you helped your clients, but you’ve also served the greater good by saving taxpayers a lot of money that would have been spent in court, and by freeing up a judge and jury’s time for cases that can’t be resolved through mediation or are of a criminal nature.

As a political science major, it’s no doubt important to you to know you’ll leave the world a better place. But here’s what you may not realize: The good you do throughout your career will have a ripple effect, exponentially increasing and continuing to enrich the world long after you’ve retired. The work you do in the field of political science will matter deeply, not only to your employers, but also to far more people than you can even imagine. Nothing is more personally fulfilling than that.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014


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