Choosing a major is a significant decision that can impact your future career and life choices. It’s understandable to question whether investing time, energy, and money in pursuing a degree in Political Science is worth it.
On one hand, Political Science graduates possess valuable knowledge and skills that are relevant for various industries and job markets. They can analyze political systems, policies, institutions, and actors, as well as comprehend how power, ideology, and conflict shape the world we live in.
On the other hand, some argue that having a Political Science degree may not lead to lucrative or stable job opportunities compared to other fields of study. You may face intense competition, low salaries, and have limited growth potential without further education or experience.
It’s essential to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision about whether or not a Political Science degree is worth it for you. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining a Political Science degree, so you can make an informed choice that aligns with your goals and aspirations.
Pros of pursuing a political science degree
Develop critical thinking skills
A political science degree is an excellent means of developing your critical thinking and analytical skills. You’ll learn to analyze complex problems, critically assess information and data, and evaluate evidence in support of different viewpoints. These are key traits that will set you apart not only as a political scientist but also in other areas of life.
In today’s world where misinformation can lead to irreparable damages, critical thinking has become paramount. Political science helps you develop such analytical thinking frameworks by training you on analysis, synthesis, interpretation, and application of concepts; all essential for professional success.
“The study of political science fosters informed citizens who respect rigorous reasoning and sound judgment, which are vital attributes in numerous professions” -Karen Hult
Studying political science provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the underlying philosophies behind different political systems around the world. This knowledge is necessary to make informed decisions as leaders or voters.
An important aspect of political science is gaining insight into how individuals interact with their environment and society. By studying movements and ideologies from history alongside contemporary politics, issues like race relations, gender equality, and human rights become more transparent. As an aspiring public servant, this understanding equips you with foundational knowledge to help work towards societal development.
“Good government is a true embodiment of divine principles, a reflection of divine attributes, and a wellspring of peace, order, stability, and happiness for humanity.” ― Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
Opportunities for global citizenship
A political science degree opens up many opportunities to pursue careers at international organizations and NGOs working across borders. It offers a considerable advantage if you want to work in the global community or develop your career working with other nations.
Additionally, many international agencies and foreign services prioritize graduates from political science when recruiting for their positions. Political science provides an excellent foundation for those interested in politics, diplomacy, leadership, policy formation as well as law
“Political science training is vital for entering government service; it prepares one not merely for employment but also for lifelong engaged citizenship.” -Karen Hult
The Bottom Line: Is A Political Science Degree Worth It?
A degree in political science is worth pursuing considering the numerous opportunities available. The advantages mentioned above of studying this subject can translate into exciting careers both domestically and globally in governance, civil society organizations (CSO), Think Tanks research, media, and academics among others. Additionally, such a degree equips you with valuable skills like effective communication, rigorous analysis, data interpretation as well as critical thinking essential for all professions.
The pursuit of a political science degree comes highly recommended for students interested in public policy, international relations, domestic affairs, human rights as well as social reform movements that seek sustainable development. Such knowledge is essential for anyone seeking established success in their professional lives while making positive contributions to wider society.
Cons of pursuing a political science degree
Difficulty finding employment without further education
A common concern for students seeking to pursue a political science degree is the difficulty of finding employment after graduation. The truth is, unless you plan on continuing your education by pursuing graduate studies or law school, job prospects can be limited.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for political scientists is only expected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations. Additionally, many government positions require security clearances and background checks that can prolong hiring processes.
“In today’s highly competitive job market, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science alone may not give job seekers the marketable skills they need to compete with other candidates,” – Dr. Lucien Ellington, Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
It’s essential for students to gain experience through internships or volunteer opportunities while pursuing their degree to make themselves more marketable to potential employers. Networking and building relationships with professionals in the field can also increase job opportunities upon graduation.
Heavy emphasis on theory over practical skills
Another downside to obtaining a political science degree is the heavy emphasis on theoretical concepts rather than practical, hands-on experiences.
Political science courses often focus on analyzing political structures, history, and philosophical ideas but lack real-world applications and skill development. This can leave graduates feeling ill-equipped to handle the demands of political careers.
“There are some college programs where students really learn how politics works… What you’re doing is coming out as an advocate with one viewpoint. And it might be very well thought out, but I’m not sure what those students are learning about the mechanics of how government works.” – David Weigel, Political reporter at The Washington Post.
Applying for internships or joining student organizations can supplement coursework by providing practical experience. Additionally, seeking out elective courses that focus on skill-building such as communication, leadership, and teamwork can set students apart from their peers and equip them with valuable career skills.
The decision to pursue a political science degree ultimately depends on the individual’s goals and aspirations. While the potential job prospects may be limited without further education, those who are passionate about public service and policy-making may find fulfillment in pursuing this path.
To increase your chances of success, it’s essential to make yourself marketable through obtaining relevant work experience, networking, and building strong relationships with professionals in your field. Balancing theoretical knowledge with practical skill-building can also make you more competitive in a highly selective career landscape.
Job opportunities with a political science degree
If you’re considering pursuing a degree in political science, one of the biggest questions on your mind is likely whether or not it’s worth it.
While there are certainly no guarantees in life, a political science degree can open up many doors for you in terms of job prospects. Here are just a few examples of potential jobs you could pursue with this degree:
Political science graduates often find themselves well suited to careers in government due to their deep understanding of political systems, both domestic and international. Here are a few examples of government positions that may be appealing:
- Legislative staffer: Working for members of Congress to research policy issues, draft legislation, and advise elected officials on various matters.
- Campaign worker: Assisting candidates running for office by conducting research, organizing events, managing social media accounts, and more.
- Public administrator: Managing government programs and services at the local, state, or federal level, including everything from transportation systems to public schools.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), work in this field is expected to grow by around 5% over the next decade, which is about as fast as average compared to other industries. Keep in mind, however, that competition for these positions is expected to remain very high.
If you want to make a difference in the world but don’t necessarily want to work in politics, a non-profit career might be right up your alley. Here are a few examples of non-profit jobs that may be ideal for political science majors:
- Grant writer: Researching available grants and writing proposals to secure funding for non-profit organizations.
- Community organizer: Mobilizing people around issues that matter, whether through rallies, door-to-door campaigns, or social media outreach.
- Advocacy coordinator: Helping non-profit organizations make a difference by lobbying lawmakers, testifying at hearings, and building support among the public.
Job growth in this field is projected to be slower than average over the next decade. However, there will certainly still be jobs available to those who are passionate about this type of work.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an educator, there are plenty of opportunities to do so with a degree in political science.
- High school teacher: Teaching students about history and government, including current events and how they relate to larger global issues.
- College professor: Conducting research on political systems, theories, and ideas, and teaching undergraduate or graduate students how to understand them better.
- Policymaker: Working within universities or think tanks to develop policies and recommendations aimed at solving real-world problems faced by governments, businesses, and communities.
The job outlook for educators is also expected to be slower than average over the next decade, but it’s worth noting that political science degrees can open up doors outside of traditional academia as well. Media outlets, consulting firms, and other organizations all hire experts to analyze political trends and help them make informed decisions.
“Most students assume that if they get a degree in political science, they have to work in politics. But there’s a lot of other opportunities out there, too.” -Dr. Ali Gheissari, Director of the Political Science Program at the University of San Diego
Whether or not it’s worth pursuing a degree in political science depends on your own individual ambitions and career goals. However, it’s clear that this degree can provide ample job opportunities for those who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication needed to succeed.
Salary expectations for political science graduates
A common question that students pursuing a degree in political science often ask is whether the investment in their education pays off with a competitive salary. While compensation varies by location, industry, and experience, political science graduates earn salaries at all levels of expertise.
Starting salaries for entry-level positions
The average starting salary for a recent graduate entering an entry-level position in political science ranges from $35,000 to $50,000 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2020, the median annual wage for political scientists was $130,950, which equals an hourly rate of $62.99. According to the same report, the bottom 10 percent of earners earned less than $67,450 while the top 10 percent took home more than $195,220 yearly.
Salaries for entry-level jobs depend on various factors such as region, specialization, job title, and sector. For example, someone working in government or nonprofit organizations can expect a lower base salary compared to those who work in private sectors, such as law firms or corporations.
Median salaries for mid-level positions
According to PayScale, the median salary for a mid-career Political Scientist (5-9 years of experience) is $87,155 per year. Similarly, Indeed reports an average salary of $88,497 annually for roles such as Policy Analysts, Public Affairs Specialists, and Legislative Assistants within five to nine years into their careers.
As one gains knowledge and experience in the field, they’re likely to advance through titles like Project Manager, Research Director, Senior Consultant, or Lobbyist— all of which come with higher pay. With over ten years of professional involvement, top-notch capabilities and exposure, it’s common for professionals in this field to earn around six figures a year.
Potential for high salaries in specialized fields
Political scientists with unique skills can work as consultants or freelancers and turn their potential into earnings. Political consulting is one of the most profitable niches within political science; many political strategists and campaign managers command hundreds of thousands of dollars per election cycle.
Other examples include lawyers specializing in advocacy, earning an average annual salary of $144,230. Meanwhile, think tanks offer seasoned professionals serious paydays if they’re willing to create policy reports and monographs. Professionals at senior levels could be paid up to $216,000 annually by these firms. Higher salaries can also come from executive positions for organizations that require political acumen in areas such as government affairs, public relations, and international business.
“A political scientist working for a private firm might earn much more than a low-level career politician.” -Margaret Burke, Top Degrees Online
While a degree in political science may not guarantee exceptional wealth like some other lucrative fields, there are several professional opportunities available to graduates depending on their expertise, experience, and willingness to pursue specific roles. Overall, earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in political science could be worth the investment since it opens doors to satisfying careers with competitive salaries and advancement opportunities.
Skills developed through a political science degree
A political science degree offers plenty of opportunities for education and gaining valuable skills that can be applied to various careers. While some may question the worthiness of a political science degree, it is important to understand the different types of skills that are learned in earning this degree.
Research and analysis skills
One of the most important abilities gained from pursuing a political science degree is extensive research and analytical skills. Students learn how to identify credible sources and decode complex information on various subject matters. This skillset is widely applicable across different industries and can even help young professionals in their personal lives. The ability to conduct thorough research and analyze data will always remain essential in our knowledge-based economy.
“To succeed as an innovator you need critical thinking because there are so many moving parts, and you have to drill down into why things are working or not.” -Shelly Kapoor Collins
Communication and writing skills
Critical communication skills and honed writing techniques are developed while studying Political Science. As part of their studies, students are required to write papers discussing topics like lawmaking processes and policies. It’s compelling to find out how any changes made to regulations impact the society we live within. Curriculum includes proper formatting, grammar, style punctuation which leads to being articulate both orally and textually. Blending these functional literary talents with convincing rhetoric helps boasters one’s influencing capabilities and master public speaking skills.
“The best way to improve your writing is to read good writing. You are already doing that…” — Stephen King
Leadership and teamwork skills
Through presentations, group projects and collaborative work, Political Science majors develop proficiency in leadership. Teamwork is something very much integral to politics and government because communication, problem-solving and negotiation are pertinent skills in all political sectors. These practical experiences can later be applied into career settings where coworkers look for those who understand how to create alignment towards a common goal.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” -Michael Jordan
When majoring Political Science, you will often encounter complex moral dilemmas without straight forward answers; This is usually expected in society-driven fields since it is people’s opinions that determine policies broadly. When individuals pursue degrees in such areas it important the importance of respect diversity and kindness when communicating through various platforms like mass media or campaign events etc.. The studies also teach much on citizenship responsibilities which one must uphold while taking personal initiatives.
“The spread of civilization may be likened to a fire; First, a feeble spark, next a flickering flame, then a mighty blaze, ever increasing in speed and power.”- Nikola Tesla
No matter what sector young professionals end up working in, having an understanding of fundamental research skills, efficient group collaboration methods, proper writing techniques, as well as ethical business practice concepts and societal principles makes them stand out. A political science degree not only prepares students to work within their area of interest but supports building life-long successful professional careers across many different industries.
Factors to consider before pursuing a political science degree
Career goals and aspirations
If you are considering a political science degree, it is crucial to assess your career goals and aspirations. Political science graduates typically work in law, government, non-profit organizations, journalism, education, or business. Before pursuing this degree, ask yourself if these fields align with your long-term career objectives.
A political science degree can provide students with valuable skills such as analytics, problem-solving, excellent communication, research abilities, and critical thinking. These traits could be useful in different fields. Therefore, choosing the right path for your interests is essential while chasing a political science degree.
The cost of college continues to rise each year. Tuition fees vary across institutions, which means that spending four years studying for a political science degree has significant financial implications. As you weigh up whether to pursue this degree option, it’s essential to think about how much tuition fees will impact you financially.
You should research all available financing options—scholarships, student loans, grants, part-time jobs—to manage tuition fees effectively. This way, getting a degree will not put unnecessary pressure on you financially, especially when looking at job prospects after graduation. Be sure not to miss out on great opportunities due to student loan payments hanging over your head.
Interests and passions
Your passion plays an integral role in your overall satisfaction with your career. A lack of interest in coursework will often result in poor grades and an unhealthy learning experience. If you have a keen interest in politics and social issues, a political science degree program may be perfect. If not, other fields may deliver a more satisfying academic process and ultimately lead you towards a promising career.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” -Frederick Douglass
It’s essential to choose a career that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. If politics does not excite you or align with your interests, pursuing a political science degree may not be worth it.
Alternative degree options and career paths
A political science degree might seem like the only path toward a political career, but some alternatives can lead to similar results. For instance, if working for a nonprofit seems interesting, business, law, non-profit management, public administration could all equip you with valuable skills in the nonprofit landscape. Likewise, social policy, urban planning degrees, or sociology have related disciplines to Political Science which allows students flexible career paths while having an understanding of governance and/or international affairs. Researching alternative degrees can help open up opportunities beyond those initially considered.
In conclusion, before deciding whether a political science degree is worth it, consider assessing financial costs, passions, alternative programs and future career aspirations as all can play a significant role in achieving success.
Frequently Asked Questions
What career opportunities are available with a political science degree?
Political science opens up a world of career opportunities, including government positions such as policy analyst, diplomat, or legislative assistant. It can also lead to careers in law, journalism, or nonprofit organizations. With a political science degree, graduates can work in political campaigns, public relations, or become lobbyists.
What skills can be gained from pursuing a political science degree?
Pursuing a political science degree provides students with a wide range of skills, including critical thinking, research, and analytical skills. Students also gain strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as an understanding of political institutions and processes. Additionally, students enhance their skills in public speaking, problem-solving, and teamwork, making them well-rounded individuals.
What is the average salary for someone with a political science degree?
The average salary for someone with a political science degree varies depending on their career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for political scientists is $125,350. However, those in government positions typically earn less, with a median annual wage of $71,590. Non-profit organizations and private sector positions can also offer competitive salaries.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting a political science degree?
One advantage of obtaining a political science degree is that it provides a solid foundation for a career in politics, law, or public service. Students also gain valuable skills such as critical thinking and communication. However, one disadvantage is that political science can be a competitive field, and job opportunities may be limited. Additionally, students may accumulate debt from their education, which can be a financial burden.
What other degrees or fields of study can complement a political science degree?
Political science is a versatile degree that can be complemented by other fields of study. For example, a degree in economics can provide a deeper understanding of policy-making and government intervention. A degree in law can prepare students for a career in the legal field. International relations, history, or sociology can also be complementary fields of study for political science majors.