Is Political Science A Stem Major?

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When it comes to choosing a college major, there are many factors at play. Some students prioritize personal interests, while others seek out careers with high earning potential or job security. For some students, however, the choice is influenced by more practical considerations like market demand and eligibility for scholarships.

This brings us to the topic of this article: whether or not political science qualifies as a STEM major. STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields have been heavily promoted in recent years due to their perceived importance in driving innovation, economic growth, and national competitiveness. As such, many universities offer support programs and funding opportunities specifically for students studying STEM subjects.

In comparison, social sciences like political science (which falls under the broader category of humanities) may be viewed as less vital to the economy or scientific progress. This has led to debates about whether they should receive similar levels of investment and recognition from academic institutions.

If you’re currently weighing your options or simply curious about the trend towards STEM majors, keep reading to learn more about the arguments for and against classifying political science as a STEM field.

Discover the Truth Behind Political Science as a STEM Major

What is Political Science?

Political Science is a field that studies government systems, political behavior, and public policies. It covers both domestic and international politics in various contexts. Scholars under this discipline explore topics like democratization, globalization, elections, diplomacy, conflict resolution, constitutional law, civil rights, environmental issues, and more.

This area of study requires analytical skills, critical thinking ability, social consciousness, communication proficiency, and statistics/technology expertise.

The STEM Controversy

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines are often associated with high-paying careers and technological advancements. However, many debate whether Political Science should be considered a part of STEM because some people believe it lacks the quantitative rigor and scientific method used to analyze data.

“At its essence, then, Political Science doesn’t fit squarely into any of the four pillars for determining what constitutes a STEM discipline.” -Briana Boaz on Inside Higher Ed

Despite being interdisciplinary, Political Science shares common ground with STEM fields. For instance, Political Scientists use statistical models to forecast election results or measure public opinion. They also employ computer simulations to study clashes between different groups and devise solutions for complex problems like cyber threats or climate change.

Moreover, many Political Science graduates work in industries such as finance, technology, energy, or healthcare, which require an in-depth understanding of policies affecting their operations.

Why is Political Science Important?

If we look at the world around us, we can see how Political Science shapes our daily lives in countless ways. By examining how governments operate and policymakers make decisions, we can gain insights about power dynamics, citizen participation, ethical standards, and accountability standards.

Political science also explores how nations interact with each other and what efforts are needed to maintain peace, build alliances, promote trade, or protect human rights. It helps us understand the complexity of social issues that affect people’s lives, such as income inequality, racism, gender discrimination, healthcare access, climate change, and more.

“The goal of Political Science is to systematically observe and analyze political phenomena so that we can better understand not only politics but the larger world around us.” -American Political Science Association

The Future of Political Science

Political Science has evolved with time and will continue to do so in the future. The rise of technology and globalization means that new challenges emerge every day, requiring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.

To remain relevant and influential, Political Science must embrace interdisciplinary approaches and foster collaboration with different fields. This discipline should be open to adopting new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Analytics to explore uncharted territories in politics.

“There may come a day when Political Scientists are as adept at using machine learning algorithms as they are at using regression analysis.” -Christopher Hare on Forbes

Furthermore, there should be greater focus on diversifying the field by encouraging underrepresented groups in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation to pursue studies in Political Science.

Political Science is a fascinating field that sheds light on different aspects of our society and advances knowledge about governance and policymaking. Whether it is considered part of STEM or not, Political Science plays an integral role in shaping our world and its future possibilities.

Why Do People Think Political Science is a STEM Major?

The debate about whether political science can be considered a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) major has been raging for years now. Traditionally, these fields have been perceived as separate entities that do not intersect. However, the recent emphasis on data-driven research and computational modeling has led to the blurring of lines between the two areas. As a result, some people believe that political science should receive the same acknowledgment as other STEM fields.

Misconceptions About Political Science

Political science is often misunderstood as “just talking about politics.” This is far from the truth. Just like any other STEM field, political scientists utilize empirical methods to generate insight into how societies work in different contexts. They are essential to understanding national and international policy, governance structures, and political behaviors. Political science incorporates many analytical tools, such as statistics, mathematical modeling, simulations, and computer programming languages.

“Political science is vital in ensuring we make informed decisions, particularly those that require an understanding of power dynamics, economics, culture, and other social variables.” – Dr. Christian Leuprecht, Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

It’s unfortunate that people who aren’t well-versed in what political scientists do often trivialize it, leading to the misconception that it doesn’t merit being classified with STEM majors. Even though political science includes discussing ideas and values-based propositions, it’s appropriately structured around rigorously testing hypotheses through empirical evidence.

Similarities Between Political Science and STEM Fields

There are several similarities between political science and STEM fields worth considering when discussing their classification. One notable similarity is the use of rigorous experimentation and observation-based methodology in both areas. Both disciplines also emphasize the importance of understanding cause and effect, which leads to the development of different theoretical models that can be used to predict accurate outcomes.

Another similarity lies in how they deal with systematic data analysis. Both political scientists and researchers in STEM fields use similar tools and techniques to document findings derived from their experiments and surveys. Political science increasingly relies on large datasets, automation, statistical software, and other programming languages available in STEM disciplines. Furthermore, shared interests in quantitative reasoning enables these two areas to come together and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Role of Quantitative Research in Political Science

Until recently, people struggled to put a finger on what qualified an area of study as a “STEM major.” However, the rise of data-driven research has contributed immensely to go beyond traditional classifications. Digging deeper into this gives us insight into how key aspects of research such as empiricity and scalability apply to various contexts.

“Political scientists seek truth through evidence-based inquiry. This means we do not create ‘truths’ by doctrine or dogma but rather through investigations grounded in observation and measurement that permit external validation.” – Dr. John Aldrich, Pfizer-Pratt University Professor at Duke University

The same can be said for political science’s utilization of quantitative methods. Subfields like Comparative Politics have been applying sophisticated methodology for decades now, developing advanced algorithms and formulas to make sense of vast amounts of complex social phenomena. Analyzing spatial and temporal patterns in voting behavior, assessing public opinions about critical issues such as healthcare or immigration regulation, and exploring interactions among individuals under varying circumstances are all examples of some ways quantitative analyses propel our understanding of politics forward.

Consequently, it is clear that there is no doubt regarding whether or not political science should be classified as a STEM field. The discipline incorporates systematic approaches to empirical research, adheres to rigorous methodologies, relies on quantitative data analysis, and has used more sophisticated techniques to answer research questions.

It’s a matter of understanding the underlying methodological aspects used in both types of fields. There is no denying that political scientists use statistical methods and other computational tools like those found extensively throughout STEM disciplines. Therefore, if several essential documents can no longer serve as concrete markers for the definition of “STEM,” how else are we supposed to categorize Political Science?

“The basic course within Political Science concerns the application of scientific methodology criteria to phenomena related to governance: building upon empirical observation and systematic inquiry… while new discoveries inspire revisions and refutation.” – Dr. Peter Gourevitch, Professor Emeritus at University of California San Diego

Breaking Down the Differences Between STEM and Political Science

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. These fields have long been considered some of the most lucrative career paths for graduates with bachelor’s degrees in their respective areas of study. On the other hand, political science is sometimes overlooked as a major for students looking to build more practical skills for entry into a professional career.

The Core Principles of STEM Fields

STEM majors are known for requiring high-level analytical thinking, rigorous coursework, and cutting-edge research methodologies. Graduates in these fields are highly sought after within many industries because they possess highly valuable skills such as computer programming, data analysis, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The core principles of teaching that STEM professors impart include:

  • An emphasis on developing quantitative reasoning skills through abstract modeling and theory building processes.
  • The integration of knowledge from multiple disciplines when approaching complex problems.
  • A focus on creating dynamic solutions by leveraging novel technologies and frameworks.
“The key to success in any STEM field comes down to having a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics, and an intuitive understanding of advanced topics like algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.” -Bill Gates

The Unique Characteristics of Political Science

In contrast, political science encompasses subjects like international relations, comparative politics, public policy, and democratic institutions. While there are some similarities between STEM and political science studies – like analyzing data and presenting arguments based on evidence — there are also significant differences to consider before deciding if this is the right field for you. Here are some unique characteristics of political science compared to STEM majors:

  • Presentation mastery: Students studying political science learn how to present complex ideas clearly and concisely in a variety of public settings. Public speaking and speechwriting are key skills that graduates often use to influence their audiences through compelling messaging.
  • Research ethics: Students in political science are trained to be exceptionally ethical when conducting research and presenting evidence, which is an essential skill for working in government or non-profit organizations where transparency and trustworthiness are highly valued.
  • An emphasis on studying human behavior: Political scientists often study many aspects of social life, including how people make decisions and what motivates them. While STEM fields may intersect with psychology and sociology research occasionally, the focus typically lies elsewhere.
“Studying political science exposes one to the complexities and nuances of governance and diplomacy – all things that eventually impact us as citizens.” -Maha Taibah

So, is political science a STEM major? Unfortunately, the answer will depend on who you ask. Some schools consider political science a part of the STEM category, while others do not. However, there are certainly areas of overlap between these two disciplines, especially within data analysis and modeling, making it possible for students to combine both fields if they so choose. Ultimately, understanding the differences between STEM fields and political science can help guide students toward finding the best fit and career path based on their interests and strengths.

What Are the Career Opportunities for Political Science Graduates?

Political science is an academic field that analyzes and studies political systems, behavior, and activities. It covers various fields like international relations, comparative politics, public administration, and policymaking. Some students often wonder whether political science is a STEM major or not. Well, the answer is no, it’s not. However, today’s modern world needs people who can examine political issues from various angles. The knowledge that you gain in political science could lead to many career paths across different sectors.

Government and Public Service

A graduate degree in political science opens up opportunities in government agencies, including regulatory and diplomatic agencies at local, state, national, and even international levels. If you are passionate about foreign policy, job options include working with the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer, USAID, or other international organizations such as the United Nations. For those interested in domestic policies, jobs may range from legislative aides in Congress, campaign staffers, analysts in think tanks, or legal advisors. According to PayScale, a senior policy analyst with a Master’s Degree in political science earns an average salary of over $80,000 per year.

Law and Advocacy

Many lawyers studied political science during their undergraduate years, and most law schools offer courses related to the field. Political scientists learn how to research and analyze data, write critically about specific viewpoints, and understand the workings of governments and international organizations. This background makes them suitable candidates for law firms and corporate settings. Additionally, pursuing a law degree can help a political science major specialize in areas such as human rights violations, environmental justice, intellectual property rights, constitutional law, and criminal justice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a lawyer has a median-income of around $126,930 per year.

Business and Consulting

Political science majors have developed analytical thinking skills and a broad understanding of the world’s society. As such, they would make excellent analysts in research organizations or strategic consultants. Employers prefer candidates with strong cognitive abilities who can examine data to solve complex problems actively. The private sector is also interested in graduates familiar with public policy and politics for lobbying efforts. Multinational corporations operate globally and require employees to navigate through different cultures and societies; therefore, possessing political knowledge can be valuable when assessing risks and creating new business opportunities. Financial analysts and investment bankers often possess degrees in Political Science which enable them to monitor trends in regulation and emerging markets. According to PayScale, management consultants earn an average salary of over $86,000 per year.

Academia and Research

If you’re passionate about academia, then a postgraduate degree could lead to many career opportunities within academia – like becoming an educator or researcher. A Ph.D. in political science qualifies individuals to teach at universities or conduct academic studies all around the globe. An option available for those pursuing this path is adding on specializations such as comparative politics, public administration, political behavior, international relations, etc. Other options might include conducting research for think tanks or working as independent consultants. However, job prospects in academia remain competitive – according to the Princeton Review, only 52% of postdoctoral students find employment related to their field of study. But for those successful, tenure track professors can expect salaries ranging from $71,000 to upward of $150,000, depending on university location, subject specialization, and affiliated grants.

“The most effective way to become a teacher using your political science degree is by obtaining a graduate degree in social science education.” – Ziarek Kolasa, Assistant Professor of History, Political Science, and Global Security

A political science degree provides graduates with various career opportunities with high demand such as: government agencies, law firms/corporate offices, research/consulting agencies, non-profits/think tanks, media broadcasters, educational institutes- adding significant value to personal and professional growth.

Exploring the Benefits of Studying Political Science Regardless of Its STEM Status

When choosing a college major, students often gravitate towards majors in STEM fields, such as engineering and computer science. However, there are many benefits to studying political science, even if it is not considered a STEM major.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Political science courses require extensive critical thinking skills. Through the analysis of governmental policies and processes, political science majors learn how to think logically, analyze data objectively, and communicate arguments effectively. These skills can be applied to any field or occupation that requires an ability to think critically, from business to law to journalism.

“The discipline of political science provides students with valuable analytical skills that can be used across numerous career paths.” -American Political Science Association

Becoming a More Informed Citizen

By studying political science, students gain a comprehensive understanding of government structures, public policy issues, and current events at both national and international levels. This knowledge prepares them for active citizenship and participation in democracy. It enables them to have informed opinions on critical topics, vote responsibly, participate in advocacy and activism, serve their community, and hold elected officials accountable.

“A good citizen is one who understands his/her rights and duties as a member of a civilized society, and strives to fulfill his/her responsibilities as a good citizen…To achieve this goal, the study of Political Science must form an essential precondition.” -The University of Delhi

Despite its status as a non-STEM major, political science has tremendous value in developing the critical thinking skills needed to succeed in any career and providing the tools necessary to become an informed, engaged citizen. Students should consider including political science in their academic pursuits to broaden their horizons and to better understand the world around them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a STEM major?

A STEM major is a program of study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It focuses on the practical application of these subjects and provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers in various STEM-related fields.

What is Political Science?

Political Science is the study of government systems, political behavior, and public policies. It examines the ways in which power is distributed and utilized, and how decisions are made in various political contexts. It is a social science that seeks to understand and explain political phenomena.

Is Political Science included in the STEM fields?

No, Political Science is not typically considered a STEM field. While it involves research and analysis, it is not focused on the practical application of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Instead, it is a social science that is concerned with understanding political behavior and systems.

What are the requirements for a major in Political Science?

The requirements for a major in Political Science vary depending on the institution. Generally, students must take courses in American government, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. They may also be required to take courses in statistics and research methods. Additionally, many programs require students to complete a capstone project or thesis.

What kind of careers can you pursue with a degree in Political Science?

With a degree in Political Science, you can pursue a variety of careers in government, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and private industry. Some common career paths include working as a lobbyist, political analyst, public relations specialist, or policy advisor. Additionally, many Political Science graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees in law, public policy, or international relations.

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