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Political Science as a major, often referred to as PolySci, is the study of systems of government, whether that be a democratic, oligarchic, anarchic, or one of the many other systems under which humans organize themselves. The focus of this area of study is figuring out how to navigate the minefield of politics through extensive knowledge of history, political philosophy, and current happenings. Political science is offered at just about every degree level, including associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctorate.
Getting an associate’s degree in political science will give an overview, with the curriculum broadly touching on most facets of the subject. The American government and politics, along with international and comparative politics, will be addressed, as well as state and local government and religion. Completing this 2-year degree, unlike many others, will provide the qualification necessary for entry-level work as a paralegal or assistant at a law firm, though applications with an associate degree won’t be as competitive as those with a baccalaureate.
The average salary for an individual with a PolySci associate’s degree is $42,000.
At the baccalaureate level, the curriculum will dive deeper and can include a wide array of class options, as well as concentrations in public administration, public policy, global politics, and more. Completing a degree in political science can lead to any number of careers, including as a lawyer. If that’s the end goal, the institution will have to be accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), which currently has assessed and accredited more than 200 schools.
Baccalaureates in political science come in two forms, as a bachelor’s of art or a bachelor’s of science. A BA in political science will include a rounded, liberal arts education, whereas a BS will focus more in science and mathematics. Depending on the intended career, a BS will provide more training for understanding and calculating statistics.
Most political scientists are employed by the government, but there are any number of career options: Policy Analyst, Legislative Assistant, Public Relations Specialist, Political Consultant, Marketing Research Analyst, Social Media Manager, Intelligence Analyst, Political Campaign Staff, Lobbyist, News Reporter, Survey Researcher, Community Organizer, Development Officer, International Business Specialist, PR Specialist, Political Commentator. The average entry-level salary for this position is $45,000.
Political science master degrees are typically 1 to 2 years and allow students to concentrate on a specific area. The most common options are in public administration, public policy, or public affairs. On top of that, there are specializations within those concentrations to choose from, including research methodology, statistics, policy information, and program evaluation. A master’s degree in this area will open a few doors, mostly for higher ranking positions or pay in the same areas as a baccalaureate.
Earning a PhD in Political Science can take anywhere from 5 to 7 years and is usually indicative of wanting to remain within academia. It gives the credentials required to teach at the university level and is a common choice for doctoral education.
If a legal profession is the end goal, a Doctor of Jurisprudence is the next step. The program must be completed in a strict three years, with the first year of education following a firm curriculum from the American Bar Association.