CareersPage address: http://sbs.mnsu.edu/government/brochures/pscareers.html
Political Science which includes the study of governments and politics is both an old and a new field. In a sense the discipline was founded by the ancient Greeks. However, in using scientific methods to collect and analyze data, it is barely 50 years old.
Political science is very useful. Any citizen should have a basic understanding of politics. A good background in political science can lead to a variety of careers in the world of business and government. Certain careers require extensive training in political science.
The Job Market
The American Political Science Association reports that projections for occupations often selected by political science graduates are "generally encouraging." The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives the following projections for job growth or decline over the 1999-2006 period.
- Social Scientists: +10 to 20%
- Lawyers: +10 to 20%
- Writers, Editors: +21 to 35%
- High School Teachers: +21 to 35%
- Post-Secondary Teachers: +10 to 20%
Hiring needs of government are difficult to predict. Given the political climate large increases in government jobs are not likely. However, politicians are not known for eliminating large numbers of government jobs or agencies.
While a majority of lawyers engage in private practice, they can also be found as salaried employees of corporations, labor unions, trade associations and government.
The federal government includes a tremendous variety of jobs in the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has current information.
State and Local Government
State and local governments have grown in the past decade. The increased professionalization of positions in administration and in legislative branches makes them more attractive to college graduates.
Interest Groups and Associations
With the recent increase in interest group activity, there are now more than 14,000 associations chartered in the U.S., 30 percent of which are located in the Washington, D.C., area. Ninety percent have at least one staff person involved in lobbying, and larger associations may employ fifteen or more.
Private nonprofit organizations operate internationally in a wide variety of areas. International business, banking and finance offer opportunities for both generalists and specialists.
Perhaps up to one-third of political science graduates have found employment in business. Political science graduates may be found in marketing, personnel, advertising, public relations, banking and finance.
A political science background could be seen as almost a prerequisite for effective journalism. There is a close overlap in skills, especially writing and analysis. An understanding of government, politics and power seem essential. The job market is tight and competitive but there is opportunity for those with ingenuity and persistence.
Political science shares its place in the social studies curriculum with many other fields. Those seeking positions at this level should look to a more multi-disciplinary approach. Careers in teaching, in educational administration and in curriculum development are worth considering.
Political Science as a Career
Most of the jobs in the profession of political science are in college and university teaching. Some jobs are found in research organizations. An advanced degree (in most cases, a Ph.D.) in political science is virtually a prerequisite for any of these positions, though some two-year and community colleges may hire as instructors those with a Master's degree (M.A.) in Political Science.
The Undergraduate Bulletin specifies the requirements for every degree. The B.A. degree is designed primarily for students interested in going to law school, or to graduate school in political science, public policy or public administration. Both it and the B.S. degree have three areas that can be selected as a specialty. Area 1: American Politics and Policy. This area is designed for students interested in American politics, and gathering, structuring and manipulating political data. Many career options would be furthered by this track, including work for interest groups, campaigns, parties, American national, state or local government, non-profit organizations and large businesses. Area 2: International Relations and Comparative Politics. This area is designed for students interested in international careers, such as with international organizations and nongovernmental organization, and/or those interested in political systems and processes in nations or regions of the world outside the United States. It has similar job opportunities as the separate International Relations degree program listed below, but is only a concentration rather than a complete degree program. Area 3: Theory and Public Law. This area is encouraged for students interested in the legal profession, and for those interested in political thinkers and their writings. The B.S. (teaching) Social Studies degree with a political science core (a separate program, administered outside the Department of Government) is good preparation for secondary teaching (primarily grades 7-12). It involves political science core, other social studies courses and education courses.The B.S. and B.A. in International Relations are designed to prepare students for employment in any of many types of international organizations. These degrees are administered by the Department of Government and involve 15 credits of required courses and 27 credits from several other disciplines. The International Relations degree (B.A. or B.S.) also requires 8 credits of a foreign language, and also requires an international experiential component, such as a study abroad experience.
Analytical skills such as statistics and familiarity with computers are extremely helpful to most political science majors. The political science major should give serious consideration to an appropriate double major or minor. This will enhance one's professional opportunities. It is extremely important that the students frequently consult his/her advisor about career options, university courses and appropriate second majors and miners. This also makes it possible for the advisor to write a more complete letter of recommendation when needed. Students should also seek out career information available from the Department of Government, Career Development Center, publications and online.Department of Government
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