What can I do with a degree in Politics?

Politics students get many opportunities to develop reading, writing, speaking, and analytical skills that are useful in a variety of fields and careers. Since most of them have an interest in public affairs, they tend to gravitate toward careers that allow them to deal with public issues and work with other people. Many find the career path that interests them requires additional training. Law school is a favorite destination for Politics majors. But there is now an increasing interest in graduate programs — both traditional political science programs and specialized programs (public policy, public administration, international relations, communications, and journalism, for example). Others have gone directly from Centre into careers in government or the private sector. Several have found employment with a political party or an interest-group organization.

Each of the members of the Politics Program is ready to discuss career options with any student. Some of us have taken on special responsibilities in this area, as follows:

  • Dr. Stroup - Law school
  • Dr. Paskewich - Graduate programs in political philosophy
  • Dr. Bosco - Graduate programs in international relations
  • Dr. Knoll - Graduate programs in American politics, state/local politics
  • Dr. Hartmann-Mahmud - Graduate programs in comparative politics and international relations, the Peace Corps, and careers in the Foreign Service.

Be sure to make use of the resources at Centre Career Services, including the section on Academic Internships.

Continuing Your Education Beyond a B.A.

Law School. A degree in Politics from Centre College is a great preparation for law school, as our program offers several pre-law courses including "Civil Liberties" and "Constitutional Interpretation". See Dr. Stroup for more information. You may also contact the American Bar Association or the Law School Admission Council for more information.

Masters Degree. If you are interested in political science graduate study but do not wish to pursue a career in research or college teaching, there are Masters degree programs in political science, many of which are specialized professional programs in public administration, public policy analysis, international relations, and political campaign management.

Ph.D. Degree. Most people who earn a Ph.D. in political science do so with the intention of making careers as academic researchers and college/university instructors. It's important to know that you don't necessarily need an M.A. to enter a Ph.D. program. If you are interested in learning more, see any of the professors listed above who specialize in the area you're interested in. You can also visit: http://www.apsanet.org/gradstudent/.

Career Sectors in Political Science

Business. Many political science majors go on to careers in business; undergraduate political science training offers a good preparation for graduate programs in business. Students who have focused on international relations or country/area studies may find opportunities in international business and trade.

Public Administration, Public Affairs, International Affairs. While careers in public affairs can be pursued with a bachelor's degree in political science, there are graduate programs that offer specialized professional training for careers in public affairs and public service. Graduate programs in public administration, public policy, and political campaign management provide training for management positions in governmental agencies, professional and interest group organizations, governmental relations divisions of corporations, for-profit consulting and market agencies, and the expanding sector of NGOs.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). If you are thinking about a career in public service, consider non-profit, non-governmental organizations and associations. There are NGOs at all levels of government and geographical areas from the local to the global arena, and for virtually all public issues and policy areas, from neighborhood housing and environmental renewal to food banks and youth development to national policy areas such as health, education, civil rights, and criminal justice, to global issue areas of economic and democratic development, human rights, trade, and the environment. NGOs offer opportunities for political science graduates at all degree levels.

Academic Research and Teaching. With a Ph.D. in political science, you will have gained key methodological skills that will prepare you for a career as a college or university professor conducting cutting-edge research in a variety of political science areas including American politics, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, research methods, or other sub-fields. Political scientists who work at colleges and universities often split their time between research, teaching, and service-oriented duties such as committee or advising responsibilities. Research conducted by political scientists appears in a variety of academic journals and textbooks. They often present their findings at academic conferences like the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.

Journalism. If you are interested in a career in print or broadcast journalism, political science training can give you the substantive and analytical background you need. Typically political science courses place heavy emphasis on developing fluid and clear writing and speaking skills. The journalism field can be entered with a bachelor's degree or after completing a graduate program in journalism.

* Portions of the text on this page were reproduced from the APSA pamphlet "Political Science: An Ideal Liberal Arts Major".

Politics major career options

  • Federal government
  • State/local government
  • Nonprofits
  • Law
  • Business
  • International careers
  • Journalism
  • Campaigns
  • Polling
  • M.A./Ph.D. careers
  • Public service
  • Advocate/organizer
  • Budget analyst
  • CIA/FBI agent
  • City planner/manager
  • Congressional staffer
  • Teacher
  • Foreign Service officer
  • Grassroots organizer
  • Lobbyist
  • Peace Corp worker
  • Political consultant
  • Politician
  • Professor
  • And much more!