Political Science Careers
The political science major can be career-specific or career-flexible, in that students develop transferable skills which allow students to work in many fields & also to pursue graduate studies in many areas. Many students pursue a minor, certificate or second major to craft their academic portfolio.
- Communication (both written and oral) – 93% of employers rank a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively and apply knowledge in real-world problem solving to be of greater importance than major of study (the first can be developed within your studies, the second can be partially developed in courses that involve aspects of applied research and service learning, but the application of knowledge in real-world scenarios is best developed in internships (within and outside political science,) along with tasks completed as part of USF student organizations.
- Reading Comprehension
- Logical Reasoning
- Comparing arguments
- Understanding diversity (via courses and experiential learning) and how to interact with those from various backgrounds
- Content specific knowledge (i.e. structure, role and function of Florida legislature, state and local government, US congress, city government, international organizations, etc.)
- Political Science Graduate Studies: (and related campaigns and elections, campaign management, international relations,
and foreign service.) PhD tracks are more focused on careers in Academia with a focus
on research and teaching. Applied masters programs may be much for skill development
focused, like this one at FSU https://coss.fsu.edu/polisci/programs/graduate/masters
or this Masters in Elections & Campaign Management from Fordham https://www.fordham.edu/info/24271/masters_in_elections_and_campaign_management
Recommend Course: Intermediate Research Methods after Empirical Analysis for those planning a PhD in Political Science.
- Law School: Recommend to take Pre-Law Track courses, along with Constitutional Law 1 & 2, Law and Politics, International Law, and also focus on developing argument analysis in Empirical Analysis and critical thinking/reading comprehension in Political Theory courses. If aware of Law focus (i.e. Criminal, Business, International,) there are several courses that can be taken for various areas of law.
- Legislative Assistant: (best suited for those who sub-focus on state government, congress, and legal studies) highly encourage Tallahassee internship program or related experience. Volunteering for a politician in their office to assist with constituents can be a starting point. Recommended Courses: State and Local Government, Florida Politics, The American Congress, Professional Writing, Public Administration, Non-Profit and Public Policy, Public Policy. George Washington has the nations only masters exclusively for legislative affairs.
- Public Administration in State & Local Government: Certificate in business could be valuable in this regard. Highly encourage Legislative Internship Program. Recommended Courses: Intro to Public Administration, Public Financial Administration, Non-Profit and Public Policy, Intro to Urban Politics and Government, Urban and Regional Planning, City Planning and Community Development, State and Local Politics, Florida Politics, Public Policy.
- Federal Government Bureaucratic Departments/Agencies: sub-focus on federal government and policy and perhaps business make sense to augment. Highly encourage Washington Center or other Washington-based internships, such as College to Congress, D.C. Internships.org, Capital Semester program. Recommended Courses: The American Presidency/Congress, Intro to Public Admin, Public Policy, Public Financial Administration…& others per interest area.
- Non-Profits that execute, implement or work within the framework of federal, state, local legislation and statuary requirements: supplemented with courses in either state/local/federal, or IR – depending on interests, and perhaps minors/electives in leadership, public administration. Recommended Courses: Non-Profit and Public Policy, Intro to Public Admin, Public Policy, Public Financial Administration, City Planning and Community Development.
- Foreign Service & Intelligence in Federal Departments & Agencies focused on international diplomacy/security: (best suited to students with a sub-focus in IR/US For Policy, Intelligence or Security studies, and with advanced language proficiency per a minor. Minor in Intelligence Studies recommended. Recommended Courses: US Foreign Policy, Globalization, International Wealth and Power, ASN coded area studies courses (Middle East, Japan, China,) Europe, Latin America, International Law, International Organizations, International Human Rights, Conflict in the World, and INR 4931 Special Topics, Politics of Developing Areas. Top 25 International Relations Masters Programs https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2011/1020/Top-25-International-Relations-master-s-degree-programs/The-top-five
- Journalism: is another option, by pairing with minor/major in an area like English, or Mass Communications. Recommend coursework to develop writing skills in English/Mass Comm.
- Public Relations and Political Lobbying: Active in both the executive and legislative branches of government, lobbyists often work for special interest groups in order to influence policymakers with the hopes of currying their favor per the heavy demand for diplomatic communication, and understanding your audience. Adding a mass communications minor or double-major recommended. Also, ability to use statistic and data persuasively, developed in Statistics and Empirical Analysis, would be very helpful in this area. Recommended courses: Political Behavior, Public Opinion, and Elections, Political Parties and Interest Groups, then courses in the areas you are passionate about (i.e. Human Rights, Environmental Policy, US Foreign Policy, etc.) Many students may consider graduate programs like this at George Washington~ https://gspm.gwu.edu/strategic-public-relations American University also has a Political Communications Masters Program
- Public Policy or Public Administration: sound similar, but this article explains the differences quite well: https://mpadegree.org/mpa-vs-mpp-5-differences-between/ Public Policy focused students are encouraged to consider a minor in Economics, or to consider a minor in the area they wish to focus their studies on (i.e. Environmental Science & Policy, Immigration/Human Rights, Public Health.) USF has a Public Administration program you may consider. For those planning on Public Policy, an internship with a Think Tank is recommended. Some Public Policy Programs: American University
- Urban and Regional Planning: Urban planners create and implement land-use plans that determine what kinds of buildings will go where, setting the course for what a city or town will look like years down the road. They’re involved in discussions with other leaders on areas where growth should be encouraged and other spots where it may be inappropriate. Recommended minor in Urban & Regional Planning, with a masters in that area. Minors in Leadership, Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy could also be beneficial.
- Non-Profit Social Activism: perhaps with a minor in Leadership Studies or Sociology. would be another avenue. Community organizers act as local leaders to accomplish specific goals. Their duties include lobbying for legislative change, organizing rallies to build awareness of critical issues and strategizing new ways to improve the lives of community members. Understanding how the system functions, helps understand what is wrong and how to change it. Development officers organize events and campaigns to raise money and donations for an organization. Your job may include designing promotional materials and increasing awareness of an organization’s work, goals and needs.
- Urban Government: Recommended courses: Non-Profit and Public Policy, Intro to Public Admin, Public Policy, Public Financial Administration, City Planning and Community Development, Intro to Urban Politics and Government
- Social Science/Statistics based research positions: (with organizations like Gallup) Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and
analyze the results. The surveys can be used to collect factual data like employment
and salary information or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions,
preferences, beliefs or desires, and are used heavily in political campaigns, and
by special interest groups.
Recommend Courses: focus on success in Empirical Analysis, and take Intermediate Research Methods. Stats or math minor if so inclined.
- Business: Paired with a Certificate in General Business. A Certificate in Sales could also make sense for someone interested in working in campaign management, marketing, lobbying, or related areas. Per stats learned in POL: Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. In this role, you would help companies understand what products people want, their target audience and reasonable selling prices.
- Non-Profit Social Entrepreneurship: via an Entrepreneurship minor, if you wish to pursue forming some type of for-profit or non-profit political organization, or other type of non-profit Entrepreneurship to advance some type social cause in society. For example, we had a recent graduate found a program to provide Pell Grant eligible students access to legislative assistant positions in Washington, by developing a funding source to allow these students to have their living expenses covered while on the internship. Will have the statistics, analysis, communication skills desired.
- Teaching Middle or High School Government/Civics: via a Masters of Arts in Teaching or Concurrent Degree in education via http://www.usf.edu/education/areas-of-study/social-science-education/programs/bachelors/index.aspx
Stephen Sovilla, Academic Advisor