Is Political Science A Good College Major? Examining The Pros And Cons

Political science has long been a popular major for students interested in politics, government, and related fields. But is majoring in political science actually a good choice in terms of career prospects, earning potential, and real-world application?

This article examines the pros and cons of a political science degree, skills gained as a poli sci major, and potential careers for political science graduates.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Political science can be a solid college major choice for students interested in politics, public policy, and social issues. It teaches valuable skills in areas like data analysis, communication, and critical thinking.

But job options are broad and salaries vary, so supplemental experience is key.

Benefits of a Political Science Degree

Gain a Broad Understanding of Political Systems

One of the key benefits of pursuing a degree in political science is gaining a broad understanding of political systems. Students in this field learn about various forms of government, political ideologies, and the functioning of political institutions.

This knowledge allows them to analyze and interpret political events and phenomena, helping them make sense of the complex world of politics.

Develop Analytical, Research, and Communication Skills

A political science degree also equips students with valuable skills that are highly sought after in many professional fields. Through coursework and research projects, students develop strong analytical skills, enabling them to critically evaluate information and make informed decisions.

They also learn how to conduct research, gather data, and analyze it using statistical methods. Furthermore, communication skills are honed through frequent writing assignments, presentations, and debates, which are integral to the field of political science.

Foundation for Public Administration, Law, and Other Careers

A political science degree provides a solid foundation for a variety of careers, including public administration and law. Many students who major in political science go on to work in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or international institutions.

The comprehensive understanding of political systems gained through this degree program prepares graduates for roles in policy analysis, public advocacy, and public service. Additionally, the critical thinking and research skills acquired in a political science degree can be applied to a wide range of other professions, such as journalism, business, and education.

Challenges Facing Political Science Majors

Difficulty Specializing With a General Degree

One of the challenges that political science majors may face is the difficulty in specializing with a general degree. Unlike more specialized degrees, such as engineering or accounting, political science offers a broad range of topics and areas of study.

This can make it challenging for students to narrow down their focus and choose a specific career path within the field. However, it is important to note that many political science graduates go on to have successful careers in various fields such as law, government, non-profit organizations, and international relations.

Less Concrete Than More Technical Degrees

Compared to more technical degrees, political science is considered to be less concrete. This means that the concepts and theories studied in political science are often more abstract and theoretical in nature.

This can sometimes make it difficult for students to apply what they have learned directly to real-world situations. However, this does not mean that the knowledge gained from studying political science is any less valuable.

In fact, the ability to think critically, analyze complex issues, and understand the complexities of the political landscape are highly sought-after skills in many professions.

Requires Supplemental Skills and Experience

Another challenge that political science majors may face is the need for supplemental skills and experience. While a degree in political science provides a strong foundation in the subject, it is often necessary for students to gain additional skills and experiences outside of the classroom to enhance their employability.

This can include internships, volunteer work, research projects, or even pursuing a double major or minor in a related field. By supplementing their education with practical experiences and additional skills, political science majors can increase their marketability and stand out in a competitive job market.

Career Paths for Political Science Graduates

Political science graduates have a wide range of career paths to choose from. Here are some of the most common options:

Government and Public Administration

Many political science graduates find fulfilling careers in government and public administration. They can work at various levels of government, from local to international organizations. Political science majors may find opportunities in policy analysis, program management, public relations, or political consulting.

They can contribute to the development and implementation of policies that shape our society.

Law and Legal Fields

Political science is also an excellent foundation for a career in law. Many law schools appreciate the critical thinking and analytical skills that political science majors possess. Graduates can pursue legal careers as attorneys, judges, or legal researchers.

They can specialize in areas such as constitutional law, international law, or public interest law. A political science degree provides a solid background for understanding the legal and political systems.

Journalism, Research, Teaching

Political science graduates can also make an impact in the fields of journalism, research, and teaching. With their knowledge of political systems and policies, they can become political journalists, covering elections, policy debates, and international affairs.

They can also work as researchers, conducting studies on political trends, public opinion, or policy outcomes. Additionally, political science majors can pursue careers in academia, teaching and inspiring the next generation of political thinkers.

It is important to note that these career paths are not mutually exclusive, and political science graduates often have the flexibility to transition between different sectors throughout their careers. They may start in government, then move into law, and later transition into academia or journalism.

The skills and knowledge gained from studying political science provide a strong foundation for success in a variety of fields.

Comparison of Career Paths for Political Science Graduates

Career Path Pros Cons
Government and Public Administration
  • Opportunity to shape public policy
  • Potential for meaningful public service
  • Opportunities for advancement and career growth
  • Can be highly competitive
  • Bureaucratic challenges
  • Political constraints on decision-making
Law and Legal Fields
  • Potential for high earning potential
  • Opportunity to argue for justice
  • Intellectual challenges
  • Intense competition for law school admission
  • Long hours and high-stress levels
  • Continual need for professional development
Journalism, Research, Teaching
  • Opportunity to inform and educate the public
  • Intellectual curiosity and critical thinking
  • Potential for flexible work hours
  • Can be financially challenging
  • Uncertainty in the job market
  • Continuous need for self-promotion

Ultimately, the choice of a career path for political science graduates depends on their interests, skills, and personal goals. It is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option and explore internships or networking opportunities to gain a better understanding of the field.

For more information on political science careers, you can visit The Bureau of Labor Statistics or The American Political Science Association.

Ensuring a Successful Political Science Major

Take Statistics, Data Analysis, and Methods Courses

One of the key components of a successful political science major is a strong foundation in statistics, data analysis, and research methods. These courses provide students with the necessary tools to analyze and interpret political data, conduct research, and draw meaningful conclusions.

By understanding statistical concepts and techniques, students can effectively evaluate political trends, make informed predictions, and contribute to the field of political science.

For example, taking courses in quantitative research methods can equip students with the skills to conduct surveys, analyze polling data, and understand the significance of statistical correlations. These skills are highly valued in the field of political science, as they allow researchers to make evidence-based claims and contribute to academic discussions.

Students can also explore courses in qualitative research methods, which focus on understanding and analyzing non-numerical data. This can include conducting interviews, analyzing historical documents, or examining case studies.

By developing a well-rounded understanding of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, students can approach political science from multiple angles and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Develop Writing and Research Skills

Another crucial aspect of a successful political science major is the development of strong writing and research skills. Political science is a field that heavily relies on written communication, whether it be in the form of research papers, policy briefs, or analytical essays.

Therefore, honing writing skills is essential for effectively conveying ideas and arguments in a clear and persuasive manner.

Additionally, research skills are vital for conducting thorough investigations and gathering credible sources to support one’s arguments. Political science majors often engage in extensive literature reviews and data analysis, requiring them to critically analyze and synthesize information from various sources.

Developing strong research skills allows students to navigate through vast amounts of information and identify reliable and relevant sources.

By taking courses that focus on writing and research skills, students can sharpen their abilities to construct well-reasoned arguments, present evidence, and engage in academic discourse. These skills are not only valuable during their college years but also in future careers, whether in academia, government, or the private sector.

Complete Internships Related to Career Goals

One way to enhance a political science major is by completing internships that align with career goals. Internships provide students with real-world experience and the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in practical settings.

They also allow students to network with professionals in the field and gain valuable insights into potential career paths.

Students can seek internships in various settings, such as government agencies, non-profit organizations, political campaigns, or policy think tanks. These internships can provide hands-on experience in areas such as policy analysis, legislative research, campaign management, or public affairs.

By immersing themselves in these environments, students can gain a deeper understanding of how political science concepts are applied in practice and develop valuable skills that can enhance their future career prospects.

It is important for students to actively seek out and apply for internships that align with their career goals. Many organizations offer internship programs specifically tailored to political science majors, providing them with opportunities for mentorship, skill development, and practical experience.


A political science major can provide an excellent general foundation in government, politics, and policy for students with relevant interests. However, it is important to supplement the degree with hard and soft skills along with practical experience.

Overall, political science is a promising major for the right students with initiative to apply their learning.

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