What Can You Do with a Political Science Degree?

Last updated May 8, 2024

In today’s political climate, it is nearly impossible to go a day without reading the news and considering how politics impact our present and future. If this piques your interest, political science programs can provide a deeper understanding of how leaders obtain and maintain power, how social movements originate and gain momentum and how governments and other institutions can operate efficiently and transparently.

These programs also help to explain why voters may prefer one political candidate over another and empower students to make informed predictions about the outcomes of democratic elections. But what can you do with a political science degree in your career?

A degree in political science can open up many career paths. It can help you start a career in politics, policy-making, nonprofit organizations, business, media or education. Political science is also a popular choice for undergraduate students who plan to go to law school. Keep reading to learn more about the degree and potential career paths.

What is political science?

Political science studies politics, government, and people’s behavior in the political arena. Students majoring in political science study political theory, exploring fundamental concepts behind political systems and comparative politics, examining different political systems and their institutions. They study international relations, covering global politics and diplomacy, as well as American politics, to understand the workings of the US government. 

Earning a degree in political science often involves learning highly marketable quantitative skills related to data analysis and statistics. This field covers ethics, justice and democracy, examines government systems and political behavior and applies theory to current events, including critical political issues for college-aged students like student loan forgiveness, racial equity and climate change. 

Students can also study public policy, political behavior and research methods to gain a comprehensive understanding of the political world and its complexities as political science is increasingly becoming more data-driven. 

Politics plays a significant role in almost every aspect of our lives, such as education, housing, healthcare and international relations. Studying political science can provide a comprehensive understanding of the process of creating laws, including the differences in government structures across various nations. You will also gain insights into the development of public policies and how they impact the social and economic conditions of individuals. 

A major in political science can help you gain skills in research, communication and data analysis can be applied in various fields, both in the public and private sectors.

Politics and International Affairs Major

You can study the equivalent of political science at Furman to become knowledgeable global citizens through our Politics & International Affairs degree. By learning about political systems and cultures, we sharpen our communication, critical thinking and analysis skills. This helps us tackle political, social and economic problems.

What can you do with a political science degree?

Political science majors have many job opportunities in public, private and nonprofit sectors. Some work directly in politics and policy, while others use their skills in various careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for political scientists are expected to grow by 7% between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average. Here are a few different fields to consider:

Government and public administration

  • Public policy analyst. When studying the process of generating public policy, political science majors must have strong skills in critical thinking, writing and research to craft clear statements about the nature and impact of proposals for public policy. Policy analysts create a strong thesis and develop persuasive arguments for or against a particular policy initiative. Analysts use their knowledge of the political and legislative process to enlist the support of individuals who can help advance initiatives.
  • Government official. Political science graduates can start their journey to becoming government officials at the local level, such as city council, and then advance to state or federal government positions, including becoming a senator. These roles involve public service, legislation and representing constituents. Political science graduates know how to navigate government complexities to create change in their communities. Internships, campaigns and civil service experience are essential stepping stones to impactful political roles.

International relations

  • Diplomat. Diplomats promote their nation’s goals and maintain peaceful relations with other countries. Political science graduates with a strong foundation in international relations can excel in diplomacy. They start as foreign service officers and may become ambassadors, working on complex diplomatic issues to contribute to peaceful international relations. As ambassadors, they serve as key liaisons between their home country and the international community. 
  • International non-governmental organization (NGO) worker. NGOs cover various causes such as human rights, environment, health and education. Political science graduates can work for NGOs to advocate for change, manage programs and mobilize resources to tackle global challenges. It is an opportunity to influence policy and collaborate with stakeholders while championing their causes.

Law and legal field

  • Lawyer. Political science students can become constitutional lawyers by completing law school. Lawyers interpret and apply principles outlined in a country’s constitution to work on cases involving constitutional issues, civil rights and public policy. These lawyers ensure laws and government actions adhere to the constitution, protecting individual liberties and upholding the foundations of our society.
  • Legal consultant. Legal consultants guide clients through complex legal matters and ensure compliance with regulations. Political science graduates provide strategic legal solutions, manage risk and contribute to client success and integrity within corporations or government agencies.

Media and journalism

  • Political journalist. Political science graduates have a deep understanding of politics and government structures. They can work in journalism, delivering news and analysis that helps the public understand and engage with political issues. Political journalists are crucial in informing and educating the public, holding those in power accountable and shaping public discourse on important societal matters.
  • Political analyst. Political analysts are experts in political systems, research and data analysis. They offer insightful commentary on complex issues, appearing on news programs, writing op-eds or participating in panel discussions. Their role is crucial in helping the public and policymakers make sense of current events, enriching public debates and decision-making.

Did you know?

Furman University has a rich history of producing graduates who excel in fields such as law, public policy, nonprofits and government. The Riley Institute, named after Richard W. Riley, former Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton, was founded in 1999 at Furman University. Riley himself graduated from Furman in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Additionally, the Trone Student Center is named after David Trone ’77, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. If you want to learn more about Furman, we invite you to fill out the form below or schedule a visit today.

Further specializations in political science

What else can you do with your political science degree? Political campaign strategy, public relations and lobbying share the goal of influencing public opinion and decision-making. They involve persuasion, communication and advocacy in politics. These professions rely on well-crafted messages, targeted outreach and relationships with key stakeholders to achieve their objectives. These career paths are interconnected in shaping the political landscape.

  • Campaign manager. Campaign managers plan and execute political campaigns, coordinate teams, set objectives, craft messaging strategies, manage resources and oversee operations. Political science graduates have a deep understanding of political dynamics, communication and data analysis, making them well-equipped to navigate the complex world of campaign management and ensure success.
  • Political consultant. Political consultants advise candidates on campaign strategies, public relations, messaging and voter outreach. With a strong foundation in political theory and analysis, political science students can become trusted advisors to political figures, helping them navigate the complexities of the political landscape.
  • Public relations specialist. Political science students can become public relations specialists by leveraging their expertise in politics, government and communication. Public relations specialists shape the public image of politicians, organizations or campaigns, crafting compelling narratives, managing media relations and developing strategies to maintain a positive reputation. Political science graduates understand political dynamics and policy issues and are well-suited to manage crises and build solid and influential relationships with the public and media.
  • Lobbyists. Lobbyists influence government decisions by building relationships, researching legislation and advocating for their clients. Lobbyists excel at communication and strategy, playing a crucial role in shaping public policies and ensuring diverse perspectives are heard in government.

Make an impact with your political science degree

In today’s world, characterized by complex political challenges and global interdependence, the study of political science plays a vital role in shaping policies and institutions that influence societies on a local, national and international scale. It offers many diverse and socially significant career opportunities, allowing graduates to pursue roles in government, diplomacy, policy analysis, advocacy and international relations. 

Studying political science offers numerous benefits. Not only will you have the opportunity to think critically about important and complex topics, but this degree program is versatile and offers a range of job opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. From consulting to business, finance to journalism, advocacy law, non-profits to government and international affairs to academic research, the possibilities are endless. 

If you’re passionate about uncovering the inner workings of government, policy and law, then political science is the perfect major for you.

Politics and international affairs major at Furman

The Furman Politics and International Affairs department provides students with the opportunity to explore the realms of local, national, and international politics in both theory and practice. The courses, led by experienced faculty members, cover a range of subjects, including public law, Congress, political philosophy and the politics of China.

The small class size allows for better debates, hands-on learning and opportunities to connect with others through Furman’s award-winning Mock Trial program. Additionally, students can participate in national and international internships through faculty-led programs.

The perspectives and thoughts shared in the Furman Blog belong solely to the author and may not align with the official stance or policies of Furman University. All referenced sources were accurate as of the date of publication.