What In the World Can I Do With a Political Science Major?
Believe it or not, you can do a great deal in the world with a political science major. The content of a political science major and the skills developed in political science courses provide the foundation for many careers. As a political science major, you study government and politics, both in the United States and around the world, how public policies are formed, the ideas and theories that shape those policies, and how people act in their roles as citizens. But along the way you also acquire analytical skills, administrative competence and communication abilities that are valued in diverse occupations.
What Our Graduates Do
- Activist, Advocate/Organizer
- Administration: Corporate, Government, Nonprofit
- CIA Analyst or Agent
- City Planner
- Congressional Office/Committee Staffer
- Coordinator of Federal or State Aid
- Communications Director
- Corporate Adviser for Govt'l. Relations
- Corporation Legislative Issues Manager
- Court Administrator
- Customs Officer
- Foreign Service Officer
- Immigration Officer
- International Agency Officer
- International Research Specialist
- Issues Analyst, Corporate Social Policy Div.
- Juvenile Justice Specialist
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Legislative Analyst / Coordinator
- State Legislator
- University Professor
- Urban Policy Planner
Careers For Political Science Majors
There are 4.2 million civilian and military federal government employees working in federal departments and agencies, ranging from Cabinet-level departments such as Defense, State, Homeland Security and Education, to non-Cabinet agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U. S. Postal Service. Examples of a position in a federal agency would be associate director of communications for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), desk officer for Turkey at the State Department, or attorney in the Criminal Justice Division of the Department of Justice. Working for a federal department or agency does not require one to live in Washington, D.C. In fact, only about 12% of federal civilian employees work in Washington; the other 88% work in the 50 states, in foreign countries, and American territories.
You might consider working for either a member of the U. S. Congress on his/her personal staff or for a congressional committee. Personal staff members track legislation for the members, provide constituency service, and help draft legislation. There are about 11,500 personal staffers. Committee staff members organize hearings, also help draft legislation, and meet with lobbyists. House and Senate members maintain offices in Washington, as well as in their home states and districts. Working on a candidateâ€™s campaign may lead to a position if that person is elected to Congress so think ahead.
State and Local Governments and Tribal Governments
There are 18.6 million state and local public employees across the country. Examples of state and local government positions include township manager, wildlife supervisor for a state department of natural resources, or commissioner of mental health. Members of state legislatures, like their counterparts in the U. S. Congress, also have personal staffs. American Indian tribes have their own government staff. An Eastern alumnus is now an attorney for the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho.
Interest Groups and Associations
The AFL-CIO, the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, the National Right to Life Committee, the National Abortion Rights Action League, the National Council of Churches, the Family Research Council, the Pennsylvania State Education Association are examples of interest groups that are attempting to influence public policymaking at the federal and state level.
If you care deeply about a particular area of public policy and want to impact that policy area, then consider working for an interest group. Although the word â€ślobbyist,â€ť Â has negative connotations, a lobbyistâ€™s role is an important one because lobbying is another way in which the people communicate their views with their elected leaders. Not all interest groups are created equal; some groups have far more money and members than the groups that represent the other side on an issue. This inequality is a problem in American democracy; however, interest groups and associations represent the First Amendmentâ€™s right of association in action.
Examples of positions with interest groups and associations are program director for the Christian organization, Center for Public Justice, executive director for a state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or chief lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The last example reflects the fact that businesses and corporations have government relations offices that track legislation affecting their industries and lobbyists to represent their interests at the state and federal level. This is a growing area of employment. Also, several church denominations have government relations offices located in Washington, DC so that they can voice their views on issues. If you are especially interested in how religion and politics intersect, consider an internship with one of these church offices.
Careers in Law
Law is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States; we now have about 750,000 lawyers. Lawyers may be solo practitioners, helping clients with a range of issues, from personal injury claims, to writing wills, to selling a house. Others may work in a small firm that specializes in labor law or personal injury law. Many work for large firms that focus on corporate and tax law. Â Some lawyers practice criminal law, either as a criminal defense attorney (private attorney or as a public defender) or as a prosecutor (a local district attorney or for the U. S. Department of Justice).
An Eastern alumnus, Bryan Stevenson, heads the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, which represents indigent clients on death row. Other attorneys work in the areas of human rights, American Indian law, immigration, and other public interest law.
Careers Overseas with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
In foreign affairs, NGOs are increasingly important actors. For example, when the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, NGOs such as the United Nations, World Vision, Doctors Without Borders and other relief agencies were instrumental in bringing aid to the devastated areas. NGOs have an ongoing role in the crisis in Sudan. Positions in these organizations often concern development assistance, environment issues, issues revolving around health and population, education, humanitarian relief and research.
Foundations are private, nonprofit organizations that provide grants to nonprofit organizations to support their activities. One of the largest foundations in the United States, the Pew Charitable Trusts (http://www.pewtrusts.com/) , is located in Philadelphia. Other foundations include the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Foundations are also known as grantmakers since they provide money to nonprofit organizations.
Professional Political Scientist
Most who pursue a career in political science find a teaching and/or research position in colleges and universities. For these positions, a Ph.D. is nearly always a prerequisite. Teaching positions at community colleges may not require a doctoral degree. Besides teaching, political scientists may work for professional research organizations, such as The Heritage Foundation or the Brookings Institution, for survey research organizations such as the Gallup Organization, or for foreign affairs research organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations.