Political scientists study politics, public policy, and the origins and operations of foreign and domestic political systems and theory. Ideal candidates to study political science are generally interested in politics, political affairs, and international relations, and may be more specifically inclined to research related issues such as immigration or the environment. Political science education programs are widely available in traditional as well as online formats, and the field of political science is diverse, offering a range of academic and creative applications for working professionals. A bachelor’s degree in political science provides an advanced understanding of politics as well as political policies, systems, and theory, and also sharpens analytical, critical-thinking, and research skills.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
A bachelor’s degree in political science provides the training necessary for entry-level positions in political science, including research assistants or entry-level policy analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While many senior positions in this field require a master’s degree or higher, pursuing an online political science bachelor’s degree is a timely and cost-effective alternative for students looking to gain an introduction to the field, change careers, or get a job in a closely related area of expertise. A typical political science bachelor’s degree incorporates four years of introductory courses on core topics including politics, the American constitution, environmental policies, state and local government, the presidency, international relations, and statistics. As is the case for most bachelor’s degree programs, any supplemental work experience or internships may enhance job prospects upon graduation from this program.
Getting Into a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Bachelor’s degree program requirements vary according to the granting institution. Generally, political science is a popular major for undergraduates, so while many schools have minimum requirements for admission, above-average qualifications may give you a competitive edge in the application process:
- Some schools require completion of an associate degree from an accredited institution, or a minimum age requirement
- High school transcripts of verification of completion of a GED program (varies by school)
- Application including statement of intent and/or application fees (as applicable, according to school)
Inside a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Bachelor’s degrees in political science are usually comprised of 120-160 course credit hours and take approximately four years to complete. Courses include a broad range of subjects, incorporating a combination of foundation subject courses and electives that are required to complete the degree. Bachelor’s degree students may study American national government, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, and American rights and civil liberties during the course of their undergraduate learning experience. Additionally, students may be introduced to legal brief writing, conflict resolution, and research methods specific to this field.
A variety of online political science B.A. degrees are available for prospective students. While many schools continue to offer a conventional political science undergraduate program, an online bachelor’s is a smart option for students looking to cut down on education costs, fit higher learning into their busy schedules, or learns at their own pace. Not only do students receive the same high-quality instruction as their peers on-campus, but online learning offers students the opportunity to access Internet-based resources and interactive forums surrounding political science, for objective insight in the subject. All assignments are delivered through an exclusive Web interface designed for online learning, and ease of access allows for students to intermittently log in and out of course work at their leisure until the assignment is complete.
What’s Next for Political Science Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Political science has emerged as a popular major of study for American undergraduate students in recent years, which makes this field quite competitive. The BLS reports that bachelor’s degree-holders are eligible for entry-level jobs as analysts or research assistants in the field of political science, but may also choose to apply their skills in a law or business-related practice. Furthermore, graduates of a bachelor’s degree program in political science may go outside of the field entirely and pursue a related career as an economist or legislator, for example, for which a bachelor’s degree is the minimum required level of education.
While entry-level jobs are available to graduates of a bachelor’s program, candidates are more likely to increase their chances of a top-ranking position in this field if they hold a master’s degree or higher. Political science majors with their eye on a master’s program will typically pursue a Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), or Master of Public Affairs degree, which incorporates practical skills and career-minded curriculum into an elevated extension of foundational political science course work. Admittance into a master’s-level political science program requires prior completion of a bachelor’s degree or undergraduate program, and completion of the combined programs requires years of diligent and rigorous study. However completion of a higher degree means candidates are eligible for a career as a political scientist or political science community college instructor, among others.