Political Science Degree: Course Guide and Fun Facts


Does American politics fascinate you and get you riled up during election season? How do you feel about international affairs and the development of political systems around the world? If we have piqued your interest, you may be the perfect candidate for earning a political science degree.

Political Science Degree

Political Science Degree 3Political science is the in depth study of the government, public policies and political behaviors. Student that go to school to earn a political science degree will learn about the humanistic position and how to use scientific skills together to examine the political structures of the United States as well as other countries around the world.

During the process of earning a political science degree, you will be able to sharpen your writing skills, perfect your ability to communicate, fine tune your analytical thinking skills and lock in your ability to use a computer. You will take many different course throughout earning your degree and each with help you develop the necessary critical thinking skills as well as learn how to work independently as well as with others. Earning a political science degree will also keep you up to date on all of the latest current events that are in the news.

Political Science Degree Options

When earning a degree in political science, it’s probably a good idea to be prepared to spend a pretty decent amount of time in school. For the most part, jobs that are available for polititcal science majors will likely require applicants to have at least a master’s degree. You can definitely go the distance if you’d like to, though, and aim for a Ph.D. Our motto has always been, go big our go home and that applies to earning degrees too.

We’d like to tell you about each different degree phase that can be achieved in the political science field. We’ve also plan to tell you about some schools that offer a program for each phase required. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s get this party started!

Associate’s Degree With a Twist

Most of you probably know this already, but for those that don’t, here’s a little tid bit about earning an associate’s degree. These degree year degree programs do not usually specialize in one specific field. They instead require students to complete a certain amount of general education with the ability to take elective classes that will provide a good introduction to the intended major at a four year college. So, what we are saying essentially is that you can earn an associate’s degree with a political science twist.

The University of Wisconsin Colleges has a special associate’s degree program that has the extra special twist that we just mentioned. Unlike some 2 year colleges, the University of Wisconsin College offers several political science classes. Each of these classes will give you a nice and solid foundation for when you transfer to complete your bachelor’s degree and beyond. Do you want to know what some of the classes available are? Yeah, we thought you’d like to know, so here we go!

  • American Government and Politics: This course will give you a view of government and politics in the United States from an analyitical perspective. Some of the other topics that will be covered in detail are government institutions, groups, beliefs and ideas that are integral t the U.S. Government and its politics.
  • Comparative Politics: Comparative politics courses offer introductory knowledge base of the comparative study of how political parties function and public interest groups. This course is comprised of three main components: introduction to the political parties, interest groups and how they play role in demographics, how these political parties impact the United States and how the political parties impact other countries and governments.
  • Introduction to Public Policy: Much like the name of the course suggests, it offers an introduction to some of the current issues that impact American public policy. You will be able to review the various roles of interest, political institutions, governmental and nongovernmental actors and how all of the impacts the molding of public policy.

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Degree

The next step down the road to tackle a complete political science degree is to earn a bachelor’s degree. During the process of earning your bachelor’s degree in the political science field, you will work really hard, but will be able to develop a ton of very important skills. Your ability to use reasoning skills to analyze data that directly impacts politics and government will be top notch. There is an emphasis in writing projects that require a lot of research and will result in helping you to prepare for a job in the field. This is really a research heavy degree level, so be prepared to work into the wee hours of the night while you are hunched over piles of books.

Penn State University has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science degree, so if you’ve always wanted to be a Nitany Lion, this may be just the school for you. There are some really interesting courses available at Penn State University, which we will tell you about now!

  • Introduction to American National Government: This is an introductory class that covers the development of the political culture in American. You will also learn a great deal about the constitutional and structural arrangements, policies of elections, sources of conflict withing the nation and about the consensus
  • International Relations: The relationship between the United States and our governing forces and those of international relations are discussed in this class. There will be a break down of how foreign governments function, nationalism, imperialism, diplomacy and how all of these things impact current war and peace
  • Rights in America: This course takes a look at the impact on the rights of American citizens from various standpoints from both a historical and modern day perspective.

Master’s of Art Degree in Political Science

You are almost in the final stages of completing a study in political science! By the time you enter into your master’s degree, you will have clocked in 4 years and will have 2 more to complete to earn your MA. We know you can do it, though! Once you are in this phase of your schooling you will already have a really solid understanding of political science. You will need to decide if you are more interested in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations or Public Policy. The main goal of a Master’s in Political Science degree is to work in either research or as a teacher. If you have big dreams, you can also consider this a good start to a career as a politician too.

There are a lot of colleges out there that offer master’s degree programs in political science, so it was a bit hard to decide which one to tell you about today. We landed on Purdue University College Liberal Arts because a commercial for the chicken company, Perdue came on right as we clicked on the college’s link. So, Purdue University offers a Master’s of Arts in Political Science degree and also happens to have some pretty awesome classes for their graduate students to take. Want to see?

  • Introduction to Public Policy and Public Administration: This course will take a detailed look at how public policy and public administration functions in American. There will also be discussions about the differing approaches that are taken when evaluating and attempting to improve the many public policies.
  • Governments of the World: Governments and politics of the world are discussed in this course. This is a helpful class for those that intend to specialize in international politics because it provides students with many tools that are needed to accurately understand what is happening in the current events in countries that are outside the United States. Be prepared to do a lot of reading and talking about what you read as a part of this class.
  • Women, Politics and Public Policy: This is an interesting class that examines the roles that women have in the political arena with a focus on their part in the United States and other developing nations. The structural and attitudinal conditions that serve as a disadvantage to women as a whole and the work that is being done to change it is also a key point that is discussed here

Graduate Studies in Political Science

You are now in the final stages of earning a political science degree and have spent around 6 years in school. We know you are probably going to be tired of studying, writing research papers and countless hours spent over your laptop. It will all be worth it in the end.

The process of finishing up your graduate degree in political science will be somewhat different than what you have been doing up to this point. You will spend your time performing high level research, working in the field and earning hands on practical experience through internships and by working closely with your professors as assistant teachers.

That’s all there is too it! We know it’s not the easiest process to go through, but if you are interested in politics and have a passion for how it effects our country, you will probably be up for the challenge.

What Can I Do With a Political Science Degree?

Naturally, you are going to want to know what you can do after you’ve spent all that time in school and lucky for you, we are in a sharing mood!

Government and Advocacy Jobs

Political Science Degree 4It is common for political science majors to enter into government jobs that can be in local offices working as a city planner all the way up to working in the CIA as part of their intelligence team. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 50% of political science degree holders work in federal government positions.

There is also the ability to work in an advocacy on behalf of a specific cause of a person or a community. Having a solid background in government policies will be extremely helpful in this position. Advocacy is a good introductory field to enter into if you are fresh out of school and are looking to get your feet wet in the political science field.

Law Careers

It’s not unheard of for people to earn both law and political science degrees. You’d be surprised at how interwoven the two fields actually are. You will have an understanding of the government and political ideas, plus the added benefit of knowing how these things play into the legal system. It is possible to work as a consumer advocate, judge or district attorney if the right educational credentials are held.

Journalism Occupations

If you have a special interest in film, television, radio and other media outlets, you can pursue a profession as a journalist. You may be able to report on both domestic and international political policies, climate, elections and a number of other topics that are in your knowledge wheelhouse. If you have the right skill set, you may work as a reporter on a news network, write for a newspaper, magazine or politically inclined website. Radio is also a popular medium for journalists if you’d rather be a voice over the airwaves.

Teaching Positions

Of course, you will have the option to teach at high school or university levels if you’d like. You will have a ton of information floating around in your gray matter that will allow you to teach history, social studies, government and political science classes. Most schools required you to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree plus a teaching certificate in order to write you name on a classroom chalkboard.

Movies to Watch and Books to Read for Political Science Students

We bet that you like to get your hands on anything and everything that has to do with politics and we can’t say that we blame you. Did you know that you can use books and movies that are not part of your syllabus to learn about political science? Yep, you totally can. We even found a list of books and movies that a political science professor suggests to his students in order to expand their horizons.

Here are a few of his suggestions. Make a list to take with you to Barnes and Noble for some late night reading!

  • American Grace by Putnam and Campbell: This book focuses on a survey of the role of religion and politics in American Life
  • Red State Blue State by Gelman, Park, Bafumi and Shor: A look at what makes people vote the way they do. It also discusses why some states are considered red states and why some are considered blue states
  • Nixonland by Rick Perlstein: A series of reflections is provided in this book about how politics helped and hindered American society
  • The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John Mearsheimer: This is a super honest book that gives a rare insight into politics by a provocative scholar
  • The Party Decades by Cohen, Karol, Noel and Zaller: A detailed look at the factors behind presidents being elected. We find out who does it and why

Funny Political Science Facts You’ll Learn in School

Sure, there will be a lot to learn during the process of earning your political science degree, but how much of it is entertaining and will provide you with a giggle or two? Seeing as you have likely not entered into your poli-sci classes yet, we are going to tell you some funny facts that you will learn once you get started.

Underwear May Be a Predictor of Economic Recovery

Before you start laughing, just hear us out! Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, used to use the Men’s Underwear Index as an indicator when trying to figure out when economic slumps would end. So, basically what this means is that the nicer your underpants are the better the economy is. This makes sense actually, especially when you consider how long some of us hang on to underwear that has long since passed its shelf life.

Short Skirts Also Point to a Good Economy

There is a thing called the Hemline Index that was whipped up by economist, George Taylor back in 1926. He noted a connection between the hemlines of the dresses and skirts of women were indicative of rises in stock prices. If we look back throughout history and compare the economy to fashion, how spot on do you think his Index would be? Well, if the long dresses of 1930’s and the short skirts of the 1960’s are used as benchmarks, we’d wager that there really was something to it.

Left Handed Leaders

Apparently, 6 out of the last 12 Presidents of the United States were left handed and rather successful politicians. According to scientist, Amar Klar, being left handed often means that they “have a wider scope of thinking” and notes that there is a really large amount of left handed Nobel Prize winners too, which definitely gives the suggestion some weight.

Famous Political Science Grads

This is our favorite part of our articles! We think it’s super interesting to find out facts about people in various degree fields or careers. We find it even more interesting when it’s someone that we know a little bit about already and are able to learn something new about them. That’s kind of our goal now. We are going to tell you about some people that you have likely heard of a time or two, but you may not know that they hold political science degrees.

Arianna Huffington – Political Scientist, Journalist

There is a reason her name rings a bell and if you guessed that she has some connection to the online news website The Huffington Post then you’d be correct. Arianna Huffington earned degrees in economics and political science at the University of Cambridge. She began her career as a conservative commentator, later switched to liberal politics and started The Huffington Post in 2005. She has written over a dozen books that span topics from feminism to politics.

John Oliver – Political Scientist, Radio Personality, Writer, Actor, Comedian, Television Personality

If you are unaware of who funnyman, John Oliver is, we suggest that you tune into HBO on Sunday nights to watch his show, Last Week Tonight. Oliver earned his political science stripes at Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge where he also fine tuned his comedic timing with the Cambridge Footlights comedy troupe. In 2008 he made his debut on the hilarious comedy show with a political influence, The Daily Show as the show’s “senior British correspondent.”

David Axelrod – Political Scientist

You more than likely know who David Axelrod is already, especially if you followed the 2008 election of current U.S. President Barack Obama. This political guru majored in political science at the University of Chicago. Axelrod is credited with being the mastermind behind the campaign strategy that landed Obama into the White House and changed the game of politics forever. He was also a key team member when Paul Simon won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1984 and his client lists reads like a “who’s who’s” of the political world. He has previously worked with Bill and Hillary Clinton, which leads us to wonder if he will be by her side during her run for POTUS in the next election.

Grab the Popcorn…

We are going to give you a break from all the reading that we’ve made you do up until this point. So, grab a snack and kick up your feet because it’s movie time!

We have a short and sweet little video for you today from a student that is working towards earning a degree in political science. The student in the video gives an informative interview about her experience as a student in the poli-sci field. Give it a quick watch below or click here if you’d like to head over to YouTube instead.

Sources and Recommended Reading

We know that we covered a lot of ground today, so we thought you might want to see where some of our ideas came from for future reading. Here are the great sources of information that were used today, feel free to click away.

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