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A graduate degree provides students with enhanced skills and knowledge that are in demand from employers across a range of careers and jobs. These skills and knowledge also provide a stepping stone for graduates of the program to better pay, job security, and advancement. For example, a 2015 report from Georgetown University found that “Graduate degrees have provided the best shelter from the effects of the Great Recession. This is especially true for experienced workers with graduate degrees aged 35 to 54, whose unemployment rate was only 3.3 percent at its peak. (It has since fallen back to 3 percent.) Among recent graduate degree holders aged 24 to 34, unemployment rates have hovered around 4 percent.”
An MA in Political Science trains students in the following skills:
Students with a graduate degree in Political Science often find work in the private sector. This includes everything from public relations and advertising, to consulting, to business, to management positions in institutions from hospitals to industry, to advocacy work, and more. The ability to analyze and apply creative thinking to complex processes, to present your arguments effectively, and to “think big” are in demand. In a 2013 survey, the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that employers prioritize applicants who can “think critically,” “innovate,” and be able to “communicate clearly.” These jobs are available at both the international and the domestic level.
Graduates can find work in a wide variety of positions dedicated to improving life for people around the world. Organizations in this category typically work on humanitarian issues, such as medical improvement, social justice, food security, human rights, and peace-building. Non-profits operate throughout the United States as well as throughout the world.
Many of our MA graduates go on to teach. The most likely career choices focus on high school and community college. Graduates of Political Science can teach courses in government, public policy, history, social studies, and international relations.
If you wish to become a university professor then you must obtain a PhD. In fact, Fortune ranked a PhD in Political Science as the 15th best graduate degree for jobs in 2016. But know that a PhD is a major investment of time, money, and energy; it is only for those fully committed to the degree. It normally takes 6 – 7 years to obtain a doctorate.
The ability to conduct research and knowledge of how decision-making processes work are always in demand by government. Graduates of the MA program can find work in the federal government or at the state, local, or municipal levels.
Depending on your interest, you might apply to specific government agencies. If you are interested in international studies, you’ll want to look at the foreign service (the State Department) or another agency that deals in international affairs, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Agency for International Development, the CIA, and so on. If you’re interested in law, the Department of Justice or the FBI are good choices. If economic matters capture your attention, you can look at the Department of Commerce or another government agency that deals with trade, fiscal policy, or public expenditures.
Similar to the private sector, employers in this category look for candidates who know how to conduct research, analyze information, and present their findings in an easily-understood manner. Think tanks and research institutes typically focus on policy relevant work—that is, they want their research to help improve public policy. Some are explicitly partisan (they are unabashedly liberal, conservative, or libertarian) while many are non-partisan (such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution).
Our program emphasizes research, analysis, and writing and presentation skills. Combined with an understanding of the policymaking process, our MA graduates are well-prepared for a career in journalism and media work. This could entail work as a foreign or domestic correspondent, as an editor, or as a researcher. The expansion of online media has created many opportunities for graduates. Newer publications such as Vox, Foreign Affairs, Politico, Slate, Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast coexist alongside older and more traditional publications that have built an online presence, including the New York Times, CNN, and NBC, among many others.
This is for those interested in international affairs. The most obvious choice here is the United Nations and its constituent agencies. The UN is a massive organization, comprised of over 40,000 staff. In addition to its membership-based bodies like the Security Council and the General Assembly, UN agencies cover a wide range of issue-areas, so it is relatively easy to match a job search with your own interests and areas of specialization. Some examples of UN agencies include: United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Programme, World Bank, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, and International Atomic Energy Agency.
Various non-UN organizations cover many other issues, from criminal and legal matters, to economic development and environmental sustainability, to arms control.
There are also several regional organizations, including the African Union, the Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Caribbean Community, the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Union of South American Nations.
Graduate work in Political Science can be a useful stepping stone for those who want to go on to study business (a Master of Business Administration) or law. The skills we develop along with the information we teach serve as effective foundations for these advanced degrees.