A political science major is one of the most popular undergrad degree programs at most American colleges and universities. It is a great foundational major to give you applicable skills in many areas.
People who pursue a political science major often go on to become political scientists, but they may also enter a political office, the general public sector, or even pursue academia in subfields like political theory.
Others may go on to law school and become lawyers and/or even run for elected office. Some political science graduates even go beyond anything related to politics and pursue careers in journalism, public relations, and marketing.
What is Political Science?
Political science is an academic social science dating all the way back to Ancient Greece. By definition, it is the study of the state, including the government, politics, and the political process and the effect it has on society overall.
In the United States, it is split into four distinct but overlapping components: International relations, comparative politics, American government, and political theory.
Most political science undergraduate majors will require students to choose one of those four areas as an area of concentration or specialization. That said, the major will likely have requirements in at least three if not all four areas.
Why Major in Political Science?
Most colleges and universities offer solid degree programs in political science. Note that some colleges have different names for their political science majors. Some may call the major Government, Politics, or Government and Politics. At the end of the day, it’s the same discipline as political science.
If you’re not exactly sure what you want to study but you’re interested in politics, choosing a political science degree is a great way to get a sense for your interests. It’s a field that touches on a lot of other related academic fields like philosophy and history. It’s really at the core of any liberal arts education.
The major will help you develop solid critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills that you can apply to other areas of your college education. Finally, it will help you gain a solid understanding of politics on the federal, state, and local levels.
If you want to get a well-rounded, academic education that can lead to many career opportunities, you should consider majoring in political science.
One of the most interesting aspects of majoring in political science is that you can learn about American politics and government while you also learn about politics all over the world. Comparative government is a particularly interesting field that allows political science students to become experts in political systems in other countries.
You can even earn your degree online by majoring in political science through an online degree program.
Top Colleges for Political Science Majors
Again, most colleges and universities offer political science majors at the undergrad level and it’s usually one of the most popular majors. Some schools are known for their particularly strong programs, though. Read on to find out where you can find the top political science majors in the US.
Located in the nation’s capital, Georgetown is definitely known for having one of the top political science majors in the country. The two different political science major options are called “Government” and “Political Economy.” As previously mentioned, the Government major includes what any typical political science major includes. In addition to these undergrad majors, the university also offers bachelor of arts and master’s degrees in “American Government and Democracy and Governance.”
New York, NY
This Ivy League political science program focuses on issues of power and governance, from the shores of Manhattan to the global stage. With the UN just a few miles away, the program has a strong concentration in international relations, though it focuses on all four areas of the discipline.
Also located in our nation’s capital and named after our nation’s first president, George Washington University has an excellent undergrad major in political science, offering over 100 different classes. The program requires juniors and seniors to do independent research studies and offers many opportunities for study abroad.
This North Carolina top-notch private research university offers a top political science major that promises a solid political and critical foundation. The 10-course major requires three courses in a chosen field of study (of the four political science areas) plus a capstone research project.
The political science major just outside of Chicago at Northwestern University is one of the best programs at this top private research university. Housed in the university’s college of arts and sciences, the political science major includes 12 major courses, two of which can be taken during a study-abroad semester. Excellent undergraduate students may have the opportunity to enroll in a graduate-level seminar course in their junior or senior year.
What Can You Do With a Political Science Degree?
Graduates from undergraduate bachelor’s degree programs in political science can go on to pursue many different career options. There really is no linear path for a political science grad.
You can put your learned, applicable skills to the test in so many different ways. Below is a shortlist of some of the most common professional fields for graduates of political science majors:
- Political Scientist/Analyst/Consultant
- Political Campaigner
- Research Analyst
- Foreign Service Officer
- Political Journalist
- Public Relations Professional
- Business Professional
- Policy Maker/Policy Expert
- Public Administrator
- Local Government Official
Conclusion: Influence Public Opinion With Political Science
So, let’s go back to our original question: Why major in political science? The reasons are endless but the main reason has everything to do with the breadth of a degree in political science.
As a social science, political science incorporates so many other courses offered in social sciences and humanities and is a great way to explore your interests as an undergrad. Then, based on what you learn, you can specialize and launch a career that meets your goals.