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Political Science Degree

The American Political Science Association defines political science as “the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior.” In a modern world where government and politics have such a strong influence on societies, studying political science paves the way for acquiring the knowledge required in understanding the inner workings of political parties and powers. Some would even go so far as to say that political science is simply the study of power.

As an academic option, political science programs are a popular choice for pre-law courses. Some schools even have a “Political Science, Pre-Law” track or option especially for those interested in pursuing law school.

Getting a Political Science Degree

Requirements

Some political science degree programs have a grade requirement, either from the entrance or standard exam, from previous courses taken in secondary school or sometimes even both. High marks in subjects such as social studies may be a good boost to an application. Various leadership experiences and letters of recommendation may also be taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay in addition to an admissions interview.

For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.

Coursework

Degree programs in political science often cover politics and policy, governments, international relations, research, political thought, constitutions, political economy, comparative politics and other specialized topics on politics. Most courses will be in the form of lectures and seminars, and assessment will likely be in the form of written work and participation.

In the latter years of the program, students may be required to submit a dissertation involving extensive research to complete the degree.

Specializations

Most universities provide specialization options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Availability of specializations would also depend on the offerings of each university.

Below is a short list of political science specializations offered by different institutions:

Accreditation and certification

The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.

Graduates of political science degree programs can end up in different professional positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that political science graduates must obtain to be able to find a position in the field.

Timeframe and Further Studies

A bachelor’s degree in political science can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located.

There are also various degrees available for political science graduates at the graduate level. Master’s programs are available for those looking to deepen their knowledge of the field. Acceptance into these programs normally depends on the applicant’s education (level and grades) and professional experience. Master’s programs usually take one to two years to complete.

Another option for further studies as previously mentioned is going on to study law. For more information on law degree programs, please see StudyLink’s Law Degree Guide.

Skills and Career Prospects

Graduates of political science programs who are interested in pursuing jobs directly related to their degree can be employed by politicians or political parties, government agencies, and international agencies in various positions such as campaign worker, executive assistant, foreign service worker, public relations officer or consultant, and social researcher. Alternatively, some political science graduates are present in jobs in human resources, commercial businesses, marketing and finance.

Political science graduates will find that transferable skills gained throughout the degree program can be applied in pursuing their career paths. These include decision-making, problem solving, analytical thinking, research skills and oral and written communication.

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