How To Become a Political Scientist

Political scientists typically need to complete either a master’s or Ph. D. program to enter the occupation. Applicants to a graduate program should have completed undergraduate courses in political science, writing, and statistics.

A bachelor’s degree in political science, international relations, public policy, history, economics, or a related field is required to work as a political scientist. Because your degree will help determine your career path, you should choose your exact field of study based on your unique interests. You will have more career options with additional credentials, especially in the academic field, such as a master’s or doctorate in political science. You can continue your political science research while instructing the subject to future generations of political science students if you have an advanced degree and professional experience.

Become a Political Scientist in 2021? Salary, Jobs, Education

What does a political scientist do?

Depending on their place of employment, a political scientist can hold a variety of positions. Several duties that are typical in a career in political science include:

Political scientists typically focus their research and analyses in one of the five main subfields of political science, and each subfield of political science may have different job responsibilities:

National politics

The study of American politics, also known as national politics, is focused on the country’s political systems. The processes, effects, and outcomes of national institutions, state and local governments, and the representative processes that make up each level of these political systems are typically studied and analyzed by political scientists who concentrate in this area of the field.

Comparative politics

Comparative political science specialists conduct studies to compare political systems outside of the U S. and across different nations. This branch of political science focuses on how various governing institutions conduct their political affairs.

Public policy

Political scientists can choose to concentrate on how public policies and laws are developed, integrated, and how they affect community systems, both in the U S. and abroad. To comprehend how public policy relates to governmental systems, you can study comparative politics or international relations in addition to your public policy concentration.

Political theory

Political scientists who study political theories will conduct research and analysis on political ideologies, such as justice, equality, and rights, as well as other elements of political systems that have evolved over extended periods of time.

International relations

Political scientists study and examine the political processes and relationships between countries. This entails data analysis and research on how diplomacy, international law, military conflict, and conflict resolutions work in various countries.

What is a political scientist?

In the study of laws and policies that have an impact on governmental structures, people’s lives, and the economy, a political scientist assumes the roles of a researcher, forecaster, and analyst. Political scientists examine the beginnings, development, and functioning of governments and political systems. They evaluate how political trends and current events shape the structures of various governments, as well as their policies and laws, using their studies of various political ideas.

How to become a political scientist

Political science has many facets, and as you finish your education, you might realize that you prefer one aspect of the field to another. But the most typical route you’ll need to take to start a career in political science is outlined in the following steps:

1. Earn your bachelors degree

The majority of political scientists hold doctoral and master’s degrees, but you’ll start with a bachelor’s. You must finish a political science educational program to be eligible for admission to graduate school. The political science fundamentals you’ll need for graduate school are covered in your bachelor’s program, and you can also gain from taking courses in statistics, writing, and economics.

2. Participate in an internship

During your undergraduate studies, look for opportunities to gain experience with political science-related applications. Examples of excellent ways to gain practical experience in the field and develop a portfolio of work that can improve your employment prospects as you finish your graduate degree include internships in positions with nonprofit organizations, as campaign assistants, research assistants, or in congressional and legislative offices.

3. Complete your graduate degree

You’ll need to have a master’s degree in a political science-related field. Public administration, international relations, public policy, and public affairs are just a few of the specializations in political science that many political scientists have master’s degrees in.

At the graduate level, you can select a particular concentration. A political science masters program typically combines a number of areas. Graduate-level coursework may cover a variety of subjects, such as research methods, program assessment and evaluation, statistics, and policy development.

4. Gain work experience

Consider paid internships, volunteer work, or an entry-level position as you finish your education to increase your experience. Having this experience can be very beneficial for your career because employers frequently prefer candidates with a proven work history. You will be qualified to work as a political scientist for a variety of organizations once you have earned your master’s degree.

5. Consider a doctorate

Additionally, many political scientists choose to pursue a graduate degree in the subject. Many political science jobs do not require a Ph.D., but if you want to teach political science at the university level, you must have one. D. Political consulting and national government agencies may also offer high-level career opportunities, but a Ph D. is not necessary unless you plan to work in academia to pursue a career as a political scientist.

What is the work environment like for political scientists?

Political scientists typically work a full-time schedule in an office environment, but they occasionally put in extra time to complete assignments and meet deadlines. In addition to working in offices, many political scientists also work in nonprofit organizations, state and local government positions, technical and scientific services, and private businesses and corporations.

Some political scientists with specializations in international relations may journey across the globe to conduct significant research into the current political and economic environment, policy practices, and other global political operations.

What skills do you need to be a political scientist?

Political scientists acquire a variety of hard and soft skills that help them function well in a variety of contexts. To succeed in your career, you should develop the following key skills:

Communication skills

Political scientists frequently use communication skills such as writing, public speaking, information conveying, asking questions, and presenting. As you complete your education and gain work experience, you’ll also improve your persuasive writing and negotiation skills, which are crucial for conducting research, holding interviews, consulting, evaluating, and presenting public policies.

Technical skills

It’s crucial to have computer skills and the ability to perform research and data analysis using spreadsheets, data analysis software, and other technical tools. A career in political science also requires proficiency in online research and basic internet navigation.

Diplomacy skills

When interacting with others in local, national, and international contexts, political scientists must be able to think and act diplomatically. Strong conflict-resolution abilities, the capacity for deliberate thought and action, and the capacity for navigating various professional and social situations are essential skills for a career in political science.

Analytical skills

The ability to conduct research and analyze data are crucial job duties, so if you want to succeed in your career, you’ll need to develop these abilities. Applying quantitative and qualitative research techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret research results and data will require you to have the ability to analyze data and information.

Problem solving

Additionally crucial for your career development are the abilities to resolve conflicts and come up with innovative solutions to issues. Political scientists occasionally need to assess various policies, systems, or procedures in order to find flaws or new solutions that would improve political processes.

In these situations, a political scientist’s capacity for innovative problem-solving and critical analysis of all relevant factors is crucial.


How long does it take to be a political scientist?

120 credits and four years of full-time study are typically required for bachelor’s in political science programs.

Do political scientists get paid well?

Political Scientists made a median salary of $125,350 in 2020. In that year, the top 25 percent earned $157,710, while the bottom 25 percent earned $90,780.

Is it easy to be a political scientist?

Political scientists have intellectually demanding jobs that prioritize a college education. Most jobs require a master’s degree. Nothing less than a Ph.D. is required if teaching at the college and university level is your goal.

Is political science a good career?

Political science is a versatile degree. It can serve as a launching pad for a career in nonprofit work, business, the media, or education. Political science students acquire research, communication, and data analysis skills that are widely applicable in both the public and private sectors.

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