Unlike engineering, education, accounting, management, nursing, or other undergraduate professional degrees, there is no clear career path for you to take once you’ve earned a political science degree.
Traditionally, the single biggest post-graduation destination for political science majors is law school. Many also think that with a political science degree, you are destined to pursue a career as a politician. So, two careers paths…that’s it?
The truth is, believe it or not, that not every political science major ends up becoming a politician or a lawyer, and many of them find fulfilling employment. So what exactly can you do with this degree? Where will you find work?
The short answer to these questions is that there are many, many things you can do with this degree. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve outlined the main things you can do after graduation:
• Get a graduate degree (in a field such as political science, business administration, international relations, and others)
• Get a professional degree (such as law, education, journalism)
• Find work in a career directly related to your degree
• Find work in a career that makes use of the skills you’ve gained, but isn’t related to political science
While graduate and professional programs are great options, they are also beyond the scope of this page. Instead, our goal is to show you what careers (related to your degree or not) that you can pursue, and why. Spoiler Alert!! You can pursue a lot of careers...because of the skills you gain.
Political Science is the study of politics; the nature, causes, and results of collective decisions and actions taken by groups of people embedded in the cultures and institutions that structure power and authority on local, regional and federal levels.
As a political science student, you’ll use the interpretive, historical, case study and comparative methods to examine such aspects of politics as:
• Relations between nation-states
• Historical political structures, such as ancient Greece
• Relations between the state and society
• The nature of power and authority
• The nature of collective decision making, from small groups to global governance
• Political motives and behaviours, ranging from self-interested to altruistic
• The impact of such things as interest groups, political parties, social structures and other societal organizations
As a result of this coursework, a degree in political science can provide you with a set of employable skills that is specific to the subject matter. These skills apply to careers that are directly related to your degree. They include:
• An understanding of the forces that shape international relations, politics and society at large
• Analytical skills with regards to political issues
• Ability to develop and present organized, structured, persuasive and evidence-based arguments
• Ability to understand the impact of political decisions
• Ability to spot political and policy trends
• Greater ability to predict political outcomes
The following occupations are directly related to the field-specific skills that a degree in political science can offer you (some may require additional training, experience and education):
Unlike economics or some other arts degrees, not as many employers include "Political science majors only" or "Political science majors preferred" on their job postings.
However, in terms of leveraging your political science degree into a job outside of the field, it’s not about the type of degree you have, but the skills you’ve gained while earning it.
Because of the transferrable skills a political science program can teach you, you’ll make a competent employee in almost any industry. And after all, to many employers, the skill set you bring to the table is much more important than the specific field your degree is in.
So, while a political science degree may not get you a job in one of these fields by virtue of its title, it does provide you with a skill set that makes you a valuable asset for any organization.
Be aware, however, that in a cover letter or an interview, you should be prepared to explain that, by outlining how your skills are a great fit for the organization.
Transferrable skills you can gain include:
• Written an verbal communications skills
• Qualitative researching abilities
• Time management skills
• Ability to operate within strict timelines
• Ability to think critically
• Ability to recognize quality information
Not interested in a career that’s directly related to your political science degree? That’s okay, because of the transferrable skills you’re able to gain as a result of your studies, you have plenty of career options, including:
Please Note: Some of the above careers require additional training, education and/or experience. To find out more about the specific education and training requirements of each career, click on their links above.
If you’re looking for work directly related to your degree, try looking for administrative or decision-making roles in the following areas:
• Borders and immigration
• Regional, federal or international law making and enforcement
• Social policy
• Municipal, regional or federal government
• Non-governmental organizations (NGO's)
• Special interest groups (such as political parties and lobbyist groups)
• Democratic representation
• International policy
• National security
As we mentioned previously, many political science graduates that choose to look for work outside of the field often find roles in the following areas:
• Teaching at the primary and secondary level
• Teaching at the post-secondary level
• Public and private research
• Private industry
• Print and online media
• Banking and finance
Whether you're a political science student looking for a job to help you pay for school, or a graduate looking for an entry or mid-level job, our job board has opportunities directly and indirectly related to your degree.
The salary you could earn as a political science graduate first entering the workforce can vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):
• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)
• The industry in which you find work
• The type of job you have, and your level of responsibility
• The size and type of your employer
• The region in which you work
• Other work experience you may have accrued
• Other skills you may have
Political Science Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $43,468 CAD* is the average salary earned by Social Science graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008.
*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Social Science, not specifically for political science graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.
If you’re a political science major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to political science students, arts students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.
To find out more about careers directly related to your political science degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.