If you're considering a career in politics or government, perhaps you're wondering whether it would be worthwhile to pursue a bachelor's degree in political science. Is this degree a necessary credential for aspiring politicians? Is a bachelor's degree sufficient to qualify you for a lucrative job in government, or would you need to pursue a graduate degree? How much do political scientists earn, and what is the future employment outlook for this occupation? Read on for an in-depth look at the situations in which a degree in political sciences might or might not be worth pursuing.
Is a Political Sciences Degree Necessary for Politicians?
A degree in political theory has been beneficial for some noteworthy politicians, but there are alternative major courses of study that can prepare aspiring leaders for successful political careers.
Prominent American Politicians Who Majored in Political Sciences
Former US President Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science. His specialization within the subject was international relations. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a prominent US political figure who has filled multiple roles including presidential nominee, former US Secretary of State, former Senator and former First Lady of the United States. She graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in political science. She also holds a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School.
Prominent American Politicians Who Majored in Other Disciplines
Politicians who pursued other majors include President Donald Trump, who graduated from the Wharton School of Finance with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics; former US President Bill Clinton, who studied international affairs as an undergraduate and later graduated from law school at Yale; and former US President George W. Bush, who majored in history at Yale University. He later went on to earn his master's degree in business administration from Harvard's highly respected school of business.
Clearly, if you want to hold a political office in the United States, you do need an undergraduate degree in some specialization; it doesn't have to specifically be a degree in political sciences. An alternate course of study would give you a strong foundation for pursuing a political career while also giving you other options for employment outside of a career in politics or government. Undergraduate degrees in other specializations such as international affairs or economics are likely to be more versatile.
What You Need to Know About Political Scientist Careers
The federal government of the United States employs the majority of political scientists currently working in the nation. While these workers earn comfortable salaries — the median annual salary for this occupation was $114,290 as of 2016 — the future employment outlook for professionals in this line of work is bleak. Experts at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics have projected declining employment and increased competition for jobs in this sector through at least the year 2024.
To become a political scientist employed by US government, your entry-level academic credential would be a master's degree. You'd be in competition for jobs with candidates holding doctoral degrees in the field. Bottom line, this is a line of work where you'd have to invest heavily in your education and gamble on whether a viable job will actually materialize for you. It's a risky proposition.
The Final Verdict: Is It Worthwhile to Get a Degree in Political Sciences?
If you're determined to pursue a degree in political theory because it's the field you passionately want to work in, the answer to this question may be yes; if so, be aware that your employment opportunities will be most promising if you go on to pursue a graduate degree. If you are disinterested in pursuing a graduate degree, this decision requires careful consideration. Without a graduate degree, you might need to seek work in an unrelated field after graduation; therefore this specialization might not be the best choice of majors for you. You're the only one who can ultimately answer the question of whether it's worth it to you to obtain a degree in political sciences; we hope this information is helpful to you in formulating your answer as you consider your options.