What it Takes to be a Good Political Scientist

Declaring a major in college is one of the most important decisions that you will make. It is something that should be done thoughtfully rather than rushed in to. Some students have clear-cut career goals before they begin their college careers. Other students select a major and career path after being exposed to the wealth of ideas and options floating around a university or college environment. College freshman are typically required to fulfill a series of college curriculum courses. The idea behind college curriculum courses is to give new students a broader understanding and perspective about the role of university education. Most high school students come to college or university with a background in American history and government but they get their first taste and insight into political science at the college level. Majoring in political science requires a genuine interest in political theory as well as good research and writing skills.


Political science is a contemporary discipline whose roots date back to antiquity. Aristotle laid the foundation for political theory. Aristotle’s book on political theory, simply titled Politics, presented the first systematic analysis of the forms of government. The contemporary understanding of democracy owes a large debt to Aristotle and the Greeks. The primary task of politics, in the Greek view, is to answer the question, “how do we live together well?” Aristotle defined human beings as “political animals.” Human beings only flourish when they live in a social and political environment with others.

Science is divided between the natural sciences and the social sciences. Examples of the former include physics, chemistry, and biology. Political science is typically regarded as one of the social sciences along with psychology and sociology. The social sciences, in German universities are referred to as the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). This is useful description of the nature of contemporary political science. Political scientists use a both humanistic and scientific tools and methodologies

Political science studies governments, public policy, the political process, and political behavior. Political science is divided into a number of specific sub-genres. Some are theoretical and others are more empirical/practical oriented. The theoretical topics include political theory, political philosophy, political ideology, and political economy. The empirical/ practical topics focuses on issues such as policy studies, voting behavior, political organizing, labor issues, and international relations. Political science provides a solid undergraduate education in the liberal arts and science.

One of the benefits of a political science degree is that it provides an in depth insight into how the government in United States operates at the local, state, and federal levels. A firm grounding in the intricacies of the American form of government helps the political science student to become an informed citizen better able to understand and interpret contemporary political events.

Career Options

A political science degree is a key that opens to door to a wide spectrum of career choices in the public and private sectors. It is the obvious choice for someone interested in working in politics, government, or international relations. It is also the perfect degree for someone interested in a career devoted to particular causes such as civil rights, the environment, labor relations, and healthcare. Political science graduates are also very attractive to the business and corporate world because of their analytic, problem solving, research and writing skills. International business and organizations offer a wide range of careers and they are interested in bright and analytical students with an understanding of the political and regulatory environment in which business is done.


Some people are interested in running for political office while others are more interested in working behind the scenes in fields such as campaign management, political polling, and political consulting. All of these areas require a thorough knowledge of the American political system and the analytic skills to define a problem and contribute a solution

Government Jobs

According to government agencies, the demand for political science research and job opportunities is growing. The Federal Government is interested in people with expertise in research, policy, foreign relations, immigration, and environmental topics Many political science graduates find positions in the State and Defense Departments, the CIA and NSA, and with international organizations such as the United Nations, and NATO.


Political science is the most common major of individuals who go to law school. A background in political theory provides an excellent resource for someone interested in pursuing a law career. Lawyers work in a large number of fields. Barack Obama earned a political science degree before attending Harvard Law School.


The American Political Science Association

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