Political science studies the dynamics of politics and government in the United States and around the world. Its origins go back as far as the first large-scale human civilizations. From its earliest roots to its place in contemporary universities, political science has always examined questions about the nature of government, the nature of political change, and the patterns and tendencies that can be found in political life.
During the 20th century, political scientists increasingly focused their attention on the interactions between states and citizens, private economic entities, non-governmental organizations, and other states in the global community. American political science now divides itself into five major sub-fields:
- Political theory
- American politics
- Comparative politics
- International relations Public policy
In recent years, increasing awareness of the interconnected nature of global human activity has highlighted the importance of comparative and international approaches to the study of politics. Global capital flows, international labor migration, and conflict between states and non-state entities are now key areas of study for contemporary political science.
As a political science major, you will build general skills that will be vitally important, no matter where life takes you:
- Understanding complex problems
- Finding relevant data
- Testing hypotheses
- Interpreting information
- Understanding complex texts and arguments
- Understanding problems from a variety of perspectives
- Planning and problem solving
- Transformation of data into useful information
- Presentation of ideas orally and in writing
- Effective argumentation
- Negotiation and resolution of conflicts
The specific skills that you will develop as a political science major are especially critical for career possibilities such as these:
A major in political science is the best preparation for students interested in applying to law school. Law schools want their students to arrive being able to think critically, conduct research, analyze complex texts, and argue effectively. Future lawyers also require a thorough understanding of government institutions and the dynamics of politics. For all of these reasons, political science is the most popular pre-law major.
A wide variety of career opportunities can be found at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Political science majors found successful careers in public administration, policy analysis, legislative coordination, and intergovernmental relations.
Voluntary organizations play an increasingly important role in political life. Interest groups supporting particular political agendas, as well as nongovernmental organizations focused on public policy development, hire political science majors at the local, state, and national levels.
Future journalists require strong communication skills, as well as thorough understanding of public events and institutions. A major in political science can provide you with both.
Campaigns and Polling
Political parties and individual candidates require campaign staff with the skills political science has to offer: data analysis, problem solving, communication, and knowledge of political dynamics. Strong statistical skills, in addition to knowledge of political dynamics, can provide the basis for a career in opinion polling with independent agencies or political campaigns.