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What Jobs Does a Political Science Master's Degree Qualify You For?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a master's degree in political science. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information.

What Do Political Science Professionals Do?

Political science master's degree programs provide the research and international policy skills necessary to qualify for jobs in the policymaking arena and government legislatures. Graduates may pursue professional careers in academia or business in both the private and public sectors. As a secondary or postsecondary teacher of government and politics, you would be responsible for creating lesson plans, evaluating students' performance and grading students' tests and assignments. As a high school teacher, you may be required to take on additional duties at the school, such as supervising a student organization. You'll also need to fulfill your state's licensure and certification requirements. At the post-secondary level, you may collaborate in research projects with other professors and students, and you could publish your own research related to political science. As a political scientist you would focus your career on research, using your findings to develop theories, evaluate political systems and forecast trends.

Here is an overview of possible career choices:

High School Teacher Political Science College Professor Political Scientist
Degree Required Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree or Ph.D. Master's Degree or Ph.D.
Key Skills Public speaking, teaching, lesson preparation Public speaking, teaching, research Research, governmental analysis
Licensure State-issued license N/A N/A
Job Outlook (2018-28) 4%* 8%* 5%*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $60,320* $83,370* $117,570*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Master's Degree Programs Are Available in Political Science?

Master's degree programs in political science can lead to either a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science. If you are planning to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), go to law school or enter a career in quantitative research, the Master of Arts may be right for you. In a Master of Arts program, you will research questions and determine why people vote the way they do and what impact a specific policy will have on a country. In some programs, you may focus your studies in one area, such as comparing political systems of different nations or on the American political system. This program will require a thesis to obtain the degree

A Master of Science in Political Science is different from the M.A. and not intended to prepare you for further study or a career in academia. Most M.S. in Political Science programs provide you with the politics, policy and research skills necessary to enter into a related career. Many M.S. programs do not require a thesis.

What Are Some Other Career Options?

Many career paths are available with a master's degree in political science. If you are interested in researching and analyzing the financial and societal impact of laws and regulations, you could work as a legislative or policy analyst. Analysts use quantitative and qualitative research skills to provide in-depth reports on U.S. and international policy. Analyst jobs can be found in non-profit organizations, state and federal legislative offices, and government agencies.

A master's in political science is preparation for a career in law. If you want to become a lawyer, you can continue your studies after graduation and obtain a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Some schools will allow you to enroll in a dual M.A./J.D. program, earning both degrees at once. Lawyers work as legislators, lobbyists and public defenders. After law school, you will have to pass a bar exam and become licensed before practicing law.

What Salary Could I Earn with a Political Science Master's Degree?

Your salary is going to depend on your chosen career path and the location of your job. In 2018, a college political science teacher earned an average of $99,480 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and high school teachers earned an average of $64,340 annually. All types of political scientists reported an average annual wage of $115,300 per year in 2018.

Lawyer's salaries are highly variable and based on where you work and who you work for. The District of Columbia has the highest salaries for lawyers in 2018, according to the BLS, with an average annual salary of $192,530. In 2018, the industry with the top paying wages for lawyers was the cable and other subscription programming industry. Lawyers in this industry had an average pay of $234,310 annually. In contrast, lawyers working in state government had an average of $92,270 annually.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some careers related to that of political scientists and educators include economists, sociologists, anthropologists and archaeologists. With a master's degree or Ph.D. in economics, economists study and present data on trends within the production and distribution of goods and wealth in a society. Sociologists have a master's or doctoral degree in sociology and study the the effects of social institutions and culture on social behavior. Anthropologists and archaeologists use their expertise to study living and dead cultures of civilizations around the world. These professionals need to have a master's or doctoral degree in their respective fields.