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Government Studies

If you like learning about the theory and practice of government, a career in political science, public administration or national security might be a good choice for you. Read on to learn more about career options, educational requirements and earnings for government studies specialists.

Are Government Studies for Me?

Career Overview

A degree program in government studies can provide you with an understanding of the theory and practice of government, the nature of politics, policy making and public administration, as well as foreign policy and government security. A degree in this field may open doors to a number of career opportunities in government agencies, non-profit and non-governmental organizations or consulting firms, as well as in a college or university setting. Some programs offer a concentration in security studies and the chance to learn about national security, foreign policy, terrorism and government intelligence.

Career Options

As a graduate of a government studies program, you may find work as a political scientist or consultant, social scientist, reporter or international trade specialist. Depending on your education and experience, you might also qualify for a position as a research analyst or professor. As a political scientist, you could study political systems and the operational aspects of government structures, conduct research, assess the effects of government policies and predict political trends.

Employment and Salary Information

Employment opportunities and income potential can vary according to your job title, level of education and experience. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2013 that political scientists earned a median annual salary of $100,920. In the same reporting year, the BLS noted that postsecondary political science teachers had a median annual income of $73,760. Employment of political scientists and postsecondary teachers was expected to grow at a faster-than- average rate from 2012-2022.

During the same period, a 14% decline in employment was projected for reporters and correspondents. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $35,600 in May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Government Studies?

Educational Requirements

According to the BLS, entry-level political science positions may be open to candidates with a bachelor's degree. Completion of an undergraduate program may also qualify you for a position as a journalist or correspondent, as well as an entry-level job in homeland security, such as a border patrol agent. However, most political science and college teaching positions require an advanced degree in the field.

Undergraduate Programs

In an undergraduate program, you may study American and comparative politics, political theory and philosophy or international relations. These classes can provide you with a basic understanding of national and international political processes and lay the groundwork for either an entry-level job or an advanced degree.

Graduate Programs

In a graduate program, you'll have the chance to take an in-depth look at the global political economy while pursuing advanced courses or specializations in economics, international law, national security and public policy. You might study the relationship between military and foreign policy and global terrorism, as well as delve into the intricacies of the U.S. Constitution. Doctoral degree programs are research-based courses of study that typically focus on a particular area of government. While master's degree program usually culminate in a written thesis, as a doctoral candidate, you'll be expected to prepare and defend a dissertation.