Political Science Degree: The Study of the State

Political science is a field devoted to government process, ideologies and philosophy. An online political science degree is a great option for students interested in political and cultural affairs. Degree programs offer a broad learning basis that can be applied to various career paths outside of the political sector.

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Political Science Degree Information

Political science majors are an option at most liberal arts colleges or universities and political science courses can also be taken online. Political science degrees prepare students for graduate work in political science, further education in other fields such as law, or a career in politics.

Study Options

Students can start with an Associate of Arts degree in political science either live or online. This two-year degree gives the student basic grounding in political theory and prepares them for a four-year bachelor's program in political science. The Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is a four-year degree that will encompass a variety of political science courses and will often include courses in philosophy, sociology and history as well.

Advanced Degrees

Political Science B.A's may go on to pursue a master's degree or a doctoral degree in political science. In order to teach and publish political science at the university level a Ph.D. in political science will usually be required. Political Science Ph.D.s will focus on one particular discipline of political science, such as international relations, public administration or comparative politics.

Doctoral Programs

Earning a doctorate in political science takes years of hard work and research. Students will become experts in their sub-field of political science and be expected to produce original research in that field. These degrees usually take four or five years to complete, although the dissertation may take even longer. Depending on the discipline, political science Ph.D.s may be called upon to analyze complex political situations in sensitive parts of the world, so it is vital that they understand their material completely.

Other Graduate Options

Many of those who obtain a bachelor's or master's degree in political science who do not proceed to the doctorate will pursue a law degree. These three-year degrees prepare the student for a career as a lawyer, politician or in another law-related profession. Political science graduates may also pursue doctoral training in another social science such as history, philosophy or sociology.

Choosing A Degree

Politics is of constant importance in today's world and every newspaper and television news broadcast is full of information about political happenings all over the globe. Individuals who take an interest in world affairs and are curious about their inner workings may be well served by a degree in political science. Students who are interested in a future career in the social science area but are not sure where exactly their career path may lead can start with an associate's or bachelor's program in political science and move forward from there.

Career Opportunities

Individuals with B.A.s in political science can go on to become lawyers, government employees or politicians themselves. Some students interested in working for local or state governments may first wish to earn a master's degree in a political science discipline such as public administration or urban planning. Ph.D.s in political science can be university professors, political analysts and even occupy high-ranking positions in the military.

Earning Potential

Political scientists, especially those at the doctoral level, can earn highly competitive salaries. In 2006, the median annual income for political scientists was $90,140. Some lawyers and politicians with political science degrees earn six figure salaries or more.

Getting Your Degree Online

Online associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees in political science are available, as well as master's degrees and certifications. An online degree from an accredited online university can qualify a student for political science jobs or further education just as an offline degree can. Online courses are a great option for continuing education students who do not have the time or resources for a traditional curriculum. A top distance learning program can give a student the political science background he or she needs for a career in law, politics or even other social sciences.

Getting Your Degree Offline

A political science degree from a top college or university is often the starting point for a great many career paths. Attending a traditional college or university for your political science track may offer the best opportunities to meet others in your field and make the connections you need to move to the highest levels in your chosen career. A traditional college curriculum may also provide better opportunities for political science fieldwork and mentoring. Political science bachelor's programs at brick-and-mortar colleges and universities can be completed in four years or even less in some cases and can provide a quality education that the student will carry with him or her wherever his or her career goals may lead.

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Political Science Degree FAQs

What Can I Do with an Online Political Science Degree?

As expected, a large portion of political science graduates go on to rewarding careers in government service. Some become politicians, while others become campaign consultants, speechwriters and various other support staff.

Other graduates pursue a career in academia as college professors or high school teachers. Some decide to use their political science degrees as a basis for continuing education, eventually becoming lawyers, businesspersons and entrepreneurs.

What Topics of Study Are Covered in an Online Political Science Degree Program?

Earning a political science degree demands a commitment to reading, research and current events. Many courses require written essays and public speaking assignments. Class topics include history of government, philosophy, economics, government law, international affairs and more. Upper level degree programs feature topics such as regulatory policy, nonprofit law and management.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn With an Online Degree in Political Science?

Students earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science can immediately enter the job force as administrative assistants or paralegals. Such positions tend to earn approximately $30,000 annually. Many students go on to pursue graduate degrees in political science, which opens to door to considerably higher earning potential.

The median annual income for all political scientists is $90,140. Many government officials and lawyers command salaries much higher than the median.

Political Science Online Degree Programs

Political science degree programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. An Associate of Arts in Political Science is a foundation in political theory and often provides seamless integration into a four-year program. A Bachelor of Arts in Political Science covers a broad range of political topics and traditionally requires four years of study.

Graduate level political science degrees are required to teach and publish research on the subject. Master's and doctoral degree programs tend to focus on a particular area of political science, such as public administration or international relations.

Political Science Student Guide

Political science is the science of how politics work. Students analyze political systems and political behavior. Aspects of political science include political theory, international relations, comparative politics and public administration.

Political Science Books

In order to appreciate political science, students will need to learn the history of politics and of the different political systems that govern our world. To do this will require copious reading on the subject. Some political science books the student may wish to start with include Political Science: An Introduction by Michael Roskin, Robert L. Cord, James A. Medeiros and Walter S. Jones, Understanding the Political World: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science by James N. Danziger and ìTheory and Methods in Political Science by David Marsh and Gerry Stoker. Other books will be recommended as part of your political science curriculum and can be found at your school's library or bookstore. Additional political science books may be located through the United Nations publication site (Unp.UN.org).

Political Science Articles And Databases

The American Political Science Association's resources section provides links to professional journals and publications in each different sub-field of political science including comparative politics, women and politics, international politics and political theory. Within these journals are many articles that students can use as reference material for developing effective political science research papers.

Online Political Science Journals

Developing and understanding theories of political science will require reading and research in the various journals compiled on political science ideas. Some open access journals in political science include American Diplomacy, The Research Journal of International Studies and The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution. Information about these and other political science journals can be found online at the Directory of Open Access Journals at Doaj.org.

Other Political Science Research Tools

The American Political Science Association website has a lot of useful political science information. On top of access to political science journals and articles, the APSA website has information about political science workshops, conferences, jobs, grant opportunities, research in progress and other useful political science related data.

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