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Political Science

What can the student do with a degree in Political Science?

Graduates with liberal arts degrees commonly seek and find employment in an enormous variety of areas. Indeed, in recent years, corporations, for example, have found such graduates increasingly appealing. We address here, however, students who, upon graduation with a degree in political science, would like employment in some field which allows them to put to use the knowledge of politics which they have acquired; i.e., in a field which is somehow related to politics. The student or prospective student is encouraged to contact any member of the Department to discuss in greater detail the career choices below.

The Federal Government:

The U.S. Government is too large and diverse for many generalizations regarding employment for the recent graduate with a BA in political science. Some examples, though, of typical positions are: junior aide on the staff of a congressional committee or in the office of a member of Congress; analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the State Department, or other agencies in the Executive Branch; e.g., civilian employees of the Defense Department. In short, a political science graduate may potentially find employment in virtually any agency or branch of the federal government. The student is best advised to narrow this wide universe of possibilities by determining what subjects or types of positions are of greatest interest: international or domestic politics, legislative work, agricultural policy, public administration, etc.

State and Local Government:

State governments are, in some ways, like the Federal Government in microcosm, in scale and scope and, therefore, in the number of possible employment opportunities. On the other hand, for some years now, there has been significantly greater employment growth at the state level nationwide than there has been at the federal level. As the latter devolves more and more tasks and programs to the former, so there must be more people to implement those tasks and programs. The Department participates in the Legislative Internship Program, whereby juniors and seniors spend a winter term in Olympia working for the state legislature. This has proven to be an invaluable opportunity for those who might be interested in state government.

Interest Groups and Associations:

Over the past thirty years or so, there has been a significant increase in interest groups and interest group activity. Since there is such a wide variation among these organizations, it is almost impossible to generalize as to what sort of educational preparation is best for the political science major. Still, a few comments might be made: The student interested in such work should be acquainted with the structure and functions of federal and state government agencies, legislative process, political parties and interest group activity, and political economy. It would be useful as well to have gained some work experience through an internship with a government agency, Congress, a state legislature or a lobbying organization.

Journalism:

Students interested in careers in political journalism are advised to consult with faculty of CWU's Department of Communication and to consider a double major in political science and print journalism in communication.

The Legal Profession:

The United States has six percent of the world's population yet almost seventy percent of the world's population with law degrees. It seems there is always room for more, though. It might be noted that not everyone who graduates from law school and passes the bar exam becomes a practicing lawyer: a substantial number become salaried employees of corporations, labor unions, interest groups, and government at all levels. And, in such a litigious society, there is much to be said for some knowledge of the law if one wishes a career in the political area. Students who intend to pursue such post-graduate activity should seek the advice of Professor Jacobs, who is our pre-law adviser.

Other Graduate Study:

That is, other than law school as mentioned above. Graduates with a BA in political science may very well want to consider the possibility of continuing study in that field. A master's degree in political science allows the individual to concentrate on one or two subfields of political science, generally requires another one and a half or two years of study, and opens a number of additional doors to employment opportunities.