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Department of Political Science
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Careers in Political Science

Political Science majors enjoy a versatility of skills and a marvelous range of exciting careers. In addition to pursuing a career path, there is information available regarding continuing education in either a Masters or Ph.D. degree field.

Finding a Job in Public Service

Federal Government

  • The Partnership for Public Service maintains Call to Serve and provides a range of information about jobs in the federal government.
  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) manages USAJobs, which has an updated listing of federal job openings.
  • OPM also maintains Student Jobs, and it is designed for students looking for job opportunities with the federal government.
  • Environmental Careers Program (ECP) is a two year intensive program designed to start participants environmental careers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for graduates at al levels.
  • The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) is a program administered by the OPM that offers two year paid fellowships for master's, law, and doctoral-level students.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides information regarding the Professional Development Program and other job opportunities.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency provides fellowship information with the EPA.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides information about the Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups sponsored by the FHWA.

State Government

Each state and most local governments have a human resources or personnel agency or office. You may find websites for these government offices at http://www.statelocalgov.net.

For more information about state employment, visit the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. 

Choosing a Career

Analyze yourself.  Consider your aptitude and preferences.  Do you work best with other people?  Do you work best by yourself?  Are you skillful at organizing?  Do you enjoy research and problem solving?  Consider the characteristics of individual jobs.  Is this a good profession for a loner?  Are there opportunities for professional advancement?

Possible Careers

  • Federal Government - White House advisor, overseas school for military and diplomatic children, Congressional Research Service, budget analyst, CIA, information technology manager, etc.
  • State/Local Government - State Department of natural resources, city planner, labor relations specialist, State Department of Education, Juvenile Justice, etc.
  • Nonprofits - Human Rights Campaign, Institute for Women's Policy Research, National Rifle Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.
  • Law - Consumer advocate, Labor union official, Corporate attorney, Law professor, etc.
  • Business - Corporate public affairs advisor, Advertising firm, political action committee, banker, market research, etc.
  • International - U.S. State Department, Peace Corps volunteer, U.S. Embassy, United Nations, etc.
  • Journalism - Newspaper editor, Local television news, Press officer, trade association newsletter editor, etc.
  • Campaigns and Polling - Campaign manager, issue analyst, Federal Elections Commission, direct mail marketing firm, etc.

We have a variety of our graduates employed all over the world. Some examples of jobs are: Community Relations Specialist for the Charlotte Area Transit Authority, Finance Director for the City of Rock Hill, college professor at Western Carolina University, office manager for Southeast Valve, Inc., civil rights attorney, paralegal, and an investigator for the Department of Defense. The American Political Science Association has more information at QuickLinks for Students | APSA.

MA/Ph.D. Careers

Graduate degrees in political science are valued by all employment sectors mentioned above. The Ph.D. is the most advanced degree and is awarded in a variety of fields.

Master's degrees in political science are valued by public and private agencies and a growing number of nonprofit associations or NGOs. Many people enter graduate school immediately after they finish their undergraduate degree. Some choose to work and gain job experience. Trying different things and figuring out your aptitudes and preferences is rarely time wasted. Dr. Michael Lipscomb serves as the Graduate School advisor to our majors interested in pursuing an advanced degree. We host a large amount of information on various grad school programs in the department office, Political Science reading room and the third floor hallway bulletin board. For an example of possible programs, please check http://www.apsanet.org/opps/grad, http://www.naspaa.org or http://www.apsia.org.

Many people who earn a Ph.D. in political science work as professors in colleges and universities - teaching and writing about politics. These positions often lead to important service in schools, communities and the nation. All of our full-time faculty possess Ph.D.s in political science. For the best resource on this career option, they would be the ones to question. We have a few graduates each year that go on to Ph.D. programs all over the world. Our most recent May graduate was accepted to the Ph.D. program at Ohio State University with full funding. Another one of our students recently completed her MA at Appalachian State University and was accepted at the University of South Carolina for a Ph.D. One place to explore this possible career path is QuickLinks for Students | APSA

Navigating Education and Career Choices

Choosing a college/university or finding a job in any discipline, including political science, requires a significant amount of research, planning and preparation. APSA sponsors a number of programs that help students navigate these choices.

  • Mentoring- Coming soon. New program on mentoring.
  • Internships- Guide to internships in Washington DC. Also, applicable to internships elsewhere.
  • Funding 
  • Graduate Education
  • PS Essays- Review essays published in PS: Political Science & Politics from political scientists discussing career challenges.
  • Ralph Bunche Summer Institute- For minority students interested in graduate study. Summer prior to senior year. Winthrop has been honored to send four students to the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute in the past five years. Please see Dr. Adolphus Belk for additional information.
  • Minority Student Recruitment Program- For minority students interested in graduate study. APSA provides names to 50+ graduate programs to actively recruit students.
  • Minority Fellows Program- Fellowship for graduate study for minority students

*The American Political Science Association (APSA) is our national professional association. Its websites contain a wealth of information, which can also be obtained, by request, in printed format. Almost all of the information on this webpage comes from the APSA's publication, "Careers and the Study of Political Science", 6th edition.