North Carolina Central University
1801 Fayetteville St.
Durham, NC 27707
The study of political science develops not only reasoning and analytical skills, but also communication skills, both oral and written. Furthermore, North Carolina Central University political science majors acquire skills in data analysis and computer usage. Thus, the study of political science prepares a student to pursue many different careers. The following highlights some of the frequently chosen careers for which political science has been most useful. In addition, you should check the web page of the American Political Science Association: www.apsanet.org
Law has been a very popular choice of political science majors. Each year, a large number of NCCU political science majors who apply to law school are admitted. For years, NCCU political science majors have enrolled and graduated from a wide variety of law schools. For example, it is an unusual year that the top political science majors are not admitted to some of the top law schools in the country, especially the NCCU law school and the University of North Carolina. The careers paths after law school have been extremely varied with some entering other professions, but most find positions within the legal profession. The latter include private practice, serving as legal counsel of private organizations or public agencies, and service on the bench. Areas of law include criminal, corporate, civil rights, sports and entertainment, and environmental justice.
After law, one of the most frequently selected careers has been governmental service--both appointed and elected---at the local, state, and national levels. While all majors receive the same education about government, they have taken many different routes to their positions in government. Some have used the internship program as a springboard to launch their careers. Others have established contacts by being been active in electoral campaigns. Still others have used their subsequent masters degrees in public administration or public policy analysis to qualify for positions such as city manager. For any selection process, from the patronage system of Congress to civil service appointment in the executive branch, you can make yourself a more attractive prospective junior employee by acquiring or improving desirable skills. While management skills may serve you in the longer term, initial entry will be enhanced by a strong background in quantitative analysis techniques. Of course, this is in addition to strong analysis and communication skills.
Many are surprised to learn that a large number of political science majors are employed in business. Majors have found employment in a variety of fields, including marketing, personnel, advertising, public relations, banking and finance. Exact positions attained are varied, but include positions in management, research, and governmental liaison. Social science majors are attractive to business because their liberal arts education and skills in analysis and communication mean they can not only initially perform several functions, but also adapt to future changes. However, political science majors seeking a career in business can enhance their prospects by at a minimum having a sound background in statistical analysis and in basic business concepts. Beyond this you should consider business administration as an additional major or minor.
The 20th century has seen an explosion in the number of international organizations, both public and private. This has accompanied a similar increase, especially after 1960, in the number of domestic interest groups. Whether it is an environmental group lobbying the US Congress or the United Nations Environmental Program, all of these organizations need individuals for management, research, and interaction with other public and private entities. While the major in political science is excellent preparation, students can further enhance their job prospects. If you are interested in working for an international organization, foreign language skills may be a fundamental requirement. You may also want to develop some substantive expertise in a particular area. If you are concerned with and want to work for one of the environmental groups, then courses in environmental science would be particularly useful.
Political science majors have long found employment in some aspect of communications, but this trend accelerated after Watergate. Newspapers, and to a lesser extent the electronic news, have always needed individuals capable of understanding and communicating the significance of political events. With the post-Watergate increased emphasis on adversarial journalism there were even more opportunities for those who understood politics, could research problems or events, and then write clear coherent stories. Students considering such a career would be well advised to consider a joint major. Political science/English or mass communications would be particularly appropriate. Also, it would be a wise strategy to take advantage of the numerous local opportunities for hands-on experience. Local newspapers, radio stations, and television stations all provide opportunities for internships or paid positions.
Most of the job opportunities in political science itself require an advanced degree. This involves careers in teaching at the colligate level and doing scholarly research on various political and policy related issues. Approximately 75% of political scientists are employed by educational institutions, where a Ph.D. is a prerequisite for employment. Opportunities outside of academic---public affairs organizations, research organizations, consulting firms, Congressional staffs, etc.---are less likely to require a Ph.D., but you may be at a competitive disadvantage without it or a specialized degree such as Masters in Public Policyty's curriculum.