The salary earned by the average political science graduate can vary greatly, depending on the degree level and job location. In addition, the type of degree also makes a difference in salary; for example, those with a Bachelor of Science degree typically earn a slightly lower median salary than those who hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Graduates with master's or Ph.D. degrees in political science generally earn more than those holding bachelor's degrees.
You can choose many different career paths with a political science degree. A multitude of options exist such as teaching, policy analyst, writer, research assistant or administrative positions.
The BLS reported that around 3,910 people were employed in 2015 throughout the United States as political scientists. According to the BLS, the median salary for political scientists was $99,730 a year in 2015. Job growth in this field was estimated to be declining by 2% between 2014 and 2024.
However, because education programs in this degree field combine humanities and rhetorically based coursework with statistics, demographics and other quantitative subjects, political science students receive a versatile education and may find jobs in a variety of industries besides those classified as political science.
Possible career options for those with a bachelor's degree include jobs in law, media, government service, education at the middle or high school level and non-profit organizations. Job titles may include market analyst, research assistant, writer or policy analyst. Those with a master's in political science often find work in research or administration within their master's concentration field or teach in secondary schools or community colleges. Most political science professors in four-year colleges or universities have earned a doctorate degree.
Let's take a closer look at the earning potential for each degree option.
Bachelor's Degree in Political Science
Generally, the type of bachelor's degree that graduates earn can impact their salaries. According to 2016 statistics released by PayScale.com, graduates with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in political science earned annual median salaries around $45,005 with less than one year of experience, increasing to $62,922 with 5-9 years of experience; at 20 or more years on the job, these workers made over $100,692. The median earnings for those with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree were $42,928 with less than one year of experience, $63,312 at 5-9 years, and more than $99,996 at 20+ years.
Bachelor of Science in Political Science
Graduates with a B.S. in political science may work in jobs that might seem to have little relation to undergraduate political science studies. PayScale.com reported that the median salaries and key job titles for graduates with a B.S. in political science in 2016 included:
- Paralegal: $40,236
- Attorney: $65,003
- Operations manager: $66,466
- Executive assistant: $44,400
- Restaurant general manager: $49,875
Median Salaries and Job Titles for a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Graduate
The median yearly salaries and key job titles for those with a B.A. in political science in 2016, as reported by PayScale.com, include the following:
- Paralegal: $41,493
- Operations manager: $54,682
- Administrative assistant: $34,000
- Account manager: $45,000
- Marketing manager: $54,045
Salaries and Job Titles of Graduates with a Master of Arts in Political Science
Job titles for those who hold master's degrees in political science are generally more closely related to graduate coursework. According to PayScale.com, graduates with an M.A. in Political Science in 2016 often held the following job titles with corresponding median yearly salaries:
- High school teacher: $53,000
- Marketing director: $78,500
- Nonprofit program coordinator: $53,148
Salaries of Graduates with a Political Science Doctorate Degree
According to PayScale.com, in 2016 political science doctorate degree holders had a median annual salary of $63,434 at 1-4 years of work experience. At 10-19 years, the median was $114,929, while those with 20 or more years of experience earned a median of $138,000.
Industries Employing Political Science Majors
As reported by the BLS in 2015, the industries that employed the most political scientists with degrees of all levels were the federal executive branch of government, scientific research and development services, management and technical consulting services, colleges and universities, and social advocacy organizations. The breakdown of the annual 2015 mean wage for political scientists in these industries is as follows:
- Scientific research and development services: $115,100
- Federal executive branch: $119,810
- Colleges, universities and professional schools: $57,970
- Social advocacy organizations: $87,130
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $128,670
Geographic Concentration of Employed Political Scientists
The BLS delineates the states and cities with the most political science workers using statistical data and includes the 2015 annual mean wage for each location. Here's a run down of the states with the most political science workers and the corresponding average annual wage:
- District of Columbia: $110,360
- Virginia: $126,880
- California: $96,570
- Texas: $68,910
- Arizona: $97,800
The metropolitan areas with the most political science workers and their average annual wages are:
- Washington, DC: $117,140
- Phoenix, AZ: $100,490
- Seattle, WA: $70,760
- New York, NY: $119,520