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Average Salary of a Political Science Major

A degree in political science typically covers coursework in analyzing data, researching, writing and public speaking. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary information for political science graduates.

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Essential Information

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.

CareerPolitical Scientists
Education RequirementsBahelor's for entry-level, master's and Ph.D. for advancement
Projected Job Growth (2012 - 2022)*21%
Median Annual Salary (2014)*$104,920

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that around 5,640 people were employed in 2014 throughout the United States as political scientists, with more than half of those working for the federal government (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the median salary for political scientists was $104,920 a year in 2014. Job growth in this field was estimated to be increasing by 21% between 2012 and 2022.

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.

Bachelor's Degree in Political Science

Generally, the type of bachelor's degree that graduates earn can impact their salaries. According to 2014 statistics released by PayScale.com, graduates with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in political science earned annual median salaries around $34,395 with less than one year of experience, increasing to $60,505 with 5-9 years of experience; at 20 or more years on the job, these workers made over $89,025. The median earnings for those with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree were $39,786 with less than one year of experience, $59,526 at 5-9 years, and more than $95,737 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 2015 included:

  • Paralegal: $45,723
  • Attorney: $80,000
  • Retail store manager: $41,712
  • Operations manager: $66,399
  • Executive assistant: $45,500
  • Legal assistant: $45,500
  • Office manager: $32,750

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 2015, as reported by PayScale.com, include the following:

  • Paralegal: $44,963
  • Executive assistant: $42,223
  • Operations manager: $52,039
  • Administrative assistant: $36,902
  • Account manager: $45,459
  • Government affairs director: $81,161
  • Office manager: $41,366

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 2015 often held the following job titles with corresponding median yearly salaries:

  • Executive director: $70,000
  • Foundation program officer: $58,958
  • Account Manager: $38,000
  • Nonprofit program coordinator: $40,000
  • Legislative assistant: $45,000
  • Policy analyst: $75,000
  • Executive assistant: $57,391

Salaries of Graduates with a Political Science Doctorate Degree

According to PayScale.com, in 2015 political science doctorate degree holders had a median annual salary of $53,500 at 1-4 years of work experience. At 5-9 years, the median was $60,000, while those with 20 or more years of experience earned a median of $120,000.

Industries Employing Political Science Majors

As reported by the BLS in 2014, 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 the local government. The breakdown of the annual 2014 mean wage for political scientists in these industries is as follows:

  • Federal executive branch: $117,390
  • Scientific research and development services: $104,220
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $99,990
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools: $65,040
  • Local government: $68,690

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 2014 annual mean wage for each location.

Salary Info: States with the Most Political Science Workers

  • District of Columbia: $111,420
  • Virginia: $118,080
  • California: $71,030
  • Texas: $70,460
  • Maryland: $102,830

Salary Info: Metropolitan Areas with the Most Political Science Workers

  • Washington, DC: $112,870
  • Seattle, WA: $72,410
  • San Jose, CA: $72,060
  • New York, NY: $122,940
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics