Political science involves learning about governments and their operations (systems and processes), public policies and governmental behavior. Combinations of professional law and Master of Arts in Political Science degree programs teach various aspects of public and constitutional law. Students have opportunities to conduct research and to hone their legal writing abilities. It could take up to four years to complete the two programs.
Political law certificate programs that can be combined with a bachelor's degree program are also available. They might focus on numerous topics, including sociology, political science and philosophy. Each program may have lengthy admissions requirements.
Undergraduate Certificate in Politics and Law
Current enrollment in a 4-year program and a background in sociology and political science is commonly required for entry into the certificate program. The focus of a politics and law certificate program varies depending on the institution and is often pursued along with a 4-year degree. It may provide students with an understanding of value or ethical issues from the perspective of a variety of disciplines or an introduction to socio-legal research.
Programs are interdisciplinary and may involve courses from philosophy, political science, sociology, communications, criminology and public law, among other subjects. Socio-legal research considers an individual's motivation to obey the law or to seek to appeal other people's civil rights. Value and ethical studies focus on how politics, morality and the law interrelate. Most courses in the program are at the third and fourth year levels. Courses may include:
- Constitutional law
- Criminal justice
- International law
- Political theory
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Juris Doctor / Master of Arts Degree in Political Science
Generally, these two degree programs take 3-4 years to complete and applicants are required to secure separate admission to each program. Common admission requirements include LSAT and/or GRE scores; courses in political science, a foreign language and statistics; and a bachelor's degree.
Once enrolled, students pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or law degree along with a Master of Arts in Political Science investigate the many connections between the law, government and politics. Coursework also helps students perfect their research and writing skills. The law program teaches students the fundamentals of civil, criminal and constitutional law. The political science portion of the program may cover political theory as well as domestic and international politics. Coursework may include:
- Public law
- Legal writing
- Political theory
- Civil procedure
Popular Career Options
A certificate in law and politics is generally geared towards undergraduate students who may want to attend graduate school or enroll in a professional program. It is also suitable for professionals in law, healthcare, politics or business who need some formal training in ethics. The certificate program itself does not lead to a specific career, but may be combined with a bachelor's degree.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals with a graduate degree in political science and a law degree may find jobs with federal or state governments. This is because governments are increasingly finding themselves in the position of resolving social problems, creating a need for individuals with knowledge and skills in law and political science.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that political scientists made a median salary of $99,730 in 2015. The BLS also anticipated that jobs for political scientists would decrease 2% between 2014 and 2024. Political scientists are researchers who may examine Supreme Court decisions or small town politics. They may also investigate election results and forecast trends in the economic, social and political arenas.
The BLS reported lawyers had a median annual salary of $115,820 as of May 2015 and expected a 6% increase in jobs for lawyers from 2014 to 2024. This projected job growth is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Students who are interested in a career in constitutional law, criminal justice, public law, litigation or public writing are examples of those who would pursue a political law certificate or degree. The combination Juris Doctor and Master of Arts in Political Science program give students a broad understanding of civics, philosophy, legal writing and many of the other cornerstones of our modern society.