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Best Graduate Degrees for Political Science Majors

Students who completed political science majors may pursue graduate degrees in various areas. Explore master's and doctoral degrees in public policy, public administration, political science, and law.

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A political science major prepares students for graduate degrees in public policy, law, and of course political science, as well as many other areas of study. Below are graduate study options for people with political science majors.

Master's Degree in Public Policy (MPP)

A master's degree in public policy prepares students for performing quantitative and qualitative policy research. MPP holders are often presented with a policy issue about which they would be expected to develop recommendations and solutions. They often work in government and the non-profit sector, as well as for private companies. MPP programs usually include four semesters of coursework and a full-time summer internship.

Admission Requirements

Entrance requirements for MPP programs generally include a resume, statement of purpose, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores (for international students). Some programs require the fulfillment of relevant prerequisites to demonstrate proficiency with data analysis and/or microeconomics. These would likely be demonstrated by successful completion of undergraduate courses like statistics, microeconomics, or calculus.

Course Outline

Programs are generally two years or less and include courses in data analysis, policy process, policy analysis, and ethics, along with courses specific to policy areas like healthcare, energy, or education.

Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA)

A master's degree in public administration educates students in policy implementation and management and is a popular degree among non-profit and public service professionals. Common courses of study include international affairs, healthcare management, government administration, and urban development.

Admission Requirements

Entrance requirements for MPA programs typically include a resume, statement of purpose, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores (for international students). Because this is often considered a professional degree, many schools require some evidence of previous work experience in the field or give preference to those applicants who have experience.

Course Outline

MPA programs generally include four semesters of coursework and a full-time summer internship. Programs are generally two years or less, and include courses in management/leadership, finance, organizational behavior, and data analysis.

PhD in Political Science

A PhD in political science prepares students for the academic study of political science, most likely as a political science instructor and researcher at a community college, liberal arts college, or research university. Graduate students in political science often choose a primary field from among the common subfields of international relations, comparative politics, American politics (in the US), statistical/research methods, and political theory.

Admission Requirements

Entrance requirements for PhD programs generally include a resume or CV, statement of purpose, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores (for international students). Some programs also list a minimum GPA requirement for undergraduate courses, due to the academically rigorous nature of this degree.

Course Outline

The common course of study includes four semesters of rigorous coursework, field exams, and then independent research and writing a dissertation (usually takes 2-4 years), and is often supplemented with work as a teaching assistant or research assistant for a political science faculty member.

Juris Doctor (JD)

A JD prepares students for careers in the legal field as practicing attorneys, as well as positions in the non-profit sector, legislative analysis, arbitration, consulting, and politics. The common course of study includes classes in constitutional law, civil and criminal procedure, torts, legal writing, property law, and contract law, in addition to some kind of internship or practicum.

Admission Requirements

Entrance requirements for law school generally include a resume or CV, statement of purpose, college (and grad school) transcripts, letters of recommendation, LSAT scores, and TOEFL/PTE/IELTS scores (for international students). Some programs offer additional optional essays that allow applicants to speak to their ability to bring a unique perspective to their studies, or to provide additional information about their life circumstances that application reviewers should consider.

Course Outline

The common course of study includes classes in constitutional law, civil and criminal procedure, torts, legal writing, property law, and contract law, in addition to some kind of internship or practicum.

As you can see, graduate students with backgrounds in political science may bloom in many different professions. These careers include research, law, public service and teaching.

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