How to Become a Political Science Professor

Jan 08, 2020

A political science professor is someone who teaches about the processes of law, government, and international relations. Find out more about the training, skills, salary, and other careers related to this profession.

What is a Political Science Professor?

A political science professor is a post-secondary teacher working at a college or a university. Some professors may also work in high schools, teaching Advanced Placement courses.

Responsibilities of the political science professor include creating lectures, leading discussions with students, providing examples of political processes (like organizing students into small congresses and debating bills) and gathering, analyzing, and reporting data related to the political spectrum.

The study of political science can focus on one of many fields, including public administration, political economy, health policy, urban planning, Latin American studies, and international development. Sub-fields that can be explored for specialized research include political theory, American politics, and comparative politics.

Education Requirements PhD in Political Science
Job Duties Planning and giving lectures, grading exams, facilitating hands-on learning experiences, participating in active research, and completing regular university-centered duties
Median annual wages (May 2018) $83,370 (political science teachers, postsecondary)*
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 8% increase (political science teachers, postsecondary)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Training for Becoming a Political Science Professor

To become a political science professor, a person will probably be required to earn an undergraduate degree, a master's degree, and finally, a doctoral degree. Some community colleges hire those with master's degrees for teaching positions, as well. Not all degrees have to be from the field of political science; for example, as an undergraduate, the future professor could study something related to political science, like English or communication.

According to the American Political Science Association, in order for one to be accepted to a PhD program in political science, a master's degree is not strictly necessary. However, potential PhD students will need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test in order to apply to most PhD programs.

In a PhD program, students complete coursework, original research, and a dissertation in the field of political science. Some PhD candidates may also serve as teaching assistants during their student years.

Required Skills

Political science professors must be able to perform the duties of an instructor. They will plan lectures; design, give, and grade tests; communicate clearly through the written and spoken word; and complete research. They may also need to attend meetings, organize events, and participate in community outreach and recruiting for the school. Publishing research is also important for many professors; it proves that they are staying relevant with their field.

Political science professors should also be proficient in soft skills. Public speaking, negotiating, adaptability, and thinking outside of the box are all key to successfully leading a good class. Leadership skills also help, especially when facilitating class exercises in modeling government activities - deal making, negotiating, and giving clear feedback all help students understand how the machinations of government and diplomacy work.

Salary and Job Outlook for Political Science Professors

Political science postsecondary teaching jobs from 2018-2028 are expected to increase by 8%, says the BLS, which is faster than average; however, some of these jobs may be for part-time positions. A current trend in academia is to hire part-time instructors instead of full time, tenure-track professors; this means that a limited number of full-time, tenure-track political science professor positions may be open in the future. According to the BLS, pay may range from under $43,300 to over $177,000, as of 2018.

Related Careers:

Everyone who completes a PhD in political science may not go into university teaching. Some may follow a different path as a university administrator, political scientist, or political consultant.

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