Career Definition of a Political Science Professor
Political science professors teach courses and conduct research in the field of political science at postsecondary institutions (colleges and universities). Political science professors teach courses on topics which include American politics, international relations, policy issues, and comparative politics. They develop courses, evaluate and choose course materials, and develop assignments for the course. Professors plan and deliver lectures and plan and moderate class discussion. They evaluate student work on assignments, exams, and projects.
Areas of research include, but are not limited to, political economy, race and ethnic studies, electoral reform, conflict resolution, gender studies, and environmental policy. Professors publish their findings in journals and books. They also present their research at professional conferences, such as the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Professors will also carry out service-oriented duties, which may include advising and serving on committees. Political science professors must also keep up with developments in their fields through reading journals and books and attending professional conferences. The way a professor's time is split among teaching, research, and service will depend upon the institution and the professor's role at the institution.
|Educational Requirements||Master's degree and/or Ph.D.|
|Job Skills||Strong written comprehension and expression, ability to effectively communicate ideas to a variety of audiences, inductive reasoning, analytical skills, research skills|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$83,370|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)*||8%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A graduate degree is required in order to be hired as a political science professor. Some institutions will only hire applicants with a Ph.D in political science or a related field. Other institutions, such as community colleges, may hire applicants with only a master's degree in political science or a related field.
The majority of political science professors' time will be split between teaching and research. Teaching at the postsecondary level requires excellent communication skills: professors must be able to present complex information in a way that students from a variety of backgrounds will understand. They must also be able to respond effectively to students' questions and problems. Research requires excellent written comprehension and expression in addition to critical thinking skills. Professors must be able to read a large volume of research, understand what they have read, analyze the information, and apply it to their research. They present their research in articles, books, and at conferences. Professors are thus also required to have excellent written and verbal communication skills: they must be able to effectively communicate their ideas to both expert and non-expert audiences.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job growth from 2018-2028 for postsecondary political science teachers would be 8%. Competition for full-time tenure-track positions is expected to increase due to an increasing number of candidates entering the job market while colleges and universities are decreasing the number of full-time positions. Many institutions are replacing full-time professors with part-time professors, so there will be more part-time than full-time positions available. The BLS reported that the median salary for political science professors in 2018 was $83,370.
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