Do you like learning about the theory and practice of government? Would a career in political science, public administration or national security pique your interest? If so, read on to discover what a degree in government studies can do for you.
A degree program in government studies provides you with an understanding of the theory and practice of government, the nature of politics, policy making and public administration, as well as foreign policy and government security. A degree in this field may open doors to a number of career opportunities in government agencies, non-profit and non-governmental organizations or consulting firms, as well as in a college or university setting.
You may find work as a political scientist, social scientist, reporter, international trade specialist, research analyst, political consultant or professor. As a political scientist, you could study political systems and the operations of government structures, conduct research, assess the effects of government policies and predict political trends. You can decide to enroll in a program with a concentration in security studies, which allows you to learn about national security, foreign policy, terrorism and government intelligence. These types of courses could lead to a job in the fast-growing security field.
Income levels for this field vary according to your specific job, degree level and experience. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2010 that political scientists earned a median annual wage of $107,420 (www.bls.gov). In the same reporting year, it was noted that postsecondary political science teachers had a median annual wage of $70,540. The employment outlook for political scientists was predicted to be faster than average for all occupations from 2008-2018. Reporters and correspondents had an annual median wage of $34,530 in May 2010, with a predicted decline in employment of six percent between 2008 and 2018.
According to the BLS, entry-level positions for political scientists are available with a bachelor's degree. However, most positions require an advanced degree. If your passion is teaching at the college level, you need to earn a doctoral degree. An undergraduate degree in government could prepare you for a job as a journalist or correspondent, especially since many employers prefer candidates with a subject-matter specialty. An undergraduate degree may also prepare you for a number of entry-level jobs in homeland security, such as a border patrol agent.
In an undergraduate program, you usually take classes in political theory and philosophy, American politics, comparative politics, and international relations. These classes will provide a foundational understanding of political processes in the U.S. and other nations and lay the groundwork for either an entry-level job or an advanced degree.
A master's degree program will give you an in-depth look at the global political economy, public policy, law, policy-making and national security. You can learn about military and foreign policy in relation to global terrorism, as well as delving into the intricacies of the Constitution of the U.S. Doctoral degree programs in the field typically focus on a particular area of government studies, such as public policy, economics or international law. These programs are usually research-heavy, and you often need to prepare and defend a dissertation to graduate.