Careers in Political Science
What Can I Do With a Degree in Political Science?
A degree in Political Science prepares you for responsibilities in a democratic society and an interdependent world. Our program at OU provides students with invaluable tools—from conceptual frameworks and critical thinking to communication skills and practical knowledge of political institutions—applicable across a range of career choices. Whether headed into American public service, global affairs, teaching, or graduate school, students leave our program with an appreciation for the diverse perspectives and complex problems in today’s politics.
Working in Politics
Each year, our students move on to promising jobs in a variety of areas. About one quarter of our students accept jobs with local, state, or federal government agencies. Many stay in Ohio (some in Athens!), and many move to Washington and beyond. Our alums have worked as legislative aides and financial analysts in the Ohio Senate; they have occupied executive positions in the Governor’s office and other departments within state government; and others have served in the US foreign service, the US Senate, and the White House. Our program offers students not only the practical knowledge for navigating these governmental venues but also the communications and analytical skills to engage in the democratic processes they sustain.
Another quarter of our students work in non-profit organizations. Recent placements include the following: Habitat for Humanity, the American Cancer Society, Rural Action, Business Forward in DC, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Athens County, and YMCA in DC. Many of our students seek out internships with social services organizations and advocacy groups to prepare themselves for the job market in this growing sector.
A growing number of our students have global ambitions. Having taken advantage of our coursework in international affairs, they are increasingly looking to career opportunities abroad, or in globally-minded industries here in the U.S. We have students who have worked as trade representatives, in the Peace Corps, and in places as diverse as Canada, China, Norway, South Africa, Indonesia, and Britain. To prepare for these careers, students can benefit not only from the experience of our many globally oriented faculty, but from numerous study abroad opportunities and enrollment in certificate programs in Global Studies (Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe) and War & Peace Studies.
About a quarter of our students attend law school upon completing the undergraduate degree. Some of these students will work in law firms, while others will apply their legal expertise in areas such as government, advocacy, or business. Our pre-law program offers the strongest array of law-related courses on campus, and the results are clear: our students have attended some of the most prestigious law schools in the country, including Yale, Chicago, Harvard, DePaul, Northwestern, Columbia, Stanford, and Wisconsin.
A number of our students seek graduate degrees in areas such as political science, public administration, and international affairs. Our alums have been admitted to some of the best MA and PhD programs in the country, such as those offered by the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, MIT, Ohio State University, Princeton University, the University of Washington, and Yale University. Our curriculum offers students a rigorous preparation for advanced study, and our faculty work hard to advise students during the application process.
What Our Graduates Say
"My MA degree in Political Science has opened doors for my career in state government …. Within a week of finishing my degree I had a challenging position with the Ohio Legislature and have been given the opportunity to advance based in part on my credentials from OU."
Erin Jones, Local Government Liaison, Ohio Department of Development
"Since graduating …, I have made advocacy a way of life. I now represent the interests of a major manufacturing sector of the US economy before the Administration and Congress. I practice daily the critical thinking and cross-cultural communication skills taught to me by OU's faculty of lifelong professors, recognized topical experts and former public administrators."
Marybeth Kelliher, Senior Manager, International Trade, American Chemistry Council
"The MA program in Political Science at Ohio University is an ideal stepping stone on the road to earning a Ph.D. The coursework exposes students to a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge. Moreover, the faculty members are keenly interested in sharpening students' analytical skills and are well positioned to place students in either policy positions or Ph.D. programs."
Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Director, Oslo Year Program, University of Oslo
"The MA program helped me to recognize that a career in public interest environmental law was for me. The program gave me a solid preparation for law school … The material I read and wrote about and the discussions I have with my professors and fellow students were often better than those I have at Harvard. I haven't experienced anything like the support, guidance, and individual attention I received from the faculty since I left OU."
Jeff Baran, Law Student Harvard University
The Political Science program at Ohio University not only provided me with the education I needed to excel, but also the strong network of alumni has been an endless source of opportunity and support as well as the key to obtaining many of my career goals."
Scott Williams, Director of Government Relations, Ohio Farm Bureau