Why study political science in the US? An undergraduate major is the perfect way for international students to learn about American political policies and institutions while studying in the United States. And, with so many topics of study within the major, Political Science majors are prepared for a broad range of careers after graduation.
What do lawyers, diplomats, journalists, and CIA agents have in common? While it may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, there is a unifying thread between these diverse professions: a degree in political science.
Don't let the name fool you; no lab coat required! Political science, a general overview of political institutions and behavior, is a social science, more akin to history and anthropology than biology and chemistry. Common concentrations within a political science major include American politics, comparative government, political theory, and law and public policy. Additionally at most colleges and universities, political science in the US encapsulates how governmental actions and policies effect population behavior, so courses on race and gender in relation to politics are increasingly popular. With so many specific concentrations available under the umbrella of a political science degree, the political science major incorporates aspects of international relations, sociology, and economics for an even broader reaching field of study.
Political Science is versatile not only because of its varied concentrations of course study, but also because of the skill set which the degree program helps to cultivate. International students who study political science in the US will come away with improved writing, communication, and debate skills, greater ability to problem solve, and a more comprehensive understanding of political systems, both domestic and abroad. As earlier stated, a political science course load will incorporate elements of other social sciences as well, so international students with a degree in political science will also come away with increased knowledge of concepts covered by other majors.
And, then, of course, there is an additional perk for the international student studying Political Science in the US; what better place to study America's political institutions than in America?
Although the course requirements for every university differ, most political science departments require that students select courses from three or more distinct fields. At most schools, those fields of study, designed to introduce students to the core concepts of domestic and global political systems, are pre-set and required of all political science majors. For example, at the University of Southern California, international students must take courses in all four of the following fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Law and Public Policy, and Political Thought.
In addition to the required fields of study for the major, at many universities, students studying political science in the US can customize their concentration based on individual interest. For example, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), students can create their own focus of study by selecting three concentrations from the following list: Political Philosophy, Political Economy, American Politics, Public Policy, International Politics, Comparative Politics, and Methods and Models.
Whichever route international students decide to take, following a preset course curriculum or crafting a more individualized course of study, the vast variety of class offerings at most universities allows plenty of room for students to customize their study within political science.
Because of its broad subject matter and the skill set it emphasizes, political science proves beneficial for a variety of careers, including but not limited to:
- CIA/FBI Agent
- Political Consultant
- Campaign Worker
- Research Analyst
- Government Worker
- Foreign Service Officer
- Public Relations
Specialized Political Science Degrees
Sometimes in order to change the world, policies have to be made. International students who study environmental policy will have the opportunity to decide which policies will reduce the impact on the earth and how those policies will be implemented. Without these students, the ability to protect the planet from various risks and issues would be more difficult and less apparent.
International affairs gives students the opportunity to be global-minded with diverse perspectives on politics and business while helping make the world a better place to live for communities across the world.
So, why study political science in the US? Not only will a political science degree help cultivate analytical skills crucial to a wide range of employment opportunities, it's a fun and interesting way for an international student to learn about the political structure of their temporary home!
Political Science Programs
Learn more about studying political science in the USA by reading our growing article collection:
- What Is Political Science?
- Careers in Political Science?
- Where to Study Political Science
- Top Political Science Schools
- Undergraduate Degrees in Political Science
- Graduate Degrees in Political Science
- Make a Difference with a Degree in Environmental Policy
- See the World with a Degree in International Affairs