Why study Political Science?

Jeanne Steffener, Tulalip Tribes Higher ED


The study of politics is both humanistic and scientific and it is centuries old. Aristotle called it the “queen of the sciences”. The American Constitution reveals a coming together of political theory with the practical creation of political institutions and practices. Today’s political research consists of highly scientific and demanding attempts to understand human behavior and world events. The study of politics prepares you for not only employment but for life as an informed citizen ready to join in political activities within interest groups or political parties related to community organization and political advocacy. You might even one day service as an elected or appointed official.

A major in political science offers a solid undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences. This course of study prepares the graduate for a variety of careers by stressing the acquisition of skills in communication and critical analysis; encouraging independent thought, tolerance, and informed interest in current affairs. The ability to define a problem and contribute to its solution is highly valued in a number of employment scenarios, as are skills in writing, research, and evaluation. These are elements that characterize a liberal arts education. Graduates today can expect to change jobs a number of times and even possibly change careers which makes political science an excellent preparation for the flexibility required in today’s employment market. The study of political science provides a background for careers in government at the local, state and national levels; international organizations; political campaigns; interest groups and lobbying organizations; journalism; business and law.

The federal government is our country’s largest employer. They employ a large diverse number of employees making use of their skills, abilities & levels of responsibility. Advancement can be gained with excellent job security, pay and benefits. Specific job skills are not what hiring agencies are looking for. They look for people who can learn quickly, work as part of a team and have basic understanding of the policy process and the operations of a national government. What is valuable for students intending to work for the federal government is course work on the executive branch, Congress, the courts, policy process, activities of interest groups and political parties and the role media plays.

Local and state governments provide services in nearly every area of our lives. Courses on state and urban government, public policy, and public administration would be very valuable. Skills acquired in a statistics course and the experience of an internship is really relevant for jobs at the local and state level.

International businesses and organizations offer a variety of careers for those who have an understanding of the political and regulatory environment which effect businesses. Some of the courses that provide knowledge in these areas are: comparative politics, international relations and organizations, public policy, political development, and interest group politics. Electives or minors in these areas are extremely helpful: basic economics, statistics, computer science and international trade.

Lawyers are employed by corporations, governments, organizations and going into private practice. Admission to law school is largely based on undergraduate grade point average and LSAT exam scores. Content of courses at law schools prepare future attorneys’ for the different areas of law that they will eventually practice. The practicing of law requires the honed skills of critical analysis, effective writing and communication, and knowledge of subject matter related to the law and legal processes.

Top-notch communication skills are required for journalists, as well as a bachelor’s degree. Regardless of the type of media you are interested in, a broad based liberal arts background is a must. A liberal arts education which contributes to your understanding of society and individuals is vital. Course work in the fields of political science, history, economics and sociology are highly valued. A basic understanding of the American political system is essential, while participating on a school newspaper or campus broadcasting station would be an extremely relevant experience.

Even if you are unsure about your career plans, studying Political Science can be a great avenue to pursue. Employers look for the critical thinking and communication skills that political scientists have acquired along with the knowledge about government and international politics. Please call Higher ED staff at 360-716-4888 or email us at highered@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov for assistance on this educational path.