What students can do with a political science degree


Photo Courtesy of Oakland University

Political Science professor David Dulio

There are three different types of political science undergraduate programs at OU students can enter — international relations, traditional political science and public administration. All three of these programs contain the idea of studying all levels of government in different settings.

These majors come with building the skills of critical thinking, data analysis, accessing relationships, understanding the relationship between cause and effect and writing. For students, these skills are applicable to a wide variety of career paths.

“The idea behind our degrees is to help students develop skills that they need to be successful in any kind of work environment,” David Dulio, professor in the Department of Political Sciences said.

The different kinds of specializations offered by OU’s political science department allow students to focus on what they are interested in. For instance, there’s foreign affairs and policies, global justice and sustainability and a law and court specialization.

“They are designed to give students some exposure to a real focused set of course work for a particular field within the broader disciplines,” Matthew Fails, associate professor in the Department of Political Sciences said.

While getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science is more of a broad topic, it focuses generally on the study of multi-government, elections and voting behavior. Students do have options to narrow their degree focus. Getting a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in international relations focuses more on global politics, economies and philosophy. This program has more of a focus on the inner workings of relationships between nations.

Public administration is where students can learn about skills relevant to a state or local government setting. This program focuses on city management and county government areas of politics.

“One of the great things about our department are the opportunities that students have available to them,” Dulio said. “That can range from the kind of opportunities that exist in the classroom … co-curricular activities [and]  extracurricular activities.”

In public administration there is more of a direct link between the course of study to a job. Students that take this route are more likely to go on to get their Masters degree. This degree can help students that are interested in being a city clerk, city manager or someone that does budgeting for local government.

For political science majors, this can help students who are interested in being state representatives. They can work as legislative assistants or directors or work the non-profit aspects. This comes in handy for the OU students who go on to law school or other graduate programs after their undergraduate education.

It’s important to keep in mind that being a political science major doesn’t mean the jobs after college have to focus directly on politics. Students with these degrees can go into various international organizations, public health, the intelligence community or formal policy making. “Poli-sci” students also have opportunities in the private sector, as many use their education to become entrepreneurs, data analysts or brand managers.  

“To be a political scientist does not mean you want to go into politics, it does not mean you want to sit around and talk about politics all the time,” Fails said. “It just means you’re interested in studying those things.”