Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Political Science?
If you are serious about a career as a political scientist then the answer is yes, you need to get a master’s degree in political science. Actually, even if your job title is not that of a political scientist but that of a diplomat, foreign affairs analyst, policy analyst or a political science professor, it is still necessary to get your master’s degree.
Careers in political science and its related professions are basically concerned with political ideas, political systems and political trends. Political scientists do research, analyze policies and collect data about different political processes and determine how these relate to the present political, economic and social situation. Making forecasts—for example of who is likely to win a presidential election—and determining the likely outcome of a particular piece of legislation are also part and parcel of their work.
All these tasks require a greater understanding of the issues involved and the ability to use qualitative and quantitative methodologies in research and data gathering. A master’s degree in political science program will include coursework in political analysis, quantitative methods, comparative politics, political theory and American politics, among others. It will also typically include an internship which will enable the student to gain actual experience in real world politics. This kind of background will give you a higher-level understanding of politics which are necessary to become an effective political scientist.
What about if you are aiming for career as a diplomat where the minimum requirement is simply a bachelor’s degree? Should you still get a master’s degree in political science? The answer would still be in the affirmative. Before you can work in the Foreign Service, you will have to go through a long application process which entails passing the Foreign Service Officer Test. The wider your knowledge is about political science, public policy, international relations and related fields is, the better your chances of passing the test with flying colors.
If you have plans to go into research or teach in the academe then a master’s degree would open the door to these jobs. Ideally, you should get a PhD in political science if you intend to really go into teaching and research but a master’s degree will still qualify you for stints at some colleges.
A deeper understanding about politics and a better grasp of political processes such as elections and public opinion—things that a master’s degree program will give you—will also allow you to work with any of the branches of the federal government. Whether you want to become a political adviser to a senator or fill an administrative position in a government agency, a master’s degree will become your ticket for entry.
Related to the question of whether you should obtain your master’s degree is most likely the concern on when you should take it. Is it better to do so right after you have obtained your bachelor’s degree or only after you have attained some actual work experience in the field? Each has its pros and cons and the answer will be a matter of your personal preference. The good thing about taking your master’s degree right after your bachelor’s is that your education is continuous and when you finally go out into the world, you will have strong educational credentials that will improve your chances of landing a good job. On the other end of the spectrum, finding work in the field of politics directly after getting your bachelor’s degree and then going back to school only after you have attained this precious experience will allow you to have a deeper understanding of the theory and thus will be able to relate this to actual practice.
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