Do I Need a Political Science Degree to Work in Politics?

Young professionals and students who are hoping to get into politics are often unsure of what degree is best for their career goals. First, it’s important to consider whether a run for office is the goal — or if they’d prefer to work on a political campaign. 

What are the Best Degrees for a Political Career?

A political science degree can be a smart move before running for office, but other degrees can be a great fit as well. Majoring in international affairs, economics, pre-law, public policy, public administration, international relations, and business administration can all set political hopefuls up for a successful run for office. For those who would prefer to work behind the scenes of a campaign, these degrees can also be helpful. That being said, behind-the-scenes campaign workers and political strategists may find that a political science degree is a better fit for their needs than for someone who is the face of a campaign. 

Is a Political Science Degree One of the Best Degrees for a Political Career?

In a word: maybe. For those who are hoping to hold public office one day, it may make more sense to delve into an area of public policy that they’d like to change, such as public health, international affairs, or economics. A political science degree is sometimes a better fit for those who work behind the scenes, either for specific campaigns or for a political party as a whole. 

Featured Programs

What Do Students Learn from a Political Science Degree?

This social degree program is one of the best degrees for politics when it comes to working behind the scenes, as students are educated in areas including American politics, political theory, political history, statistics methods, research methods, and more areas that can work to inform campaign strategy. Those who run for office can also benefit from a political science degree, especially if they choose to specialize in an area specific to their campaign (such as economics or energy policy). It’s also smart for students who want to eventually run for office to talk with faculty about their aspirations, as making these connections early on can be helpful during a political campaign. 

What’s the Best Master’s Degree for Politics?

For students interested in pursuing their graduate degree before or while beginning a career in politics, there are many options. International affairs, public health administration, energy policy, public policy, business administration, and political science degrees can all create a solid graduate foundation for a political career. At the master’s level, the best degrees to get for a career in politics can differ heavily depending on the area in which a student wants to potentially work for a campaign or run for office. 

While education can be helpful in a political career, a graduate degree is not required. Earning an undergraduate degree and then turning to focus on public events, volunteering with campaigns, and learning more about the needs of potential constituents is a common way for politicians to work their way up to running for office. 

Earning one of the best degrees to get for a career in politics is often the first step in moving toward a successful campaign, but there are other facets of the college experience that can also make a successful run for office more likely. Getting involved with a political party through volunteer experience can be a smart move for a few reasons: first, it can give students a glimpse into the inner workings of a campaign, and secondly, volunteering with closely connected political individuals can provide students with a solid network should they decide to eventually run for office themselves. 

Which Matters More: Degree or Experience?

Education with one of the best degrees for a career in politics is important, but experience does too, and it’s tough to win a political campaign without both. For behind-the-scenes campaign and political party work, education is enough to get a foot in the door, and experience can happen on the job. For those who want to run for office, it’s important to have both one of the best degrees for politics and experience in volunteer work, public policy, or volunteering on other campaigns in order to get the respect and contributions needed for a viable run.

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Value Online Associate’s in Political Science

Top 25 Best Value Online Bachelor’s in Political Science

Top 25 Best Value Online Master’s in Political Science