6 Steps to Become a Political Scientist
Political scientists are experts in the field of politics and government who study the theory and practice of politics, government, and public policy. They conduct research, write and publish scholarly articles, teach, and advise and consult on political and policy issues.
To become a political scientist, you typically need to earn a Ph.D. in political science or a related field. It typically takes around 5-7 years to complete. The program includes coursework in various subfields of political science, such as American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory, as well as specialized coursework in a chosen area of focus. Additionally, Ph.D. students typically complete a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation, which is a research project that makes an original contribution to the field of political science. Here is a list of steps to become a political scientist:
- Earn a bachelor's degree: To become a political scientist, you will need to start by earning a bachelor's degree in political science or a related field, such as international relations, economics, history, or sociology. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete and provides a broad overview of the field of political science.
- Get a master's degree: The next step is to earn a master's degree in political science or a related field. A master's degree typically takes two years to complete and allows students to specialize in a particular area of political science, such as American politics, comparative politics, or international relations.
- Gain work experience: Some Ph.D. programs require applicants to have work experience in a related field, such as research, government, or non-profits. This will help you gain practical skills and knowledge, as well as develop a research focus.
- Earn a Ph.D.: The final step to becoming a political scientist is earning a Ph.D. in political science or a related field. A Ph.D. typically takes five to seven years to complete, and includes coursework, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation.
- Find a job: After completing a Ph.D., political scientists can work in a variety of settings, such as academia, research, government, or the private sector. It's important to gain relevant experience and network to increase your chances of finding a job.
- Stay current: Political scientists must stay current on the latest research and trends in the field to be effective in their work. This can be achieved through reading scholarly journals, attending conferences, and participating in professional organizations.
With a Ph.D., political scientists can work in the following fields:
- Academia: Many political scientists work as professors at colleges and universities, where they teach courses, conduct research, and advise students.
- Research: Political scientists may work as researchers at think tanks, non-profits, or government agencies, where they conduct research on policy issues and provide analysis to policymakers.
- Government: Some political scientists work as policy analysts or advisers at the federal, state, or local level, helping to shape policy decisions.
- Private sector: A small number of political scientists work in the private sector, where they may conduct research, provide analysis, or consult on policy-related matters.
Becoming a political scientist requires a significant investment of time and effort. It starts by earning a bachelor's degree in political science or a related field, followed by a master's degree in the same or related field. To increase your chances of getting a job in the field, gaining experience through internships, volunteer work or research assistantship, is highly recommended. As with any profession, it's important to stay current on the latest research and trends in the field, by reading scholarly journals, attending conferences and participating in professional organizations.