What Can You Do with a PhD in Political Science [2023 Guide]

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If you’re fascinated by political systems and want to study their influence in-depth, you may find yourself asking, “What can you do with a PhD in Political Science?”

What Can You Do with a PhD in Political Science

This doctoral program may present opportunities to learn about global politics, explore conflicts of power, and practice policy analysis. You will likely conduct original research in the field and prepare a dissertation with your findings.

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This terminal degree may help propel you toward the top of the political science field and prepare you for a career in an educational, government, or private institution, where you can help shape others’ understandings of politics and power.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Political Science?

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers in a meeting

The field of political science is filled with opportunities to gather data, conduct research, analyze policies, study power structures, and explore ideas.

Once you’ve earned a PhD, you may apply that knowledge and skillset with jobs both inside and outside of academia. Academic positions are some of the most popular PhD political science jobs.

You may teach classes on international relations or international affairs. As a professor, you might also conduct research. The average annual salary for postsecondary political science teachers is $85,760, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Working in the field as a political scientist is another career track to consider.

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Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 48% of political scientists are employed by the federal government. Many political science professionals work as policy analysts. Your knowledge of power systems could also be beneficial in a public relations role. You might be particularly well-suited to work as a press secretary for a political candidate.

A doctorate in political science could also inform your work as a journalist, a broadcast news analyst, a government official, a survey researcher, or a market research analyst. With additional training, you may also become a lawyer.

5 Things You Can Do with a PhD in Political Science

Political Scientists in a meeting

Having a Ph.D. in Political Science can help you enter into an academic career or apply for advanced positions in non-academic settings.

With this traditional or online political science degree, you might be employed by an academic institution, a government organization, a think tank, or a private business.

1. Broadcast News Analyst

Broadcast News Analysts interviewing a politician

Journalists and news analysts often cover issues related to politics and power. With your expert knowledge of political science, your voice might be trusted as a source of information and analysis regarding current events.

Reporters and other news professionals work for television networks, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, websites, and other forms of media. You might work for one particular outlet or share your insight with a variety of news sources.

2. Political Scientist

Political Scientists walking together

Anyone who studies political systems and power structures can be thought of as a political scientist. You may be especially successful in this role if you focus your studies on one particular aspect of political science, such as pursuing a PhD in International Relations.

As a political scientists, you may work for the federal government, labor unions, research institutions, and grantmaking agencies. You may also act as a policy analyst, evaluating the influence of laws and regulations.

3. Political Science Postsecondary Teacher

Political Science Postsecondary Teacher teaching in a university

If you want to become a full-time college faculty member and work toward a tenure-track position, having an online PhD in Political Science may be a valuable asset. As a professor, you might teach undergraduate or graduate students.

Many faculty members conduct research in addition to their teaching responsibilities. Your university might fund your research, allow you to have students assist with your projects, and encourage you to seek publication.

4. Public Relations Specialist

Public Relations Specialist working in an office

Individuals and organizations depend on public relations specialists to represent them to the public, convey messages on their behalf, and project a sense of calm and control during crisis situations.

Your knowledge of political science may help you understand the dynamics at play in PR settings. You might be especially successful as a press secretary. This job title is used for public relations specialists who represent political figures.

5. Survey Researcher

Survey Researcher interviewing someone

If you’re interested in investigating the effects of politics and policies, you may consider a career as a survey researcher.

You may gather data from survey participants, analyze the findings, and present your information to others who may use it to shape legislation, organizational policies, or lobbying platforms.

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As a survey researcher, you could work for a research or polling organization. There are also survey jobs within educational and government institutions.

Political Science Careers & Salaries

Political Science Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political scientists earn an average annual salary of $125,350, and jobs in this field are projected to increase at a 6% rate for the next decade. You may also pursue the following careers or positions with a doctorate in political science.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Lawyer $126,930
Political Scientist $125,350
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager $118,430
Economist $108,350
Top Executive $107,680
Political Theory Professor $85,760
Market Research Analyst $65,810
Lobbyist $62,810
Survey Researcher $59,870
Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst $49,300

While academic positions are sometimes thought of as the most highly sought PhD political science jobs, this extensive list demonstrates that there is a wide range of careers you could pursue with this degree.

How Much Money Can You Make with a PhD in Political Science?

Market Research Analyst working

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most political scientists earn between $62,840 and $170,800 per year. Factors such as your professional experience and the state in which you work can influence your PhD political science salary.

This is a broad field, so your salary may largely depend on what type of employer you have. Political scientists who work in the professional, scientific, and technical services sector earn an average of $136,640 per year. Federal government political scientists earn an average of $133,460.

The average salary for political scientists who work for educational, religious, and grantmaking organizations is around $87,910.

What Is a PhD in Political Science Good For?

political science professor teaching in a university

Political science doctoral programs can help provide the training that you need for a career at a university. You may teach political science at the college level or work in a university-affiliated research lab.

Your degree may also qualify you to work as a policy analyst or a political scientist. As a political scientist, you may find work in government agencies, political groups, and private organizations.

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You may also become a public relations professional, a market research analyst, or a survey researcher. A political science PhD could also enhance your career as a business executive, a lawyer, a legislator, or a journalist.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Political Science?

PhD in Political Science student studying in a library

Your time in a doctoral program will be broken into several stages. A doctorate can typically be completed in 3 to 5 years. The length of each program may vary depending on your school’s structure and your personal schedule.

The coursework and examination portion of your studies may take 2 to 3 years. After that will come the dissertation portion. You may spend at least 1 full year conducting research and 1 or more years completing your project.

Some universities expect PhD political sciences students to be finished within a specific timeframe, but you may be able to request an extension.

Can You Get a PhD in Political Science?

lawyer working in the office

Universities do offer Ph.D. programs in political science. Holding this degree is often a requirement for a job as a survey researcher, a political scientist, or a postsecondary political science educator.

You may have the option to select one or more areas of specialization, such as comparative politics or conflict management. During your studies, you may take courses on American politics, political analysis, and transnational politics.

You will likely complete a dissertation or another doctoral capstone project. If this field of study interests you, you may consider looking for a school that offers an online PhD in Political Science program.

Is a PhD in Political Science Worth It?

Market Research Analysts working together

Yes, a PhD in Political Science is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the life, physical, and social science field are set to grow at 5% over the next ten years, faster than the average overall growth.

Common political science careers in this field include postsecondary teacher, political scientist, public relations specialist, broadcast news analyst, and survey researcher.

Having a political science PhD may qualify you for a variety of non-academic jobs, but it may also lead to a career as a professor. If your goal is to secure a tenure-track position, then you’ll certainly need a PhD.

Getting Your PhD in Political Science Online

Getting Your PhD in Political Science Online

Politics is a fascinating topic that touches nearly every area of life. A political science PhD program may advance your knowledge about political systems and help you explore the ways that legislation and current events affect people and structures.

A doctorate in this field may help you further your political science, public relations, research, or journalism career within academia, the federal government, or a private organization.

You may want to consider exploring the best schools for political science for a flexible yet thorough approach to doctoral studies. Through an accredited online university, you may earn a respected political science doctorate that can help you take your career to the next level.

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Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.