College of Liberal and Fine Arts

What is Political Science?

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science at UTSA

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

                                                                                                                    -Pericles (495-429 BCE)

 

“What is Political Science?”

Politics is all around us. Aristotle called it the “master science” because it influences all aspects of human life: what we can do, what we can say, where we can live, even what we can eat. There is no escaping politics, but we can discover more effective ways to use it by studying Political Science.

Political Science is a broad discipline encompassing American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political philosophy, and law. It explores how individuals exercise power in group settings and the institutions, rules, and processes that are put in place to promote cooperation. Because of its broad character, Political Science overlaps with other disciplines including economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, communications, and criminal justice. A typical Political Science major will learn about democracy and other forms of government, styles of leadership, the ideas of Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke, the influence of non-governmental organizations in world politics, the formation of public opinion, the role of new social media in politics, and Constitutional law.

 

Why major in Political Science at UTSA?

The Political Science department at UTSA offers exciting courses from nationally and internationally recognized faculty that help students to understand current events in a larger context. Several professors have won university and statewide teaching awards. Classes are offered in the four major subfields of the discipline (American politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory and Public Law). Political Science students may also receive credit by taking courses in other programs housed within the department: Geography, Global Affairs, and Politics and Law.

Because of the broad nature of Political Science, majors develop a unique skill set that is quite attractive to employers and useful for any job:

  • Oral and written communication skills
  • An understanding of research methodologies and statistics
  • Critical and logical thinking skills
  • An ability to identify community needs and solutions
  • Knowledge about government laws, regulations, and processes
  • Insight into human behavior and organizational dynamics
  • Leadership and communication skills

The Department of Political Science offers students access to a number of opportunities that can increase their learning and job prospects, including study abroad programs to Europe, Mexico, and other parts of the world; internships in city and state government, law firms, non-profit and community groups, and businesses around San Antonio; participation in student groups such as the Model UN; and the opportunity to work closely with faculty in developing and writing an honors thesis.

 

What can you do with a Political Science degree?

Many students choose to study Political Science because they have want to pursue a political career in city, state, or national government, work in a community, governmental, or non-governmental organization, or attend law school. There are nonetheless a variety of career opportunities available to Political Science students.

Government Jobs

Almost 17 percent of all jobs in the United States are federal, state, or local government positions. Positions vary widely from city council representatives, communications directors, staffers to elected representatives, city planners, state or federal agency employees (environmental protection, education, etc.), and numerous other positions. Most government jobs have decent pay and excellent benefits (health care, retirement plans, etc.).

 

Community Advocacy and Political Entrepreneurs

Many Political Science graduates work in political fields outside the government. Some examples would include working for groups advocating for immigrant rights, stronger environmental protections, or greater individual liberties. There are millions of community and political advocacy groups across the United States. Each year some Political Science students also strike out on their own and establish new political organizations. Social media and new technological developments provide especially fertile grounds for political entrepreneurs.

 

International Organizations and NGOs

Political Science provides excellent preparation for work in the U.S. State Department, Foreign Service, and other agencies oriented toward foreign affairs. It is also prepares students for employment with the millions of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work around the world on issues in areas such as public health, economic development, political development, and security.

 

Policy Analysts

Policy analysts propose new public policies, regulations, and laws and assess the impact of existing ones. They may work in government agencies or for non-government organizations. Some businesses also employ policy analysts to study how regulations affect them and to propose changes to existing legislation.

 

Lobbyists and Government Liaisons

Lobbyists are individuals who work on behalf of businesses and other organizations (ranging from oil companies to environmental groups, the Chamber of Commerce to labor organizations, and even churches and charities) to persuade legislators to pass laws that would benefit their group. Lobbyists often function simply to alert law-makers to the ways in which some law or regulation might negatively affect some of their constituents. Many lobbyists begin work as staffers for elected officials and then move into private careers. Government liaison specialists work for companies to manage relations with governmental agencies and ensure compliance with government regulations.

 

Legal Careers

Many Political Science students go on to law school and enter into legal careers. Some go to work for the government as district attorneys, judges, or military lawyers or in government agencies such as the FBI or IRS. Many go into private practice. Some work for large corporate firms or for NGOs. 

 

Business Careers

Not everyone who wants to go into business needs a business degree. In fact, there are many advantages for those who want to work in business to studying Political Science. Political Science equips students with an understanding of the political institutions and laws that govern all businesses function. It also sharpens students’ understanding of organizational dynamics and human relations, and hones their writing, communication, and statistical skills. A degree in Political Science can lead to a career in banking, advertising, human relations, multinational corporations, international trading companies, and private contractors with links to government, among other business fields.

 

Teaching

Because most Political Scientists are interested in people and in many cases want to improve society, many tend to gravitate toward teaching. A Political Science degree provides excellent background for teaching a variety of different topics. A graduate degree or Ph.D. is necessary to teach at the college level. Students with a B.A. in Political Science can apply for accelerated teaching degree programs in Texas (usually one year) in order to be qualified to teach in public junior high and high schools. Students with a degree in Political Science can also go directly into teaching at private schools and charter schools.

 

Graduate School

Political Science majors at UTSA have been accepted into some of the top graduate programs in the country in Political Science, Public Policy, History, and other related fields. Some have pursued PhDs, which generally require four or more years of additional study. Others have pursued Master’s degrees in Political Science, Public Policy, or related fields, which usually take two years. Graduate degrees provide students with an opportunity to develop a specialization in some area of Political Science, and can open up new employment opportunities.

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Department of Political Science and Geography

University of Texas at San Antonio

College of Liberal and Fine Arts

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San Antonio, TX 78249-1644