CAREERS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE ALUMNI
Why Study Political Science?
Our students study politics because they find it exciting—even if it is at times overwhelming. This is because our students are driven by a deep curiosity to understand the world and a desire to change it for the better. Take the current COVID-19 crisis, for example. Long after a vaccine will have marked the medical end of this crisis, political scientists will explore its broader implications. They will ask why some governments and healthcare systems responded more effectively than others; or why the economic fall-out affected some demographic groups or regions harder than others. They may also ask whether our interdependent global world order will remain sustainable in the future. This pandemic is neither the first nor the last crisis that political scientists will study. They have studied the causes and the political implications of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the political consequences of decolonization during the 1960s, the end of the Cold War, the political consequences of 9/11, the economic and political consequences of the 2008 global financial crisis, and the political consequences of rising socio-economic inequality and regional disparities in many parts of the world.
Studying politics is not only exciting. It is also pedagogically invaluable. As a discipline, it teaches students how to unpack complex phenomena into researchable questions; how to find and evaluate information; and how to figure out what happened. It shows students how to use theories, statistical techniques, and case study methods to test hypotheses. And above all, it requires students to synthesize information, write clearly and reason cogently. In short, if we manage to train our students to make sense of COVID 19 or any other crisis, they will be able to make sense of pretty much everything that their future lives or employers will throw their way. In this way, a political science degree will prepare our graduates for a wide variety of career options.
What Can You Do with a Political Science Degree?
The American Political Association put together an excellent overview of the different career paths that are open to political science majors.
The Political Science Department works closely with the Career Center, the Office for Undergraduate Advising, and the Internship Office to help our students gain professional experiences while in college, and to prepare them for their professional futures. Learn more about those resources and opportunities.
Some of the things we do to prepare our graduates for the future is to invite political science alumni to campus for career events. We also offer informational workshops about different career options, and we provide hands-on tutorials on applying to graduate or law schools. Our curriculum offers a wide array of courses for students interested in law school. It also offers a co-op style course in which students can study the research problems of nonprofit organizations, as well as a course that embeds students’ internships in an academic context. Political science is the ultimate liberal arts degree that has allowed many of our graduates to find employment in diverse professional careers.
The Federal Government provides many job opportunities for recent graduates. The jobs fall into two rough categories: career civil service jobs and Congressional jobs that are more directly involved in the actual political process.
Professor Deborah Seligsohn worked in the Foreign Service and the non-profit sector for over twenty years before joining our program. She provides an excellent overview of what sort of jobs are available, how to apply, and the most recent hiring development in the video below:
Civil Service Jobs:
- USA Jobs
- A guide to applying for jobs
- Pathways Program for current students and recent graduates
- State Department
- Peace Corps: Serving in the Peace Corps is a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, and have the experience of a lifetime, all while partnering with communities to make a difference. The video below provides more information about the volunteer experience and tips to help guide you through the application process:
- Idealist: A resource for finding internships in non-profits, both in the U.S. and internationally.
- Internships.com: A student-focused internship marketplace, bringing students, employers and higher education institutions together in one place.
- Global Jobs: A job listing site, including internships, for foreign affairs positions in NGOs, think tanks, government and the private sector.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Summer Internships: The Center seeks highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students (including law), as well as recent graduates, in the following areas for full-and occasionally part-time paid internships: Media, Federal Legislation, Health Policy, Housing Policy, Food Assistance, National Budget and Tax Policy, Outreach Campaigns, State Fiscal Project and Welfare Reform and Income Support Division (see internship descriptions).
- Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship programs bring the policy making process to life. The nation's capital serves as the backdrop for our internship programs that offer personal, educational, and leadership development.
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Summer Internship: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Program focuses on increasing Hispanic Students' awareness of the U.S. political system and enhancing their leadership skills.
- The Fund for American Studies: The Fund for American Studies runs several internship programs both in Washington DC and abroad throughout the year. During the DC programs, each student takes a class through George Mason University in addition to interning 30-35 hours per week at a government agency, Congressional office, policy group, think tank, media outlet or nonprofit organization.
- Ford Motor Company/Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) Leadership Program: This program offers a unique internship experience for students to develop their personal, educational, and leadership skills. Opportunities for students to gain exposure to the inner workings of the United States Congress, Federal Government, and Washington, D.C.-based think tanks and international institutions.
- Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities National Internship Program: This program offers internships to Hispanic students who attend institutions that enroll significant numbers of Hispanic students. Internships are offered in Washington D.C. as well as other locations throughout the country.
- Morris K. Udall Foundation Native American Summer Congressional Internship Program: This program is designed to provide Native American college students with experience in the legislative process, congressional matters, and governmental proceedings.
- National Academy of Social Insurance: The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), a non-profit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance, is uniquely qualified to provide students with challenging internship opportunities. These are nationally-competitive internships with a select number of placements made each year.
- Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) Junior Summer Institutes: The PPIA Junior Summer Institutes (JSI) have been the hallmark of the PPIA Fellowship Program for over 20 years. JSI is an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service.
- Pennsylvania House Fellowship: Based in Pennsylvania's State Capitol in Harrisburg, the 13-week program places undergraduate juniors and seniors, graduate students, and law school students attending Pennsylvania colleges or universities in the offices of Committee Chairmen or House Leaders. Pennsylvania residents are also eligible to participate in this program if they attend an out-of-state school.
- Virtual Student Federal Service: Through the VSFS, students can work on projects that advance the work of government on multiple fronts. Projects include helping counter violent extremism, strengthening human rights monitoring, developing virtual programs, engaging in digital communications, mapping, economic and political reporting, data analysis, graphic design, and app building. students can intern from wherever they are – from dorm rooms to libraries to coffee shops, or anywhere in the world with a broadband or Internet connection.
Below is a list of public policy consulting firms or management consulting firms with policy divisions:
- ICF International
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- Abt Associates
- Boston Consulting
- Price Waterhouse (PwC)
Public Policy Think Tanks and Foundations (note that some of these organizations have political leanings)
- Urban Institute
- Brookings Institute
- Center on Budget & Policy Priorities
- Pew Research Center
- Rockefeller Foundation
- American Enterprise Institute
- Heritage Foundation
- Peter J Peterson Foundation
- Annie E Casey Foundation
- Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Center for American Progress
- National Bureau of Economic Research
- Macarthur Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Graduation and Graduate School
Villanova’s Graduate Programs in Political Science trains students as analytical social scientists and educates them about the broader underpinnings and implications of politics. It is ideal for those who want to deepen their interest in political science to pursue new career directions. We have assisted students in finding such careers and expanding their educational foundations to help them grow professionally for years to come.
In his doctoral studies, Joseph Lasky ’19 CLAS is continuing his focus on political science at Cornell University. Joseph hopes to pursue his doctoral research on ethnicity, nationalism and conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Another recent graduate, Kathleen Smith ’13 CLAS is a management consultant in Washington, D.C. She has worked in support of the United States Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and currently supports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her work includes qualitative analysis, human capital facilitation, and project management.