ttu logo

tennessee technological university

Sociology and Political Science

The Political Science program within the Department of Sociology and Political Science offers a variety of academic courses, all of which are consistent with the missions of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences in the areas of instruction, research, technology, and service.

The Political Science curriculum is informally divided into the following subfields:

American government
Public law
International relations
Comparative politics
Political institutions
Political theory
State and local government

The political science program is at the undergraduate level and leads to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Students can complete the general Political Science degree or choose to complete a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Legal Studies, International Relations and Comparative Government, or International Relations and Comparative Government with an International Focus. The department also offers a variety of professional development opportunities for political science majors. Majors will have the opportunities to intern with a variety of local, state, and national political organizations and agencies, to take part in TTU's independent Pre-Law program, and take part in various activities such Model United Nations and Moot Court competitions.

According to the American Political Science Association,

Political science is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior. Political science subfields include political theory, political philosophy, political ideology, political economy, policy studies and analysis, comparative politics, international relations, and a host of related fields... Political scientists use both humanistic and scientific perspectives and tools and a variety of methodological approaches to examine the process, systems, and political dynamics of all countries and regions of the world.

Major Fields of Study

American Government and Politics
Comparative Politics
International Relations/ International Politics
Law and Courts
Political Institutions
Political Philosophy
Public Law and Policy
Public Administration


Advanced industrial Societies
Regional Politics
Civil Rights and Liberties
Conflict Processes
Constitutional Law
Criminal Justice
Developing Nations
Economic Policy
Education Policy
Electoral Behavior
Electoral Systems
Energy Policy
Ethnic Politics
Evaluation Research
Feminist Theory
Foreign Policy
Gay and Lesbian Politics
Gender Politics and Policy
Health Care Policy
Historical Political Thought
History and Politics
Housing Policy
Immigration Policy
International Law
International Organizations
International Political Economy
International Security
Judicial Politics
Labor Policy
Leadership Studies
Literature and Politics
Political Behavior
Political Communication
Political Development
Political Economy
Political Parties and Organizations
Political Psychology
Public Finance and Budget
Public Opinion
Regulatory Policy
Religion and Politics
Science and Technology
Social Movements
Social Welfare Policy
State Politics
Trade Policy
Urban Politics
Women and Politics

The following information came directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Quick Facts: Political Scientists

2012 Median Pay

$102,000 per year
$49.04 per hour

Entry-Level Education

Master’s degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2012


Job Outlook, 2012-22

21% (Faster than average)

Employment Change, 2012-22


What Political Scientists Do

Political scientists advise governments, businesses, or organizations on political issues.

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems. They research political ideas and analyze governments, policies, political trends, and related issues.


Political scientists typically do the following:

Research political subjects, such as the U.S. political system, relations between the United States and foreign countries, and political ideologies

    Collect and analyze data from sources such as public opinion surveys and election results

    Use qualitative sources, such as historical documents, to develop theories

    Use quantitative methods, such as statistical analysis, to test theories

    Evaluate the effects of policies and laws on government, businesses, and people

    Monitor current events, policy decisions, and other issues relevant to their work

    Forecast political, economic, and social trends

    Present research results by writing reports, giving presentations, and publishing articles

Political scientists usually conduct research within one of four primary subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory.

Often, political scientists use qualitative methods in their research, gathering information from numerous sources. For example, they may use historical documents to analyze past government structures and policies.

Political scientists also rely heavily on quantitative methods to develop and research theories. For example, they may analyze data to see whether a relationship exists between a certain political system and a particular outcome. In so doing, political scientists can study topics such as U.S. political parties, how political structures differ among countries, globalization, and the history of political thought.

Political scientists also work as policy analysts. In this position, they may work for a variety of organizations that have a stake in policy, such as government, labor, and political organizations. They also evaluate current policies and events using public opinion surveys, economic data, and election results. From these sources, they can learn the expected impact of new policies.

Work Environment

Political scientists held about 6,600 jobs in 2012. About half worked for the federal government. Others worked for think tanks, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, political lobbying groups, and labor organizations.

Work Schedules

Political scientists work full time in an office. They may work overtime to finish reports and meet deadlines.

Job Outlook

Employment of political scientists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,400 new jobs over the 10-year period. Political scientists should face strong competition for jobs as the number of candidates is expected to exceed the number of available positions.

Political scientists often research the specific effects of government policies on a particular region or population, both domestically and internationally. In doing so, they can examine how a particular policy affects a social group, economy, or environment. They provide information and analysis that help in planning, developing, or carrying out policies.

Many people with a political science background become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers.

How to Become a Political Scientist

Political scientists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. in political science, public administration, or a related field.


Jobseekers with a bachelor’s degree in political science usually qualify for entry-level positions in many related fields. Some qualify for entry-level positions as research assistants for research organizations, political campaigns, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. Many go into fields outside of politics and policymaking, such as business or law.

Most political scientists need to complete either a master’s or Ph.D. program. To be admitted to a graduate program, applicants should complete undergraduate courses in political science, writing, and statistics. Applicants also benefit from having related work or internship experience. Working in an internship on a congressional staff or for a research organization will help applicants gain experience writing, researching, analyzing data, or working with policy issues.

Political scientists often complete a master of public administration (MPA), master of public policy (MPP), or master of public affairs degree. These programs usually combine several disciplines, and students can choose to concentrate in a specific area of interest. Most offer core courses in research methods, policy formation, program evaluation, and statistics. Some colleges and universities also offer master’s degrees in political science, international relations, or other applied political science specialties.

Political scientists can also complete a Ph.D. program, which requires several years of coursework followed by independent research for a dissertation. Most Ph.D. candidates choose to specialize in one of four primary subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory.

Political scientists who teach at colleges and universities need a Ph.D. Graduates with a master’s degree in political science sometimes become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers.

Other Experience

Jobseekers who have earned a bachelor’s degree can benefit from internships or volunteer work when looking for entry-level positions in political science or a related field. They give students a chance to apply their academic knowledge in a professional setting and develop skills needed for the field.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Political scientists often use qualitative and quantitative research methods. They rely on their analytical skills when they collect, evaluate, and interpret data.

Critical-thinking skills. Political scientists must be able to examine and process available information and draw logical conclusions from their findings.

Intellectual curiosity. Political scientists must continually explore new ideas and information to produce original papers and research. They must stay current on political subjects and come up with new ways to think about and address issues.

Writing skills. Writing skills are essential for those who write papers on political issues. They must be able to convey their research results clearly.