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Career Opportunities for Political Science Students

Why study Political Science?

If you have any doubt about this program, it may be because you have heard that studying politics is only about preparing you to get involved in politics. For some who are unfamiliar with our academic discipline, political science may even be a dirty word.

You should be aware of this misperception. Few students who study to become political scientists become politicians. This does not mean that they should not consider this career option if that is their passion. The point is that those who study political science get the type of training that prepares them for numerous job opportunities.

As a student of politics, you learn more about how to become a thinker and a professional than many jobs require; above all else, you learn to become an active and responsible citizen. The world-renowned Greek philosopher Aristotle described politics as the “queen of the sciences". For us, the scientific/systematic study of politics is not simply about understanding and exercising power and authority. As citizens - national and perhaps global - we also learn about our democratic rights and how to hold leaders accountable for what they do. The study of politics is thus not simply about turning you into a politician but more about teaching you to become a critical thinker, which, in turn, prepares you for a large variety of promising career options.

Career options include those in the federal, provincial, and local governments whose institutions include the executive, legislative and judicial branches, civil society organizations, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector. Political science graduates who are business-minded can even start or join businesses in various fields. If working for the private sector is your goal, all you need to do is supplement your Political Science Major with courses in economics, business, accounting, mathematics, and statistics or you can pursue a double degree in Political Science and Business or Economics.

Political Science students have the advantage of learning and knowing about government policies, rules and regulations - knowledge that is increasingly important in today's business world. Do you know that political science graduates have even chosen careers in personnel, marketing, advising, banking, finance, and public relations? With some work experience, you may also find yourself able to work in both the private and public sectors.

One thing you should keep in mind is that your future employer will likely be looking for people who can do the following:

  • communicate clearly, present ideas persuasively (orally or in writing)
  • know how to research/find information and come up with new ideas by applying or building theories and adopting innovative methods
  • argue and debate constructively and respectfully
  • negotiate and mediate conflicts successfully
  • plan, make decisions and implement them effectively
  • provide effective leadership

The study of political science can equip you with all these skills.

Our Political Science program offers courses in five exciting fields: Global Politics; Political Thought; Law, Public Policy and Administration; Canadian and Comparative Politics; and City and Community Politics. You can develop a general knowledge of political science and then specialize in some of the fields that are of most interest to you and that can help you realize your career dreams. You can explore different perspectives on politics at different levels and then become equipped to develop your own.

Our faculty foster a tolerant learning environment where different views and perspectives are respected while, at the same time, placed under scrutiny. Our students are encouraged to question and critique what they hear and read; they are empowered to think constructively and creatively.

Our students are exposed to different ideas and diverse views expressed by political and community leaders and scholars from other academic institutions. In the past, our guest speakers have included:  Bob Rae (the national Liberal Party's interim leader and former premier of Ontario) who spoke on “Democracy - Promoting It Abroad and Protecting It At Home,” The Hon. Douglas Roche who lectured on “World Without Nuclear Weapons," Mr. Tom Mulcair (candidate for the federal NDP leadership contest and now NDP leader), Dr. David McNally (York University, Toronto) who made a presentation on "Global Crisis, Global Resistance", John Ibbitson, political columnist for the Globe & Mail, who spoke about his biography on former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

In short, Political Science students learn about how politics permeates almost every aspect of our lives, how to pursue knowledge and career dreams, and how, as responsible and active citizens, to make a positive difference in our world. If you have any questions about our program, do not hesitate to contact the Department Chair, who is always happy to meet with students.

More on career opportunities....

Most students think that a Political Science degree means you want to be a politician, but it can also lead to many other exciting careers. Here are just a few:

  • Journalist (Margo Goodhand, Paul Samyn and Bruce Owen from the Winnipeg Free Press all got their Political Science degrees here at the U of W!)
  • Research analyst or Policy analysis (Many of our students go on to get an MPA, and then begin work with the federal and provincial government doing research and policy analysis.)
  • Senior bureaucrat, including Deputy Minister
  • Researcher in private companies
  • Member of Canada's diplomatic and foreign services
  • Government worker, including customs officer and employment insurance officer
  • City planner
  • Non-government organizations (NGO’s) such as the West-End Biz, the Elizabeth Fry Society and Greenpeace
  • Police officer
  • Social worker
  • Community activist
  • Electoral returning officer
  • Constituency office worker
  • Program manager
  • Project officer
  • Communications officer with a government organization

An undergraduate degree in Political Science also provides you with the basics for a number of advanced degrees including Law; many lawyers begin with a Political Science degree. And, of course, with an MA and PhD, you can become a Professor and teach Political Science at a University or College.