Political Science

What is Political Science?

According to the Department of Political Science: The Department offers a balanced program, emphasizing the integration of theory and practice rather than any single approach or methodology.  Our program encourages students to define and analyze fundamental political concepts such as equality, freedom, justice, and civic obligation from a range of perspectives. Course work in political science provides the opportunity to understand and compare major political institutions, public policies, and the relationships among them as they operate in different national and international contexts.  Students will learn to explain the factors influencing individual-level political attitudes and behavior, and use and evaluate statistical and other types of evidence in analyses and arguments.

The Department offers numerous seminars and lecture courses for undergraduates.  We also offer opportunities for individual, supervised study through independent reading/research courses and honors theses. Students also have the opportunity to gain practical experience through internships.

Students majoring in political science choose one area of primary concentration, while also taking courses in other areas.  Classes in political science are organized into four subfields:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory

The major prepares students with a bachelor's degree in political science for careers in teaching, law, policy development and implementation, business, teaching, and work in governmental and non-governmental organizations.  We encourage those considering course work in political science to contact our undergraduate advising office.*

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Political Science?

To the inquisitive mind, questions arise about the interplay between local and national politics, between close and distant international governments, between developing and developed countries – just in reading the daily newspaper. For the student whose curiosity is piqued over how to maximize their political capital to influence preferred outcomes in local, regional, national, or international settings then studying political science would be a fulfilling major. Studying political science is excellent pre-professional training for government service as well as for careers in foreign affairs, law, business, and journalism, among others. It is also the best preparation for students wanting to pursue graduate work in political science.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

International Relations
Public Service
Mexican Politics
Theories of Comparative Politics
Politics and Literature
Democracy and Diversity
Courts, Judges and Politics
National Security
American Foreign Policy
Globalization and Politics
Voting and Elections
Public Opinion
Sexuality, State Power, and the Military
Criminal Justice

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Political Science majors with a strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in hundreds of fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Ambassador, Political Advisor, Foreign Service Officer/
Specialist, Intelligence Specialist, Elected Public
Official, Public Administrator, Urban & Regional
Planner, Researcher, and Budget Analyst…
Campaigns & Polling:
Campaign Manager/Consultant, Press Officer for
Candidate, Political Reporter, Pollster, Fundraiser,
Survey Researcher…
Nonprofit Organizations:
Field Officer of Human Rights Campaign, Public
Relations Specialist, Fund Raising Director, Research
Analyst, Program Manager, Lobbyist…
Paralegal, Mediator, Attorney, Politician, Public
Interest/Consumer Advocate…
Writer/Editor, Producer, Television Reporter, Press
Officer, Public Affairs Research Analyst…
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn


Graduate and Professional Schools

Let GradSchools.com find programs according to location ad by schools.

Graduate Guide
A comprehensive guide to graduate programs of study including Doctoral, Master's and Professional Degree Programs.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Experience Search Strategies

Jobs in Federal Government
Federal Employment Information System Daily updates of job openings in the Federal Government with full text vacancy announcements for most Federal jobs, plus summary information on a wide variety of Federal employment-related topics and programs.

American Political Science Association
Provides political science employment opportunities and a placement interview service for APSA members. It Also provides internship and career opportunities links.

City of Santa Barbara
Local Santa Barbara government employment information regarding employment listings, hiring information, job descriptions, salary information, benefits, and information to receive typing certification.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section 
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers By Majors and Diversity.

Professional Associations

American Political Science Association
Brings together political scientists from all fields of inquiry, religions and occupational endeavors in order to expand their awareness and understanding of political life.

Social Science Libraries
Yale University lists different associations, organizations, and institutes affiliated with Political Science.

The Law and Society Association
Interdisciplinary and international group of scholars with an interest in the place law holds in social, political, economic and cultural life. Publishes the Law & Society Review, sponsors annual conferences and educational workshops, and fosters the development of academic programs in law and society around the world.

Southwestern Political Science Association
Purpose is to promote, cultivate and correlate the various areas of the social sciences and their applications through the encouragement of research, program meetings, and the publication and dissemination of information and opinion.

UCSB Resources