BA vs. BS in political science: Careers you can pursue with each

January 10, 2023 · 6 min read · By ASU Online
Learn about the differences between BA and BS in political science degrees, potential careers for political science majors and the online bachelor’s degrees that can prepare you for them.

Political science is the study of how citizens interact with their governments and how governments at all levels formulate policies to serve their citizens. A political science degree builds crucial skills, from democratic leadership to international politics.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science can prepare you for an array of career opportunities, such as a role in politics, non-profit work, law and more.


BA vs. BS in political science: Comparing the two

  • A BA in political science covers many aspects of political science and government, including the creation and review of policy, different forms of government, and diplomatic relations between governments. In addition, a BA in political science will have a foreign language requirement, which can be useful for students who are particularly interested in the international aspects of policy.
  • A BS in political science is similar, but has a few crucial differences. Unlike a BA, a BS in political science doesn’t have a foreign language requirement. Instead, the program focuses on statistics, data and mathematical literacy as applied in political contexts. If you’re interested in data-driven political policy, a BS in political science might be helpful.


Careers for graduates with a BA in political science

Your BA degree gives you insight into the inner workings of government, both from an American perspective and an international one.

Here are some examples of careers that a BA in political science can help you pursue:

  • Nonprofit and campaign work

If you want to be involved in the bread and butter of political life, nonprofit and campaign work may provide the right career opportunities for you. You can work for a nonprofit that focuses on interests you value and help advocate for them at different levels of government.

If you prefer a fast-paced environment with a focus on a single office of government, consider campaign work at the state, local or national level. In working for a single candidate's campaign, you can get up close and personal with the electoral process. And if your candidate wins, you may get a job on their staff during their term. Depending on your experiences, campaign work and a subsequent staff position may even inspire you to run for office yourself.

  • Foreign service

If the international relations aspect of political science interests you, consider a career in the foreign service. This can include working as a diplomat, foreign policy analyst or translator, or working for an international organization, such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

A career in the foreign service can lead to opportunities for international travel. However, for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are many foreign service related occupations, such as policy analysis, that don't require you to travel extensively.


Careers for graduates with a BS in political science

In a BS in political science program, you’ll learn about politics and government from an analytical, data-driven perspective, with an emphasis on statistics. You’ll also hone your mathematical and data comprehension abilities, which can give you an advantage in applying for jobs in the public and private sectors.

Here are some examples of potential career paths for graduates with a BS in political science.

  • Business analysis

Business analysts work with data on a company's past, current and potential future practices to determine the best course of action for the company to take. Business analysis is another field that can be entered directly out of your bachelor's program, though you may want to pursue further education down the line.

Management analysts had a median salary of $93,000 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment for management analysts is expected to grow 11% between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations according to the BLS.

  • Data science

Data science is an occupation that’s gotten a lot of attention over the past few years for its fast growth rate and high-paying job opportunities. Data scientists work in a variety of fields, particularly the tech sector, to gather data, analyze it, make it accessible to those with less technical knowledge and help them utilize it as best they can.

A BS in political science program teaches you the skills needed to gather and interpret large sets of data. The median salary for data scientists was $100,910 in 2021 according to the BLS. Employment of data scientists is expected to grow 36% between 2021 and 2031 — far faster than the average rate for all occupations, per the BLS.


Careers for graduates of either degree

While there are key differences between a BA and BS in political science, there are also many important similarities. As such, there are many overlapping career opportunities for graduates who have either a BA or BS in political science.

Some examples include the following.

  • Law

Following your bachelor’s in political science degree with a graduate JD degree in law is an option if you’re interested in this path. The field of law has much in common with political science; both require a firm grasp of logic and human behavior as well as the ability to see an issue from multiple perspectives.

Lawyers are also in high demand, and they often make lucrative salaries. According to the BLS, lawyers had a median salary of $127,990 in 2021, and the number of job openings is projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031. With this in mind, it's no surprise that top law schools in the U.S. can be extremely competitive, but political science degrees are a good choice of major for law school applicants.

  • Policy analysis

The public and private sectors can make use of policy analysts who study the potential and actual impacts of governmental policies. Policy analysis makes use of statistical data, surveys, interviews and more to produce reports that federal, state and local governments, or private entities, can use to inform their decisions.

The BLS reports that political scientists, the category policy analysis falls under, received a median salary of $122,510 in 2021 and may benefit from a master's degree in political science or a related field (like a master's degree in public policy) following their undergraduate studies.


Earn your political science degree online from Arizona State University

ASU Online offers both a BA and BS in political science.

  • The online Bachelor of Arts in political science pairs the development of reasoning and critical thinking skills with a curriculum focused on policy, public issues and citizens’ interactions with government. You’ll learn about local, national and international political concerns as you earn this degree.
  • ASU Online’s Bachelor of Science in political science focuses on the relationship between citizens and their governments. You’ll build an in-depth understanding of how political theory and policy connect to practical issues, and develop skills that are applicable in business, politics, government and nonprofit careers.

Everything you need to know about ASU Online classes and degree programs

We’ve compiled what you need to know about online classes and degree programs at Arizona State University. Read on to learn all about what to expect from the ASU Online learning experience.


About ASU Online

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