Career Development

How To Become a Political Science Professor: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a political science professor, including education, skills, salary and more.

Political science professors teach students about government and politics. They typically have a PhD in political science or a related field, and they use their research and writing skills to prepare lectures and publish papers. If you are interested in becoming a political science professor, it is important to know the steps to take to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss the steps you need to take to become a political science professor, including the education and experience required.

What Does a Political Science Professor Do?

Political science professors conduct research on topics related to government and politics, then teach their findings to students at the collegiate level. They typically specialize in a specific area of political science, such as American politics or international relations. Political science professors typically have the following duties:

  • Conducting research on various topics related to government and politics
  • Writing papers and books based on their research findings
  • Teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses in political science
  • Advising students on their coursework and thesis projects
  • Serving on committees related to departmental or university governance
  • Presenting their research findings at conferences
  • Participating in public forums and debates on political issues
  • Staying up-to-date on current events and developments in the field of political science

Political Science Professor Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a political science professor is $68,327.11. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the professor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for political science professors to grow at an average rate over the next decade. This is due in part to an increase in the number of students enrolling in college. As the student population grows, so does the demand for qualified political science professors.

How to Become a Political Science Professor

Here are several steps you should take to become a political science professor.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in political science or a related field

Most political science professors hold a bachelor’s degree in political science. However, some schools offer a major or minor in political science for students who want to pursue this career path but aren’t sure if they want to go on to earn a doctorate.

If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate program in political science, it can be helpful to take courses that will help you decide whether you want to focus your studies on American politics, international relations or another subfield of the field.

2. Complete a doctoral program in political science

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to doctoral programs in political science. These programs typically last four years and include coursework and research focused on a specific area of political science such as international relations or American politics.

During your first year of a doctoral program, you will take general courses in political science that are common across all areas of the field. In your second and third years, you will focus on one particular area of study. During your final year, you will complete an internship at a government agency or non-profit organization and write a dissertation based on your internship experience.

3. Gain experience teaching at the college level

Most political science professors hold a doctoral degree, so you will need to complete your graduate program before gaining teaching experience. However, some colleges and universities hire bachelor’s degree holders to teach introductory courses in political science or serve as tutors or teaching assistants.

Working as an instructor at the college level can help you gain experience working with students and develop your teaching skills. It can also help you decide whether you want to focus on research or teaching when pursuing a career as a political science professor.

4. Develop strong research skills

As a political science professor, you will need to conduct research and cite your sources in order to share the most up-to-date information with your students. You may also need to use primary sources such as government documents or historical texts when researching certain topics.

You can develop your research skills by taking classes on research methods and citation practices during your undergraduate studies. During your graduate program, you will likely take courses that teach you how to find scholarly literature and evaluate its credibility.

5. Publish scholarly articles in political science journals

While a political science professor may not need to publish scholarly articles in order to get hired, it is important for them to continue publishing throughout their career. This helps them stay up to date on the latest research and developments in the field of political science.

It can also be beneficial for professors to have multiple publications in well-known journals. These can help them gain tenure at colleges or universities. Tenure ensures that professors will keep their jobs even if they don’t receive positive evaluations from students or colleagues.

6. Stay up to date on changes in the field of political science

As a political science professor, you need to stay up to date on the latest developments in your field. This can help you keep current with new research and ensure that you’re teaching students the most relevant information for their future careers.

You can do this by reading scholarly articles and books about political science and following experts in the field. You may also choose to attend conferences or seminars where you can network with other political science professors and learn from their experiences.

7. Join professional organizations such as the American Political Science Association

The American Political Science Association (APSA) is a professional organization for political science professors and other professionals in the field of political science. Membership in APSA can help you stay up to date on developments in the field, connect with colleagues and find employment opportunities.

To join APSA as an associate member, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree in political science or a related field. To become a full member, you need to have earned a doctorate in political science or a closely related field.


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