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What Is Political Science All About?

The phrase “political science” implies the field focuses narrowly on the study of politics. Yet, political science is broad, incorporating aspects of many disciplines. Political science also has a wide range of applications in numerous industries, intersecting with diverse fields of study.

The online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science program from Arkansas State University (A-State) reflects the field’s breadth. The comprehensive studies can prepare students various public and private sector professions, such as careers in public service, diplomacy, law and more. Graduates will gain in-demand skills in critical thinking, communication, negotiation, political analysis and relationship-building.

What Does the Field of Political Science Encompass?

The American Political Science Association (APSA) defines political science as “the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior.” Political science is an integrative field of study, combining qualitative and quantitative research, theory and analysis from myriad disciplines.

Political science scholarship may incorporate subjects like government, legal and electoral systems, political dynamics, policymaking, international relations, economics, psychology and history, to name a few. Political science encompasses a great deal, and students in the field can explore many interests and passions, tailoring their education to a wide array of professional and personal pursuits.

How Do Private Sector Industries Intersect With Political Science?

Politics and policy involve nearly every aspect of the modern human experience, from personal interactions to public opinion, the justice system, global business and trade. Private sector business groups have a stake in the political and legislative processes that affect business regulations, operations and the bottom line. Given this, political science is woven into every industry in one way or another.

For instance, environmental policy, international relations and trade agreements directly impact logistics operations, supply chain management and global market penetration, to name a few. Labor laws impact human resource management, budgeting and international team development. Emerging data privacy regulations affect the use of data analytics to drive consumer engagement and manage customer relations. Legislative antitrust efforts may change the landscape of modern e-commerce.

In a globalized, data-driven and interconnected world, politics affects all essential components of business operations, management and success in nearly all fields — from car manufacturers to software and technology developers, apparel companies to mom-and-pop restaurants.

This is not to say that private sector regulations are inherently negative for industries. Consumers demand much from the businesses they support through demonstrated value alignment, corporate social responsibility, data privacy and environmentally sound practices. Forward-looking companies adapt to customer demands and potential regulations proactively. They analyze trends in public opinion and legislative movement, enacting organizational and operational changes accordingly.

Political science professionals are ideal for accomplishing this complex analysis of public opinion, policy and regulatory development. Businesses rely on these professionals’ advice to make strategic decisions that shape their organizations’ future. Hence, political science experts can pursue fascinating careers as policy and public opinion analysts, advisors and business consultants in various industries.

What About “Traditional” Applications of Political Science?

There is also great variety in what might be considered traditional political science work. Political scientists may work for lobbyist groups, interest groups, human rights organizations or public policy think tanks. Professionals in these environments may research and analyze policy and public opinion or influence policymaking and legislation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public administration, public affairs and public service are also logical applications of political science knowledge and skills. A professional’s goal may be to shape legislation and represent the public in elected office. Or they may wish to impact people’s lives and political dynamics through administration or analyst roles in nonprofits or nongovernmental organizations.

Political scientists may also go on to study specialized facets of the field in graduate and post-graduate work. Further studies may focus on the intersection of politics, policy and numerous social issues surrounding factors like race, gender, sexuality, religion and more.

Clearly, political science is not a narrow field. The study of political science imparts a depth of ethics, research, analysis and critical-thinking skills focused on policies and dynamics that impact every aspect of society. This educational background can be invaluable in numerous professional environments, offering students of political science a great deal of versatility in the pursuit of captivating careers.

Learn more about A-State’s online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program.

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