Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Political Science is the academic study of governments, public policies, political behavior, and collective decision making. Its scope includes governance in the non-profit and private sectors, and in international affairs.

Penn State Harrisburg’s Political Science program major offers a flexible learning opportunity that students can tailor to their own interests and career goals while acquiring broadly employable skills for careers is a variety of fields. The program prepares students to exercise responsibilities of citizenship and leadership in a pluralistic democratic society, and as global citizens. Faculty teaching in the program have international background and bring a variety of academic and practical perspectives to the program.

Build Your Concentration to Maximize Employable Skills

Foundational courses provide an opportunity to understand not only U.S. federal, state, and local governments, but also the political systems of other nations and the philosophies that underlie them; further, students learn about political theory, collective decision making, comparative and international politics, and methodology for policy analysis. In the further course of the program, students are able to build their own individual focus area of studies, or follow one of the following recommended concentrations. Those possible concentrations include:

  • Governmental Affairs and Public Service Careers  
  • U.S. Political Institutions and Processes
  • Policy Analysis and Governance Studies
  • Pre-law
  • International Studies
  • Security Studies 

Comprehensive Learning Experience  

The Political Science program works in close connection with: 

  • Penn State Harrisburg Model United Nations, offering real-world like educational experience and leadership positions and professionalizing experience
  • Student Government Association, offering leadership positions and professionalizing experience on campus
  • Study abroad and international students office programs, offering additional learning opportunities for national careers that involve working with international partners, which is the standard today, and for genuinely international careers  
  • Penn State Harrisburg and its School of Public Affairs collaborate with Penn State’s new  Security Center for Research and Education

Career Opportunities

Many political scientists analyze and report on current events, much as do news analysts, reporters, and correspondents. Political scientists conduct surveys, study social problems, teach, and engage in urban and regional planning. They also work in the federal, state, and local government sector, in journalism, in business and industry, in non-governmental and non-profit organizations, as well as in foreign service careers and international organizations. Further, political scientists work in the education sector, in think tanks and research institutions, and in academic careers.

Many undergraduate Political Science majors also go on to law school. Others pursue M.A. or Ph.D. degrees.

Opportunities for Subsequent Graduate Study 

Upon successfully completing the program, students may qualify for admission to one of our graduate programs and seamlessly continue their academic journey with us in residential, hybrid, or fully online programs. Those for example include: 

  • Criminal Justice
  • Health Administration
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Administration.

Job Titles

Graduates of undergraduate Political Science programs have a wide variety of career titles, including: Policy Analyst, Budget Analyst, Campaign Manager, Community Organizer, Congressman, FBI agent, Foreign Service Officer, Human Resources Specialist, Intelligence Specialist, International Business Analyst, Lawyer, Legislative Director/Analyst, Lobbyist, Media Specialist, Interest Group Policy Analyst, Paralegal, Peace Corps Volunteer, Policy Advocate, Political Correspondent, Pollster, Researcher, State or Federal Agency Employee, State Legislator, Strategic Planning Consultant, Survey Researcher, Strategic Planner, United Nations Employee, Urban Policy Planner, and President of the United States.

Job Outlook

Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate a projected growth of 9% in jobs for political scientists between 2016 and 2026. The ability of our students to follow specific concentrations, including security and emergency management, further improves this job outlook as those areas also have growth rates in the dimension of 10%.     

The median annual wage for political scientists was $114,290 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Candidates who have specialized knowledge or experience in their field of interest will also have better job opportunities. Internships or volunteer work also may be helpful. Our program again contributes to both. 

More than half of all political scientists are employed by the federal government. Political scientists will continue to be needed in government to assess the impact of government policies, such as the efficiencies of public services, effects of departmental cuts, and advantages of proposed improvements. Political organizations, lobbying firms, and many nonprofit, labor, and social organizations rely on the knowledge of political scientists to manage complicated legal and regulatory issues and policies. Political scientists will be needed at research and policy organizations to focus specifically on politics and political theory. Organizations that research or advocate for specific causes, such as immigration, healthcare, or the environment, also need political scientists to analyze policies relating to their field.


Penn State Harrisburg’s proximity to the state capital provides many exciting opportunities for student internships in state agencies, the state legislature, and political organizations. Internships provide students with a realistic exposure to their future professional environment, provide academic credit, and increase chances for employment soon after graduation.
We offer the structured Harrisburg Semester internship program. Was well support individualized internships arranged by the student. Our close proximity to the state capital offers students a rich array of internship sites including the state legislature, state executive agencies, lobbying firms, trade associations, advocacy groups and economic development organizations, political campaigns, think-tanks and other organizations closely involved with policy-making in the state capital.

All students are encouraged to begin preparation for an internship upon admission into the Political Science major. Most internships are completed during the senior year. Students applying for internships must have completed 60 credits, have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average, have completed core course work, have demonstrated computer literacy, and have the permission of the internship coordinator. Additional information regarding internships may be obtained by contacting the School of Public Affairs’ Internship Coordinator Alison Shuler, B.S.