Political Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's or doctoral degree in political management? Find out the requirements for a master's or PhD degree program in political management and the related topic of political science, the coursework involved, and the careers you will be prepared for upon graduation.
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Studying Political Management: Degrees at a Glance

A Master of Professional Studies in Political Management prepares you to work in a wide variety of career fields, such as election campaign management, lobbying, fundraising, government relations, and non-profit or advocacy work. Depending on your area of concentration, you may learn about political leadership, public policy or grassroots organization.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in political management are rare; instead, most schools offer a PhD in Political Science. Completing a political science doctoral degree program can lead to careers in education, scientific research or policy. These degree programs usually focus on a specific career track, but some are offered as a dual degree in which you earn a master's in business administration and a PhD in Political Science.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? Students interested in politics, campaigns and political systems Students wanting to gain a competitive edge for employment
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Social science research assistant ($43,000)*
-Local government political employee ($45,000)*
-Community college political science teacher ($68,000)*
-Scientific researcher and developer ($102,000)*
-College political science professor ($84,000)*
-Federal executive branch employee ($114,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full time 3-5 years study after earning a master's degree
Common Graduation Requirements-Approximately 36 course credit hours
-400 hours of fieldwork
-Approximately 54 credit hours
-96 credit hours of coursework for a dual MBA/PhD program
-Teaching an undergraduate course
-Written or oral preliminary and final exams
Prerequisites -Bachelor's degree
-Background working in political science
-Master's degree
Online Availability Yes Limited and usually includes a fieldwork component

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011).

Master's Degree in Political Management

A graduate of a Master of Professional Studies in Political Management degree program can pursue a wide variety of careers. Graduates can work for trade organizations, special interest groups, political action committees, grassroots organizations, non-profit corporations, political parties, labor unions or as congressional staffers. Some even serve as elected public officials.

Political management graduates should expect strong job competition in future years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected slower-than-average growth for political scientists, 8%, during 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). Additionally, careers in politics are limited to only a few concentrated areas throughout the nation, possibly making finding employment even more difficult.

Pros and Cons


  • Having a master's degree in the field may make finding employment in politics easier
  • Growing public interest in political issues and advocacy makes fieldwork requirements more applicable to future employment
  • Offered areas of concentration may coincide with the needs of specialized research organizations, increasing employment chances


  • May not prepare graduates for higher-level jobs
  • Students lacking significant amounts of work experience in political science may be required to complete additional fieldwork hours
  • Fieldwork hours do not count towards credit hour requirements, resulting in a dense program

Courses and Requirements

Coursework in a political management master's degree program varies according to the chosen specialization. Commonly offered specializations include advanced political skills, electoral politics, and advocacy politics. Regardless of specialization, all students must complete 18 credit hours of core courses and 18 credit hours of study in their chosen focus. Core courses include:

  • Fundamentals of political management
  • Research methods for political managers
  • Communications elements and strategies
  • Ethics for political managers
  • Political leadership

Online Degree Options

Master's degree programs in political management are available online, but are rare. These programs typically contain the same coursework requirements as on-campus programs, but fieldwork components must be completed in person.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out with this degree, consider completing coursework in how to use the database and other technology commonly used in politics, for example policy assessment software programs. Being knowledgeable about the software systems, phone systems and other computer components that are used in elections or day-to-day politics may make you more attractive to employers.

PhD in Political Science

A doctoral degree in political science is designed for students interested in pursuing teaching at a university or for those aspiring to a career in politics, corporate leadership or political consulting. Many PhD programs are in offered in conjunction with a master's degree program, and students are required to first complete the master's degree program before progressing to the PhD program. However, some programs have a dual degree option, allowing candidates to receive a master's in business administration simultaneously with a PhD in Political Science. This option allows for greater marketability in a competitive job market.

Pros and Cons


  • Program curriculum may better prepare individuals to handle complex legal and regulatory issues
  • Can give professionals an upper edge when running for political office
  • May lead to increased employment opportunities by preparing graduates for higher level positions


  • Cutbacks in federal government expenditures may decrease employment opportunities, regardless of degree earned
  • The popularity of political science programs at universities is declining, creating more qualified professor candidates than are needed
  • Funding for political science endeavors may be cut due to surplus of professors

Courses and Requirements

Both singular and dual degree programs require completion of 96 credit hours of study, as well as oral and written examinations and writing a dissertation. Some programs also require that students teach an undergraduate course. Courses include:

  • Foundations of public policy
  • Policy methods
  • American politics and policy
  • Transnational and comparative politics and policy

Online Degree Options

Online PhD programs in political management are limited. Typically, these programs focus on a specific area of study, such as public policy or administration. Online programs often have both a fieldwork component and an on-campus requirement.

Stand Out with this Degree

To stand out in the competitive job market, consider obtaining a dual degree. Having more than one degree or more than one area of study may make you more attractive to employers.

Additionally, joining a professional organization, such as the American Political Science Association, can allow you to network with other professionals in the field. This networking may lead to more employment opportunities.

Also consider specializing in a technological aspect of political science. Completing classes in how to use computer programs to conduct quantitative policy analysis or create budgets may better prepare you to work in higher-level positions.

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