What Is the Best Degree for Getting Into Politics?

No specific degree or professional licensure is necessary to become a politician or other political professional. As such, there is no one degree that is the “best” for a career in politics. Politicians, staffers, speechwriters, consultants, campaign managers, lobbyists and government agency employees all serve political functions. However, as far as their jobs are concerned, that is where the similarities end. People with different skill sets are attracted to different types of political career paths. With that in mind, here is a short list of the best undergraduate degrees for getting into politics:

Political Science

This is the most obvious choice for an aspiring political professional. A political science degree will likely include coursework in American government, comparative politics, political theory and philosophy, political behavior, international relations and public policy. These courses will provide students with a solid academic understanding of the national and international political sphere.

History

History is a discipline that requires excellent research skills and the ability to analyze primary source materials to make an argument. A history degree will prepare students to perform policy- or campaign-related research and write clear, concise memoranda. Students with a history background are also likely to be familiar with historical political trends and the effectiveness of past political strategies as well as how this information can be applied to the issues at hand.

Economics

As James Carville, who was the lead strategist on then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, astutely observed, arguably the most important topic in political discourse is “the economy, stupid.” Students with economics degrees will be well prepared for work in numbers-driven agencies, departments and think tanks. The Federal Trade Commission employs economists to aid in the litigation of antitrust cases. The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service also depend heavily on economists in setting national fiscal and tax policy.

English, Communications or Philosophy

Political jobs, whether elected or unelected, require the ability to reason well, speak publicly, write clearly and employ sound logic when communicating. People who have any type of political aspirations must be effective communicators. This is especially the case in the age of 24-hour news reports, not to mention the constant connectivity Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have brought to people’s lives. These degrees would be especially helpful for students who hope to work in political communications or speechwriting. A communications degree would also be appropriate for students who wish to learn about the managerial aspects of politics.

Business Administration

A bachelor’s degree in business administration (BBA) will help you develop the skills necessary to arrange, direct and manage an organization’s objective effectively. BBA coursework usually includes economics, marketing, organizational behavior, accounting and management. This degree is likely most useful for those who wish to pursue a management-related government career (for example, with the Department of the Treasury), although the breadth of subject matter covered in its required coursework makes it quite versatile and appropriate for students seeking any type of political position.

There is no single “best” degree for getting into politics. Any of the degrees listed above would provide a solid academic foundation for a student who wishes to pursue a career in politics.