Should I go to graduate school?
Students should carefully consider the prospect of going to graduate school. This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education has some important questions students should review on their own, with family members, and with their academic advisors.
What type of program should I attend?
A political science degree is excellent preparation for graduate study in the following areas:
MA degrees in Political Science can prepare you for work in government, non-profits, think tanks, corporate lobbying, and much more.
Ph.D. degrees in Political Science are most useful for those seeking to work in research or teaching at the college level. Ph.D.-granting programs in the US can be found at the American Political Science Association: http://www.apsanet.org/content_6947.cfm.
The American Political Science Association has put together an excellent list of questions to ask of graduate institutions you are interested in: http://www.apsanet.org/content_6925.cfm.
Top ranked political science programs can be found at US News: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/political-science-rankings.
Many students use a political science undergraduate degree as a springboard to law school. In 2014, Radford created a Law, Justice, and Society concentration in the Political Science major that adds legally related courses in other departments/schools including Communications, Criminal Justice, English, History, Philosophy, and Sociology to Political Science coursework, giving students an excellent preparation for law school.
To learn more about pre-law at Radford, see the pre-law advising webpage at http://www.radford.edu/content/chbs/home/prelaw.html.
The most important factors in law school admissions are your LSAT and GPA. No particular major is required. Take courses that you will like and do well in. Get to know your professors, so you’ll be able to get strong letters of recommendation. Take the lead on campus and achieve something tangible during your college years.
Law School generally takes three years during which students learn to reason and argue like attorneys. Law school can be extremely expensive but also very rewarding for the right people. Inform yourself during your undergraduate years by attending pre-law events, interning in a legal office, taking pre-law classes, and other means.
Law school rankings can be found at US News here: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings.
Consider reading Scott Turow’s book One L on his first year at Harvard law school. It’s a classic. Susan Estrich’s How to Get into Law School is a great primer with lots to think about.
The Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree is the management degree for the public sector. It prepares students to manage both public organizations and non-profits. You will learn many of the management skills that you would in a business program (human resources and accounting), but you will also learn about the unique features of managing in the public (intergovernmental relations) and not-for-profit sectors (fundraising, grant writing). MPA education tends to be hands-on and very applied. Case study discussion is common. Capstone projects may involve consulting for a real-world client.
It is also possible to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Administration. This would be most useful for those wanting to teach at the university level.
Find a ranking of Public Management/Public Administration programs at US News: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-public-affairs-schools/public-management-administration-rankings
The Masters in Public Policy (MPP) degree is often highly interdisciplinary. Political science, sociology, economics, management, and policy analysis can all play a part. Case study discussion is common. Capstone projects likely involve consulting for a real-world client. Harvard’s Kennedy School has an excellent description of its MPP curriculum, the gold standard in Public Policy education: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/masters/mpp.
It is also possible to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Policy. This would be most useful for those wanting to teach at the university level.
International Affairs/International Studies
MA degrees in International Studies or international affairs are good training for working in government, policy advocacy, activism, NGOs, development, and international institutions.
MA degrees will prepare you within 18 months to two years for work in a professional position.
Ph.D. degrees in International Studies can prepare you to teach International Studies at the college level. This is a program that is expanding exponentially at many colleges and universities.
The Department has pamphlets on graduate and professional school for students. Please come request one from Dr. Tan, the Department Chair (RU 232).