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Political science major statistics

Looking for political science major statistics to round out your research or to make a major life decision? You’re in the right place. Here you’ll find facts about enrollment, employment, and, of course, salary data.

This page only cites facts from highly reputable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Brookings Institute.

Enjoy!

 

Basic statistics about political science majors including enrolment growth, total degrees conferred in 2019, the per cent of degrees conferred to women, the unemployment rate after college, and the median salary.

 

Enrollment statistics on political science majors

Overall, enrollment in political science programs has increased dramatically since 1950. Bachelor’s degrees conferred in the United States grew from 6,336 in 1950 to 36,715 in 2019, which is an increase of 579.4%.

 

Orange line graph showing the number of political science degrees conferred in 2019 within the United States between 1950 and 2019.

 

This is how political science programs have grown between 1950 and 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • Bachelor’s degrees conferred annually in the United States increased by 579.4%.
  • Master’s degrees conferred annually in the United States increased by 256%. 
  • Doctoral degrees conferred annually in the United States increased by 607.8%

The growth of doctoral degrees conferred annually outstripped the growth of master’s degrees when measured as a per cent, but in hard numbers master’s degrees still outstrip the number of doctoral degrees by a significant margin. Doctoral degrees conferred have not exceeded 1,000 in a single year.

 

Double line graph showing master's degrees and doctoral degrees in political science conferred between 1950 and 2019 in the United States.

 

You can see the exact number of degrees conferred at all academic levels in the chart below.

 

Year Bachelor’s
degrees
Master’s
degrees
Doctoral
degrees
1950 6,336 710 127
1952 4,911 525 147
1954 5,314 534 153
1956 5,633 509 203
1958 6,116 665 170
1960 6,596 722 201
1961 7,065 764 217
1962 8,326 839 214
1963 10,065 1,051 228
1964 12,126 1,163 263
1965 13,571 1,210 304
1966 15,242 1,429 336
1967 17,641 1,775 390
1968 20,387 1,937 457
1969 23,789 2,107 467
1970 25,713 2,105 525
1971 27,482 2,318 700
1972 28,135 2,451 758
1973 30,100 2,398 747
1974 30,744 2,448 766
1975 29,126 2,333 680
1976 28,302 2,191 723
1977 26,411 2,222 641
1978 26,069 2,069 636
1979 25,628 2,037 563
1980 25,457 1,938 535
1981 24,977 1,875 484
1982 25,658 1,954 513
1983 25,791 1,829 435
1984 25,719 1,769 457
1985 25,834 1,500 441
1986 26,439 1,704 439
1987 26,817 1,618 435
1988 27,207 1,579 391
1989 30,450 1,598 452
1990 33,560 1,580 480
1991 35,737 1,772 468
1992 37,805 1,908 535
1993 37,931 1,943 529
1994 36,097 2,147 616
1995 33,013 2,019 637
1996 30,775 2,024 634
1997 28,969 1,909 686
1998 28,044 1,957 705
1999 27,476 1,667 694
2000 27,635 1,627 693
2001 27,792 1,596 688
2002 29,354 1,641 625
2003 33,205 1,664 671
2004 35,581 1,869 618
2005 38,107 1,983 636
2006 39,403 2,054 649
2007 39,905 2,102 614
2008 40,253 2,157 638
2009 39,202 2,171 709
2010 39,462 2,252 745
2011 40,133 2,488 722
2012 39,792 2,510 746
2013 38,466 2,332 821
2014 37,360 2,294 792
2015 35,442 2,082 844
2016 33,955 1,983 793
2017 34,196 1,842 796
2018 34,967 1,854 789
2019 36,715 1,964 772

 

Green pie chart showing the per cent of political science degrees conferred in 2019 in the United States..

 

As you can see in the pie graph above, bachelor’s degrees comprise the majority of all political science degrees conferred, at 93.5%. Master’s degrees make up 4.5%, and doctoral degrees make up just 2%.

 

Stats on political science majors by gender

Political science programs have a very close gender distribution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 51.7% of all political science degrees were conferred to men, and 48.3% were conferred to women within the United States in 2019. That statistic includes bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

 

Dark green pie graph showing the gender distribution between men and women for all political science degrees conferred in the United States.

 

2019  All levels Bachelor’s Master’s Doctoral
Total 37,990 35,527 1,698 765
Male 19,657 18,249 931 477
Female 18,333 17,278 767 288

 

 

This is the gender distribution by level of academic attainment, as illustrated in the pie graphs below.

  • Bachelor’s degrees: 51.4% conferred to men and 48.6% conferred to women.
  • Master’s degrees: 54.8% conferred to men and 45.2% conferred to women.
  • Doctoral degrees: 62.4% conferred to men and 37.6% conferred to women.

The gender divide is nearly even for bachelor’s degrees. However, it widens by roughly 6% at the master’s level and nearly 25% at the doctoral level.

 

Three pie graphs showing the gender distribution of political science degrees conferred in 2019 by academic attainment.

 

Political science major facts about employment

Political science majors start with a moderate unemployment rate of 4.2% after college, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s on the medium-low end of the spectrum (anthropology sits at 6.6% near the top).

 

Blue bar graph comparing political science major's average unemployment rate with other college programs.

 

The Federal Reserve Bank also reports that political science majors experience a high underemployment rate of 51.5% after college, which is near the top of the range. For comparison, nursing majors experience 11% underemployment at the bottom of the scale, while anthropology majors have an employment rate of 59.1%.

It’s also worth noting that the second-lowest underemployment rate is 22.2%, for general education. 11% is an outlier.

 

Blue bar graph comparing political science major's average underemployment rate with other college programs.

 

Salary statistics for political science majors

Political science majors make a median of $64,000 in the United States, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

 

Green bar graph comparing the median salary of political science majors with other humanities programs.

 

Here is how that salary compares with other programs in the humanities, according to the BLS:

  • Archaeology and anthropology median salary: $66,000
  • Political science median salary: $64,000
  • History median salary: $60,000
  • Philosophy and religious studies median salary: $55,000
  • Law median salary: $53,000
  • English median salary: $51,000
  • Visual and performing arts median salary: $42,000

 

Orange line graph showing the median salary for political science majors over time.

 

Political science majors make a healthy wage over time. Even though they start at an average of $38,000 in their first year after graduating, that number climbs steadily without stopping much—as you can see from the line graph below.

This data comes from the Hamilton Project, a part of the think tank known as the Brookings Institute. It shows that the median salary for politics majors can reach as high as $93,000 at year 23. Remember that this number represents peak career income, which is why it’s higher than the average for all political science majors across the United States.

 

Year Median salary
1 $38,000
2 $41,000
3 $44,000
4 $46,000
5 $48,000
6 $53,000
7 $54,000
8 $57,000
9 $63,000
10 $61,000
11 $69,000
12 $68,000
13 $69,000
14 $72,000
15 $75,000
16 $80,000
17 $78,000
18 $80,000
19 $80,000
20 $84,000
21 $85,000
22 $92,000
23 $93,000
24 $89,000
25 $86,000

 

These statistics about political science majors indicate that enrollment has risen significantly. They also show a reasonably strong earning power over time, averaging $64,000 per year and hitting a peak at $93,000 23 years after graduation. It’s important to remember this despite the 51.5% underemployment rate after graduation, since it indicates that grads overcome early career struggles.

Looking for data on other disciplines? Check these out:

 

Sources: NCES 1, NCES 2, Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, FRBNY

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb is on a mission to teach liberal arts and humanities graduates to build the successful careers they deserve. After earning a bachelor's and a master's degree in history, he became a digital marketer and joined one of the most successful tech companies in the world. He started the Employed Historian blog at employedhistorian.com.

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