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