Political Management, Political Science, or Public Policy? Which to choose?

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A career in politics can take on many different forms. From the highest levels in Washington, D.C. to local governments, public-sector organizations and non-profits, interested professionals can pursue a wide range of rewarding careers.

Naturally, the roads to these careers can vary as well. When it comes to higher education, there are multiple degrees that could all lead to a job in politics. Three of the most popular degree options are a Master’s in Political Management, a Master’s in Public Policy and a Master’s in Political Science.

Each degree shares similarities, but they’re not all the best choice for everyone. So which degree is right for your career aspirations?

Master’s in Political Management

First up is the Master’s in Political Management. This degree is all about applied politics. Students may take knowledge learned in the program and use it to influence a political campaign — and help their candidate win an election.

One possible career path is campaign manager. This professional can earn an annual wage of up to $82,000 or higher. Graduates may also serve in a wide range of roles on a political campaign other than manager, such as advisor or strategist.

Master’s in Public Policy

Another degree option is the master’s in public policy. This is also a common degree option for professionals in the political landscape, but it differs in its focus from political science. Where the former was theoretical, public policy is all about the analytical side of politics. Students in this discipline can learn how to answer the questions of what is the best policy for a given situation and what are the effects of a policy.

Graduates may work in fields of policy analysis and program evaluation for government or non-profit organizations. One possible career path is that of policy analyst, who could earn up to $79,000 annually or higher, depending on experience and industry.

Master’s in Political Science

Finally, there is political science. This degree path is all about the theory behind politics. Students in these programs will learn how to answer the questions of how politics works, why people do what they do (and vote how they vote) and ideas behind governance.

Political science can be a viable degree choice for those who want to serve in analysis, consultant or advisory capacities related to politics. Many in political science also go on to get master’s and doctorate degrees, such as a political scientist. Graduates of this path have gone on to careers as communications specialists, who could earn an annual wage of $72,000 or higher.

The George Washington University Master’s in Political Management focuses on the skills behind successful political campaigns. Check out our infographic for a snapshot of the differences between these three programs, or connect with an enrollment advisor to learn more.

The Presidential Nomination Contests Post-IA & NH by the George Washington University

MA in Political Science by the George Washington University

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration by the George Washington University

Political Scientists by O*Net OnLine

Policy Analyst Salary by Payscale

Campaign Manager Salary by Payscale

Public Relations Specialists by O*Net OnLine

Communications Specialist Salary by Payscale

Infographic: Political Management, Political Science, or Public Policy?

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