You may be wondering how to become a politician. You have the charisma to impress voters and the urge to improve your community. You were president of your high-school class, captain of your sport’s team, or you have always been the leader of your group of friends. It is common for politicians at the state and federal levels to have a college degree. What degree should you pursue to make your dream of becoming a politician a reality? Here is a list of the types of degrees you can seek that will give you a good idea of how to become a politician.
Studying political science will help you, both academically and socially. You will investigate how political leaders used power throughout the centuries, while learning historical and modern forms of statecraft. You will research current political topics and think deeply about what it means to be a politician. After graduation, you will be well-prepared to enter law school, as President Barack Obama did with his degree in political science. You may also choose to go directly to a career in public service.
Outside of the classroom, you will find that many of your classmates will have similar ambitions. You will benefit from being around like-minded peers, some of whom you may encounter again later in your career. Likewise, your professors will be helpful mentors. You may find class projects or research opportunities leading you to local campaigns, model United Nations teams, or student governance. You may find yourself working for a local politician; traveling to Washington, D.C. with your classmates; or even managing an experienced politician’s campaign for election. With a degree in political science, you can gain valuable skills to apply to your career.
Politics is more than just getting into office. Once you are there, you must take care of your constituency. A degree in business will give you the financial and management knowledge you need to keep your community running smoothly. You will learn how to balance a budget, manage employees, and analyze potential deals. Many business programs emphasize group projects, so you get early experience in working with others. Your business degree will come in handy after you graduate and transition into a government career. You can also earn an MBA or go to law school.
Earning a degree in American history can be helpful to you as a future politician. Taking American history classes will give you an understanding of how the American system of government works. You will also understand how government policies have affected the American people since the founding of the United States. Taking these classes will help you understand how elected leaders get their powers and influence the American people.
A background in American history is useful because it gives you some perspective about what is happening in the world today. This degree will help you become a better writer, communicator, and researcher. Some of the topics you will learn in American history include:
• How the framers of the Constitution drafted the Bill of Rights
• How the Civil War changed the face of the country
• How the three branches of government worked, and how they served Americans in the past
• How the United States government works today
Learning about the history of America helps you gain insight into how our political system works, how our institutions protect individual rights, and how our system upholds the freedoms that the U.S. Constitution safeguards.
A degree in public administration prepares you for many different types of positions in government, including holding elected office. You will learn about the various duties and responsibilities that an administrator has in a government agency. As an elected politician, you will have daily interactions with many public administrators as they implement the policies you and your colleagues develop and get approved. A public administration degree will help you understand the role that public administrators have in government and the types of jobs they need to do to make government work for the people.
You will learn several things as a public administration student that will help you as a candidate for public office and as a politician. These include:
• Budgeting and managing resources
• Implementing policies and learning about legal issues
• Working as a team and developing good communication skills
• Dealing with ethical issues and various other issues facing the public sector
Public administrators handle the day-to-day operations of a government agency to keep it running smoothly. A public administration degree is important for you as a future politician because it will help you develop the leadership qualities and organizational skills you need to be successful.
There are elected politicians at the national level who specialize in international relations and foreign policy. Getting a degree in international relations will help prepare you as a politician, if you are interested in this field. This degree will give you an understanding of America’s complex economic and military relationships with other countries and how America’s domestic and foreign policies affect these relationships.
Getting a degree in international relations allows you to learn about a number of issues from around the world. You will learn about various world leaders and how they relate to the global issues that arise every day. You can specialize in the politics of a particular area, like Latin America or the Middle East. You can also focus on international economic development, the global economy, military defense issues, disaster relief, or any number of other issues affecting countries around the world.
A degree in international relations will also help you to understand immigration issues. Hundreds of thousands of people try to immigrate to the United States every year. This degree will give you a better understanding of why people want to leave their family and homeland to come to America. As an elected politician, you can help craft immigration policies. You can also work with foreign governments to help them improve their economies and make living conditions better for their people.
You may not have a successful career as a politician if you are an introvert. A politician is constantly in the public’s eye, frequently makes speeches, and may conduct town hall meetings in front of hundreds or thousands of people. As a politician, you need to have excellent communication skills to present your ideas to your constituents and fellow politicians. Getting a degree in communications may not help you understand politics, the political process, or how the American government works, but it will help give you the background you need to hold press conferences and conduct public speaking events.
Gathering, processing, and distributing information in writing or the spoken word is the focus of a communications degree program. You can also take classes in the social sciences to give you a background in the American political system. These are all vital skills that you will need as a politician. Some of the things you will study in a communications degree program include:
• Mass media and advertising
• Technical communications and press releases
• Public relations and marketing
• Interpersonal and mass communications
• Problem-solving and conflict resolution
A communications degree will prepare you for the high-pressure environment of being an elected politician.
You cannot talk about politics without talking about the economy. People often make their voting decisions based on the state of the nation’s economy. Discussions on economic issues can bring people together or tear people apart. In many cases, discussions on the economy fall into arguments in the form of us versus them, rich versus poor, Main St. versus Wall St., or big business versus “the little guy.” Economics is a sensitive topic for many people. As a future politician, getting a degree in economics can give you the foundation you need to command the discourse about the economy.
While pursuing a degree in economics, you will learn about inflation, taxes, and interest rates, and about how these issues affect various entities, from families to multinational corporations. You will also learn about different sectors of the economy and how these sectors affect the nation’s politics. Some of the sectors you will learn about are energy, manufacturing, real estate, banking and finance, retail, and health care. not all politicians in America have a background in economics. A degree in economics will give you an advantage over other elected officials. Besides, it can make you the go-to person on economic issues.
The foundation of the American political system is constitutional law. Some of the cases the United States Supreme Court makes decisions on involve criminal acts where the constitutional rights of the perpetrator or the victim were violated. As a politician, you will need to have a strong understanding of the law. Politics is primarily about creating and interpreting laws. A degree in criminal justice will give you the background needed to understand how laws are created and enforced.
Many prominent elected officials have a law degree, and some have worked as practicing attorneys. A degree in criminal justice will prepare you for law school, if you choose to go this route before entering politics. Some of the topics you will learn in a criminal justice degree program include:
• Homeland Security
• Computer Security
• Law Enforcement
• Juvenile Justice
People talk about criminal justice issues as much as they do about economic issues. While pursuing a degree in criminal justice, you will gain a better understanding of the legal system in America and how it affects different communities in the country. This understanding will help you propose changes and improvements to the legal system.
The healthcare industry makes up around 20% of the U.S. economy. State and federal government agencies play a vital role in the healthcare industry around the country. Majoring in health sciences will help you to understand the issues surrounding the healthcare industry. As a politician, you can use this knowledge to help formulate healthcare policies that provide affordable healthcare coverage for everybody.
Understanding healthcare policies is vital for all politicians. Healthcare coverage is one of the most important issues the American people deal with, because it overlaps with the economy and their financial well-being. As a politician, a degree in health sciences will give you the knowledge required to deal with these issues and craft the public healthcare policies that people need.
You may be asking yourself what theater has to do with being a politician. As a politician, you will need to speak in public, present a positive attitude, and understand how to position yourself on a stage. Imagine participating in a public debate while sweating or not knowing how to project your voice to fill the room. A degree in theatre will help you to be more comfortable in front of an audience and present the proper issue. You will not be the first politician to study theatre. Perhaps you will become President of the United States one day, just like former actor Ronald Reagan.
Degrees of Current Politicians
Here is a sample of the undergraduate degrees that nationally recognized politicians who are currently in office have:
• Joe Biden – 46th President of the United States – History and Political Science – the University of Delaware
• Kamala Harris – 49th Vice President of the United States – Political Science and Economics – Howard University
• Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the House of Representatives – Political Science – Trinity College
• Kevin McCarthy – House Minority Leader – Marketing – California State University, Bakersfield
• Chuck Schumer – Senate Majority Leader – Social Studies – Harvard College
• Mitch McConnell – Senate Minority Leader – Political Science – University of Louisville
• Ron DeSantis – Governor of Florida – History – Yale University
• Gavin Newsom – Governor of California – Political Science – Santa Clara University
• Greg Abbott – Governor of Texas – Business Administration – the University of Texas at Austin
The most common degree among all politicians is political science. However, you will find politicians with degrees in various fields of study. Governors who are currently in office have undergraduate degrees in a variety of fields. These include:
• Liberal Arts
• Women’s Studies
As you can see, you can have a degree in any subject and become an elected public official. Many politicians also have J.D.s, M.D.s, or MBAs.
When choosing which degree to pursue, consider your strengths. Are you a policy buff who starts to tremble at the mere thought of being in front of a crowd? Then you can study theatre or communications to build up your public-speaking skills. Similarly, if you are a natural entertainer, you can take courses in business or political science to compliment your charismatic demeanor. No matter what degree you pursue, it is your innate talent that can make you a superstar in the political arena.
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