With a political management degree, you will develop the skills and knowledge to run political organizations and political campaigns. Overall, political management is focused on the skills you need to work in politics and political campaigns. Depending upon your interests, political management professionals may focus their degree on how to run a campaign, analyze polls, or run a political action committee or campaign office.
What Is Political Management?
Political management is the application of strategic tools and techniques to make our democracy work more effectively. It is important to note that political management is not the same as political science.
Political management IS grounded in the discipline of political science, and political managers do address some of the same subjects, such as elections, campaigns, advocacy and policy implementation. But political science teaches more about how to theorize about such processes. Political management actually teaches you how to engage in these political actions.
Also, political management is not the same as public policy. Political managers prepare public policies for the general public and devise strategies for leaders – effectively moving policy from campaigning to actual governing and policy making.
There is demand for political managers and political scientists in the federal, state and local governments today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth for political scientists and related professionals will rise by 3% by 2026, which is slower than average. But job demand can be higher in some areas of the country, especially in state and local governments.
Approximately 50% of all political scientists work for the federal government, and we can expect these professionals and political managers will be needed in government to assess how policies affect society, such as public services efficiency, how budget changes affect people and the advantages of policy changes.
Most political scientists and political managers work full time. According to BLS, these professionals are primarily employed in these industries:
- Federal government: 48%
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 27%
- Educational services: 7%
- Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional organizations: 7%
- Self employed: 7%
BLS reports there were 7,300 political scientists working in the US in 2016. There are more working as political managers, but BLS does not provide information for this specific job title.
Some of the related positions you can work in with a political management degree are:
- Market research analyst
- Survey researcher
- Urban and regional planner
BLS reports the median salary for political scientists and political managers in 2017 was $115,000. The lowest 10% earned less than $56,000, while the top 10% earned more than $161,000. The salaries in this profession varied based upon working in the following industries:
- Federal government: $123,000
- Professional, scientific and technical services; $118,300
- Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and related organizations: $76,700
- Educational services; $58,900
Where you work in the US as a political manager or in a related job also will influence your salary. For example, Payscale.com reports the average salary for campaign managers and political managers is $54,600. But you can earn more or less than this amount based upon where you live:
- San Francisco: +47%
- Seattle: +21%
- New York City: +12%
- Chicago: +2%
- Los Angeles: -7%
- Boston: -12%
US News and World Report also finds these cities are the best paying for political scientists. Keep in mind that smaller cities have a lower cost of living, so your paycheck will go further:
- Virginia Beach: $131,000
- New York City: $125,600
- Washington DC: $119,000
- Phoenix: $101,300
- Boston: $86,700
These states are the best paying for political scientists and political managers:
- Virginia: $133,700
- New York: $117,500
- District of Columbia: $116,500
- Maryland: $114,800
- Pennsylvania: $104,300
There are many career paths you can pursue with a political management degree. For example, according to the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management, graduates of their master’s program in political management are employed in the following areas and employers:
- Politics: National Diet of Japan, Mexican National Senate, Maryland House of Delegates, Michigan State House, Chiefs of Staff, Communications Directors, Legislative Directors for US House and Senate members; campaign managers for presidential and congressional candidates
- Public affairs: Senior leadership jobs at Edelman, GMMB, Ketchum, Ogilvy Public Relations, senior leadership at DCI Group, Patton Boggs, Whitmer Worral
- Associations: Management at Emily’s List, ONE Campaign, executive directors at National Association of REALTORS, US Chamber of Commerce, leadership and management at Teamsters
- Corporations: Leaders of Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Airbus, Boeing, Raytheon, Prudential and Booz Allen Hamilton
There are a variety of bachelor’s degrees you can earn that are somewhat related to political management. Of course, a bachelor’s degree in political science with a focus on political management can give you the background to get your career started. There are other degrees to consider as well, such as a bachelor’s of arts in government, a bachelor of arts in political economy, and a bachelor’s in foreign service.
For those who want to work in political management, campaigning, and public policy, it usually is desirable to earn a master’s degree. For example, George Washington University offers a Master’s in Political Management that teaches students the strategies, tactics and mechanics that get results in federal and state politics. This degree program offers students four different types of electives depending upon their interests: applied proficiencies, electoral politics, advocacy politics and global politics.
Each university sets its own admission requirements. But for a master’s program, you should expect these types of requirements:
- Undergraduate degree in a related field
- College transcripts
- Prerequisite classes in political science and public affairs
- Three letters of recommendation
- GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Updated resume that reflects management experience in the public or private sector
Each program will offer different courses for a political management degree. In the aforementioned George Washington University program, you will take these courses:
- Fundamentals of Political Management
- Applied Political Communications
- Political Data and Analytics
- Principled Political Leadership
- Political Power and Practice
- Issues Management
- Grassroots Engagement
At George Washington University, there are other specializations outside of political management. One of them is legislative affairs with courses in politics and public policy; legislative politics; executive and legislative relations; research methods; budgetary politics and judicial politics.
Another option is strategic public relations with courses in strategic PR principles and practices; advanced writing for communications professionals; research methods; media relations in a digital world; and fundamentals of business and finance.
Going to college is expensive. This is true whether you are earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in political management. Below are some scholarship and grant options in public policy and related fields to help you defray the cost of school:
- ACBH Stipend for Internship on Capitol Hill: Various amounts
- Antonio Jorge Political Economy Scholarship: $500
- Association of California Water Agencies Award: $3500
- Boren Scholarships: $20,000
- Cameron Impact Scholarship: $50,000
- Frances M. Dunn Memorial Scholarship: Various amounts
- COAG Scholarship: $1500
- Dairy Management Inc. Scholarship: $3500
- Islamic Scholarship Fund: $5000
Professionals who want to improve their career prospects with a degree in political management may consider becoming active with the following associations:
- American Political Science Association
- Association for Political Theory
- International Political Science Association
- American Association of Political Consultants
- Association for Politics and the Life Sciences
Professionals who want to have a career in politics or political management have a great opportunity to enter a dynamic field with this degree. The opportunities to earn a good living and to help society are considerable when you earn a bachelor’s or master’s in political management.
- Political Scientists. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-3
- Master’s in Political Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gspm.online.gwu.edu/online-masters-in-political-management/
- Political Scientist Salary. (2016). Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/political-scientist/salary