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Major in Government

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“God instituted government to establish ordered and peaceful social space where not only is judgement carried out, but good is recognized and encouraged…[It] has been instituted by God not only for the good of humanity but also for the glory of his own name.”  ~Michael Oh, PhD

Government affects nearly every aspect of our lives. We need only wade into shallow conversations about healthcare, the environment, education, homeland security or immigration to realize how passionately most of us feel about some of these political “hot topics!” A major in government not only “wades into” these political waters, but dives headlong into a deep understanding of political structures, processes and policies that affect our ever day lives. This major delves into the inner working of American government but also compares various governmental forms and political theories. This broad, liberal arts degree helps prepare students for a wide range of careers in anything from law to public service to communications to business.

If you are fascinated by current events, enjoy watching CNN and thinking about all-things government, then this major may be a great choice for you. In addition to a desire to actively engage in the political system, there are other important traits necessary for success as a government major. One of these is strong critical thinking skills since you will constantly be dealing with complex information that must be synchronized into pragmatic, real-world solutions. In addition, strong communication is a must, including written, oral and active listening skills. As a government major, you will engage in discussion and debate about many controversial topics and it is important to back up your convincing arguments with clearly stated, factual arguments.

A government major is an interdisciplinary degree, meaning you will take a diverse breath of courses in many subject areas. You may have opportunities to study abroad, participate in an internship and will likely be asked to write a senior thesis on a topic that interests you. Courses you can expect to take include: 

  • U.S. Political Systems
  • Comparative Systems
  • International Relations
  • Elements of Political Theory

Students who major in government land in many different career settings—some serve in local, state or national government, others in the nonprofit sector or in business-related fields. Others continue with ongoing education. Some of the more common career outcomes range from:

  • Campaign worker/political consultants who contribute to a political campaign in areas such as budget, advertising, fundraising, strategy and media response.
  • Lobbyists. Activists representing a specific group/organization who seek to persuade government members to enact legislation beneficial to the group they represent. 
  • Public affairs specialists who act as a liason between an organization and the public, seeking to create and maintain a favorable impression through press and social media.
  • State legislators. Officials elected by the public for the sake of proposing, passing and amending laws beneficial to those they represent.
  • Analysts (of research, public opinion or policy) who gather data, track political trends and currents, evaluate, analyze and offer recommendations to candidates, parties or elected officials.
  • Customs/immigration officers who work to protect American borders and enforce trade, drug trafficking or immigration laws in order to keep our country safe.

If your mind comes alive at the thought of efficiently administering a public bureaucracy or you dream of investing your energy in international relations or the creation of effective political platforms, then maybe God wants to use you to impact the world through a major in government!

A future in Government

By Jennifer Bailey

Government majors learn the practical understandings of democracy. They study the causes, as well as the consequences, of authoritarian and revolutionary political regimes. They also analyze constitutional orders, political parties, electoral systems, government bureaucracies, judiciaries, militaries and how other institutions of governance affect outcomes in the political realm.

The field of government is generally divided into "subfields." These include; American politics, comparative politics, international relations and political theory/public law as well as political analysis.

Getting a degree in government includes taking classes in political philosophy, political theory, comparative government and politics, political parties, interest groups, international relations, public opinion, political research methods and studies of historical governments and their politics. You will obtain a good knowledge of not only our American government and system both presently and historically, but other countries as well.

When trying to determine the best career direction for yourself, it is good to think about what interests you. If you are considering a career in government, perhaps ask yourself if the political philosophers of ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle interest you? Do you desire to understand what justice is? What is human nature? Or, what is virtue? Consider the relationship between politics and philosophy? What is the right way to live? Is there a right way to live? What is the ideal relationship between religion and politics? What role should theology have in a society that aspires to be moral and free and at the same time also be tolerant of religious differences? Deep thoughts, right?! Does it stir you?

The key things you will learn, in addition to all of the above, are writing, development skills, analytical and critical thinking, communication skills and research development. Majoring in government will prepare you for jobs in and out of government itself that include law, political science, history and public policy. You can go on to earn an advanced degree and would need to in order to practice law, for example.

The outlook in this field is strong and growing and jobs exist at the federal, state and local levels. Great positions are available in nonprofit organizations and the business sector in addition to local, state and federal agencies of all types.

There are many internship opportunities available to give you great hands-on experience and gain good insights for furthering your long-term career goals. Some areas for internships might include: communications, media, Congressional offices such as your local and national offices of U.S. Senators or Congressmen/women, Education such as curatorial, research, historical, public affairs, Naval Historical Center or perhaps you’d enjoy interning for a government consulting firm or nonprofit organization, a lobbying firm, a political action committee like the American Israel Public Affairs committee or even a think tank like the Heritage Foundation.

Once a degree in government is obtained, you can find long term employment in many diverse areas such as: A campaign worker, a lobbyist, a political consultant, policy analyst, an urban planner, an intelligence officer, a fundraiser, a program manager, a volunteer coordinator, a grant writer, a journalist, an immigration agent, paralegal/Legal assistant, regulatory specialist, public affairs specialist, research assistant or as a lawyer.