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Major Faceoff: Political Science vs. International Relations

Posted on January 8th, 2013 by Jenny Frankel

57571474Political Science is the study of government. International Relations is the study of governments. Yes, that description is an oversimplification, but Political Science and International Relations do cover much of the same subject matter; government structure, political theory, comparative government…So, which one is an international student to choose?

The Political Science undergraduate major studies governmental structure and political policy. The major also encapsulates how governmental actions effect societal behavior. (For an even more in depth description of the Political Science major, check out “Study Political Science in the US.”) In short, study Political Science and you’ll be studying government, policies, and their effect on the population. But, which population, you ask? Although concentrations such as Comparative Government are offered at most universities, the focus of a Political Science major in the US is primarily on America.

If as an international student, you would like to concentrate more on foreign affairs than domestic ones, the International Relations major might be more up your alley. The International Relations major, or IR as it’s commonly referred to, adds to students’ analytical skill set much in the same way that a Political Science major does, while maintaining a more international focus. Additionally, the International Relations major typically has stricter course requirements than its Political Science counterpart. Most universities require at least two years of foreign language study, since mastery of language is so crucial in international communication. Economics classes are also usually required, because of the strong connection between politics and the global economy.

Still puzzled on which major to take? Since they are quite similar, it’s hard to go wrong with either Political Science or International Relations. The decision is largely rooted in whether you’d like to primarily study the American political system or if you’d rather focus on global politics. Try to figure out where your interest lies, and decide from there!

Written by Jenny Frankel

Jennifer is the Director of Financial Services at Envisage International. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Florida where she holds a Masters in International Business and a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. She has lived and worked abroad in Chile, Costa Rica and London, and traveled extensively in South America, Europe and Asia.

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6 Responses to “Major Faceoff: Political Science vs. International Relations”

  1. sah Says:

    Thanks Jenny

    Great work

  2. simon Says:

    Hi Jenifer. Let me introduce u . am from Eritrea. Am studying political science and international relations in my country. I speak French aitalian and English. Thus want your comment what I have to do more effort to become good in international relations . I wait your comments. Thanks

  3. Juhi Says:

    Hi Jennifer. I’m a Business Management graduate with specialization in marketing. Although, this choice was rather a hasty mistake, it made me search through lot of options. And, so I want to explore my options in IR or similar courses that overlap my interests in Economics, History & Politics. How can I design my path and what will be my working horizons?
    I’ll really appreciate if you can share your insights.

  4. Phu Nguyen Says:

    Hi there, Juhi:

    It can be difficult to decide what your major should be, especially if you don’t know what you want to do in your career. My suggestion would be to look at those people who are doing what you want to do, and talk them. Ask them how they got to where they are, including what their educational background is and what experience they had going into it. You can even ask if you can shadow them or do an internship! You can use this as a guide to help design your path, and get the career you want. Best of luck!

  5. Abu Bakar Jabbar Says:

    Hello Jennifer!
    I’m from Pakistan.I’m confused about Political science….is this a good field or not?will i get good job after that?

  6. Connor Blay Says:

    Hello Abu!

    It’s completely normal to be unsure about which major you would like to pursue. I was a political science major for one semester during my undergraduate studies and I personally think it’s an excellent field, I just decided to go in a different direction. If you are a politically-minded individual and you possibly want to attend law school in the future, this would probably be a great undergraduate major for you. I suggest reading more into Studying Political Science in the US to help make your decision.

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