Employment and Conferences

M.A. students have available two sets of career options:

  1. to proceed to a Ph.D. program or
  2. to begin a career in other professional fields


Ph.D. Option

Students interested in continuing their education in pursuit of a doctoral degree should consult with faculty early on. The commitment to a doctoral program is a serious one and may require a considerable financial sacrifice while imposing emotional and mental strain for an extended time period. Students should also give considerable thought to selecting Ph.D. fields that could improve their chances of finding a job upon completing their degree. This process should start during the time while you are still working on your M.A. Degree. As a pre-requisite, students contemplating entering a Ph.D. program should be careful in the selection of courses and pay particular attention to developing their methodological, theoretical or analytical skills. Participating in conferences is also strongly advised to allow students to meet colleagues and faculty from other programs and begin the all-important networking process. Having had contact with faculty from other programs may enhance you chances of being accepted into a program of your choice. 


Other Professional Careers

The MA degree does not confine students to specific careers. Graduates from this Department have moved into successful careers in the public sector as elected and appointed officials to all levels of government, the nonprofit sector and even into the private sector. 

Given the wide range of options, it is imperative that you spend considerable time thinking about what professional fields would be of interest to you. Students should plan on involving themselves in departmental and other extra-curricular activities to help them build a resume and develop marketable job skills while developing a network of contacts. Some students may benefit from an internship, a semester abroad, learning a foreign language, further developing a technical skill area, or expaninding their knowledge of a specialized field or area. 

We also encourage you to develop a professional portfolio. 

professional portfolio consists of materials representative of one's work. It is a sysstematic collection of exemplary  accomplishments and a demonstration of one's skills and abilities. The portfolio approach to developing one's career should continue after graduation. As such, the portfolio serves both as a documentation of past accomplishments and as a planning tool for the future. 

Beginning with the fall semester 1998, the portfolio became an integral part of the MA students' professional preparation. MA students start building this document when they first enter the program. They will add to the documentation, as their skills and abilities as students and professionals progress. The portfolio should be reviewed with the program director at least once a year or as part of the advising process to identify any areas that the individual might have neglected. Before graduation each student should schedule time to have their entire document peer reviewed and critiqued.

The portfolio should cover the following areas:

     Career Goals

  • Career goals will change, but writing them down will help you focus

     Academic Preparation

  • Specialization/Concentrations
    Focus on course integration
    Thesis or other major pieces of writing
    Statistical and computer skills
    Foreign languages

     Professional Growth and Continuing Education

  • Attending workshops
    Participation in and presentation of papers at conferences
    Professional/academic associations membership (active membership, officer)
    Leadership development
    Individual efforts (reflection on one's professional strengths, weaknesses)
    Professional standards and ethics (keep personal journal on encounters with ethical problems and the handling of these dilemmas; knowledge of ethics standards pertinent to the chosen professional field)

     Public Service

  • Volunteerism
    Organizing events and activities
    Participation/organizing campaigns

     Internship and Work Experience

  • Organization, agency
    Assignments, activities
    Supervisor(s), mentors
    Work products

     Other (Work) Experiences

  • Travel
    Prior work experiences


  • Review your resume periodically and keep updated; have others review it

The political science faculty encourages graduate student participation in state, regional, and national conferences. To enhance professional development and the benefits of conference participation, the faculty urges that graduate students observe the following guidelines:

1. Paper proposals for state, regional, and national conferences should only be submitted if supervised by either the faculty member who directed (or will direct) the preparation of the paper, the chair of the student's committee, the graduate adviser, or the department chair;

2. If the conference proposal is accepted, the student should immediately notify the graduate adviser in writing of the title of the paper and the name and date of the conference; and 

3. Prior to the conference, the student should present the paper to an assembly of political science graduate students and faculty for comment and feedback to guide revisions. 

4. The graduate adviser shall be responsible for notifying all graduate students and faculty of the time, place, and agenda for the assembly.