Political science teachers instruct students in the theories of political science, international relations and international affairs. In addition to teaching, they conduct research in their field, publish articles and stay abreast of developments in the discipline.
Most teachers in the field of political science work in postsecondary education, teaching in colleges or universities at the undergraduate and graduate level. Some university teachers teach part-time at several institutions or hold a full-time job in another sector, such as government, nonprofit or private. While it is rare, some secondary-level courses in political science may also exist.
Most four-year colleges and universities require full-time faculty members to hold a Ph.D. in their discipline. Some part-time teaching positions and two-year colleges may only require a master’s degree. At the secondary school level, teachers are usually required to hold a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license, except at some private schools where minimum qualifications can vary.
Teaching experience can be gained through graduate teaching assistant positions, where students develop skills in curriculum planning, instruction, grading and conducting research.
Careers in postsecondary political science combine classroom instruction and independent research. Classes may include small seminars that focus on specific aspects of political science or large introductory courses on general theories in the discipline. While they may only teach several courses each semester, political science faculty are also expected to advise students and direct graduate theses and dissertations.
Political science teachers should receive training and hands-on experience in the following:
Although postsecondary faculty members have great flexibility in their schedules, their classes may require some night and weekend hours, especially in programs with a high percentage of part-time students. Faculty members also hold office hours and attend department meetings. Attendance at conferences and research may require some travel, especially during extended breaks and summer vacation.
Due to expected increased college enrollment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for postsecondary teachers to grow by 15% through the year 2018. Candidates with doctoral degrees will be in highest demand.
According to a May 2008 government report, the average salary for a postsecondary teacher was just under $59,000, with salaries ranging from $29,000 to $122,000. Salaries can vary greatly depending on the rank of the teacher, the field of discipline and the academic institution.