Raising Black Voices: The Path to a Career in Political Science

If you have ideas that need to be shared, or if you come from a community that doesn’t have much of a voice, a career in political science might be the right choice for you.

Raising Black Voices: The Path to a Career in Political Science

A degree in political science equips students with a deep understanding of political systems, governance structures, and public policies affecting societies globally. It cultivates critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to interpret complex political phenomena. Graduates are well-prepared for diverse careers in public administration, international organizations, non-profits, or further academic pursuits in law or public policy. 

Additionally, this discipline fosters informed citizenship, which is essential for participating effectively in democratic processes and understanding the broader socio-economic impacts of political decisions.

The Need for More Professional Black Participation in Politics 

As of 2022, approximately 47.9 million people identified as Black in the US, constituting 14.4% of the population. That’s a 32% increase from 2000, when the Black population numbered about 36.2 million.

As of January 2023, the 118th Congress reported only three Black senators and 53 Black members of the House. In 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 12.8% of the federal government workforce in the United States consists of Black or African American employees. However, those figures account for only 33% of senior-level positions — and that number shrinks further within the United States federal Senior Executive Service.

For this reason and many others, Black politicians today are among the most influential and celebrated, and many still represent important “firsts” in American politics. Here are just a few examples:

  • Kamala Harris is the first Black person, the first South Asian person, and the first woman to become vice president of the United States. She’s also the first vice president to have graduated from a historically black college or university (HBCU). Before that, she was the first Black American to become California’s Attorney General. Given all of these firsts, Harris is known as a champion of intersectional social justice and appointed an all-woman staff to her office.
  • Reverend Raphael Warnock recently became Georgia’s first Black senator and the first Black Democrat senator from the South since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Warnock graduated from UNCF-member HBCU Morehouse College and earned a Ph.D. in theology. Before becoming a senator, Reverend Warnock was a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — the same church once served by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist, became the first Black congresswoman for Missouri. Motivated to enter politics after the murder of Michael Brown by a Missouri police officer in 2014, Bush has emphatically stated: “I am the people I serve,” citing major adverse experiences with multiple race- and gender-based inequities she has had throughout her life.

Black engagement in politics has come a long way in recent decades, but the journey toward equal representation is not over. And with the underrepresentation of Black politicians comes an underrepresentation of Black experiences and perspectives in legislative discourse, meaning that the interests of people of color aren’t being adequately championed or served.

If you have ideas that need to be shared, or if you come from a community that doesn’t have much of a voice, a career in political science might be the right choice for you. 

Careers in Political Science

A political science degree is incredibly versatile and prepares graduates for careers in fields like law, communication, politics, and international affairs, to name just a few. Here are some of the potential career paths that are open to political science majors:

  • Lawyer
  • Lobbyist
  • Intelligence agent
  • Campaign manager
  • Diplomat or foreign service officer
  • Political analyst
  • Politician 
  • Professor
  • Civil servant
  • Journalist


Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer political science degrees? Looking for help with financing this degree? 

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How to Prepare for Success

For those considering a political science major, it helps to be an excellent communicator — in speaking and writing — and to be interested in the politics of today, but also the governments and policies of decades past. Taking American government and history classes will equip you with crucial skills and knowledge, and English classes will teach you how to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. 

In addition to your coursework, extracurricular activities can be extremely helpful in preparing you for a political science career. Consider joining the debate team, getting involved in student government, organizations like Model U.N., or volunteering for a political campaign you care about. You’ll gain some experience and have an opportunity to make your voice heard. The time you dedicate to these activities will also speak volumes on your résumé as you complete college and job applications.

UNCF Schools to Consider

As broad a field as political science can be, choosing a college that allows you to focus on your specific areas of interest is important. The following UNCF-members schools offer degree programs in political science:

Professional Organizations

As you prepare for a future in political science, it may also be helpful to explore these professional organizations:

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in political science than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if additional scholarships are available to study political science.

As you explore your options, use our guide to apply for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in political science. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!

You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in political studies by contributing to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!