Exploring Applied Career Options

APSA offers a range of resources for political science PhDs interested in pursuing a career in government, industry, non-profits, and other sectors, including events at the Annual Meeting, as well as digital resources. Here we highlight some of those resources, as well as career-related blogs and websites. We also encourage current graduate students interested in these career paths to consult with their university career centers, which often offer specialized services for their graduate students.
















Career Examples

PhD job seekers sometimes wonder what types of careers they would be a good fit for. Here we provide a list of real jobs obtained by political science PhDs to show the wide range of careers that are possible.

Airbnb, Research Manager
Anthem, Metrics Executive Advisor
Bloomberg Opinion, Columnist
Brookings, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies
CBS News, Manager of Elections
Climate Advocacy Lab, Social Science and Content Director
Council on Foreign Relations, Associate Director of Outreach
Deloitte, Learning and Development Manager
Facebook, Policy & Communications Researcher
Ford Motor Company, Manager of Marketing Analytics
Gallup, Director
The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Director of Research
Huffington Post, Senior Polling Editor
Hyperion Political Risk, Political Risk Consultant
Institute of Higher Education Policy, Vice President of Applied Research
International Peace Institute, Research Fellow
International Studies Association, Director of Professional Development
Intuit, Senior Data Scientist
Kettering Foundation, Program Officer
McAllister & Quinn, Managing Director of Higher Education
Microsoft, Senior Security Strategist
Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Senior Research Analysis Specialist
National Audubon Society, Everglades Policy Associate
NATO, Defense Policy Advisor
Northrup Grumman, Director of Strategic Analysis
NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Director of Gender Equity
Oxfam America, Senior Research Advisor
Peace Research Institute Oslo, Senior Researcher
Pew Research Center, Research Associate
Playwrights' Center of San Francisco, President
RAND Corporation, Associate Political Scientist
Southern Poverty Law Center, Director of the Intelligence Project
United Nations, Governance Officer
University of California, San Diego, Senior Data Analyst
University of Pennsylvania Press, Editor
University of Toronto, Senior Policy Advisor of Government Relations
The Urban Institute, Research Associate
USAID, Democracy Fellow
US Census Bureau, Statistician
US Department of Homeland Security, Director of Strategy
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Director of Academic Programs
Wells Fargo, Global Intelligence Manager
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Program Officer
The World Bank, Economist
YouGov, Senior VP of Data Science


Career Path Profiles: A collection of career profiles of political science PhDs working in a variety of positions within and outside of the academy. The interviews provide useful advice for those exploring a range of career options. 

Blogs, Podcasts, and Websites

Here we highlight blogs, websites, and podcasts from experts and organizations specializing in non-faculty careers for PhDs, providing specific advice on job search strategies, how to write a cover letter and resume, and other issues facing PhDs on the job market.

Beyond Academe: While geared towards historians, this site includes a helpful FAQ section which includes tips on how to approach alt-academic job applications, common myths surrounding applied careers, job search information, and more. Beyond the Professoriate: Offering a range of free and paid resources for PhDs looking for careers in industry, non-profits, higher education administration, the private sector, and academia. The Grad Student Way: Focuses on practical advice for preparing for an applied career while still in grad school and finishing a dissertation. Written by a biology PhD, much of the advice applies equally to social science grad students. Imagine PhD: A free site that helps PhDs identify a variety of career pathways based on individual interests and skills. Recovering Academic: A podcast on for PhDs working outside of academia or interested in exploring those options. Roostervane: A blog created by a religious studies PhD with career advice for PhDs from all disciplines, including tips for networking, personal branding, and how to translate your skills for the job market.

The Versatile PhD: A forum for PhDs who are interested in pursuing applied careers. Portions of the site are free to use and include advice forums and job sector information. There is also a message function which allows you to contact any of the +60,000 registered members. Further detailed career resources are available if your university is a Versatile PhD subscriber.

PS: Political Science and Politics

Includes many articles on applied career options and advice for graduate students. A broader list of career-related publications can be found here.


Career Events at the Annual Meeting

Career Center at the Annual Meeting: In 2019 APSA introduced the Career Center at the Annual Meeting, which is a centralized hub for career-related professional development panels, a Career Open House, the Graduate School Information Fair, and the APSA Interview Service

Thinking Outside the Box Panels: Each year, the Departmental Services Committee sponsors a roundtable or panel at the APSA annual meeting focused on jobs beyond traditional tenure-track roles of academia. The panelists included are all political science PhDs who now work in areas of government, public service, business, and elsewhere. 

2020 Thinking Outside the Box: Applied Careers in Political Science

  • Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak, St. Olaf College (Chair)
  • Kristy Belton, International Studies Association
  • Marissa Guerrero, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Sherry Martin, US Department of State

2019 Thinking Outside the Box: Applied Careers in Political Science

  • Holley E. Tankersley, Coastal Carolina University (Chair)
  • Menna Demessie, Congressional Black Caucus
  • Emma Ashford, Cato Institute
  • Beatriz Cuartas, National Nuclear Security Administration
  • LaShonda Brenson, The Joint Center
  • Patricia Stapleton, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

2018 Thinking Outside the Box: Non-Academic Jobs Roundtable

  • Holley E. Tankersley, Coastal Carolina University (Chair)
  • Molly Reynolds, Brookings Institution
  • Yasushi Hazama, Institute of Developing Economies
  • Kristy A. Belton, International Studies Association
  • Yazmin Argentina Garcia Trejo, U.S. Census Bureau

2017 Thinking Outside the Box: Non-Academic Jobs Roundtable

  • Holley E. Tankersley, Coastal Carolina University (Chair)
  • Glen Galaich, Stupski Foundation
  • Eric McGhee, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Diahanna L. Post, Nielsen
  • Marissa Irene Guerrero, Arabella Advisors
  • Kara Miriam Abramson, American Political Science Association

2016 Thinking Outside the Box: Non-Academic Jobs Roundtable

  • Priscilla M. Regan, George Mason University (Chair)
  • Jacob R. Straus,Congressional Research Service
  • Kara Miriam Abramson, American Political Science Association
  • Deborah Diamond, Campus Philly
  • Kimberly Fitch, Gallup
  • Michael Noonan, Foreign Policy Research Institute

2015 DSP Non-Academic Jobs Roundtable

  • Elizabeth Super, American Political Science Association
  • Sean. M. Szeigler, RAND Corporation
  • Clare Robinson, Scholars at Risk
  • John C. Fortier, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Frank Kuhn, European Research Council