Exploring Applied Career Options

The list below includes a selection of materials that explore the transition from an academic to an applied career in political science. The resources below are meant to provide a starting point for further research.

APSA Resources

Online Career Resources: This APSA resource provides links to career sites and job search tools that may be useful for exploring career options.  

Career Path Profiles: A collection of career profiles of political science PhDs who are currently working outside the academy. The interviews provide useful advice for those exploring career options outside academia. 

PS: Political Science and Politics: This APSA journal includes many articles on applied career options and advice for graduate students. Recent articles and symposia include:

Career Examples

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

Blogs & Websites

Alt-ac Advisor: Offers practical advice for social science and humanities PhDs on resume writing, networking and interviewing. Includes short essays as well as general how-to advice.

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.

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.

PhDs at Work: This site hosts a “Week in the Life” series, which profiles PhDs from various fields who now work outside academia. Provides good context for what day-to-day life in an alt-academic job entails.

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.

University Resources

University career centers also provide resources for PhDs.

The Columbia University Center for Career Education maintains a list of applied career options for social science and humanities MAs and PhDs. 

The University of Chicago graduate career center also provides helpful documents on job search tools and resume-writing.

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.


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

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

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

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

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