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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:

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.


So What Are You Going to Do with That?: Finding Careers Outside Academia by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius.

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.

American Political Science Association
1527 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036-1206
(202) 483-2512 • Fax: +1 (202) 483-2657

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