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What is Life Science?

If you were in school, you may have had to take a course called "Life Science 101" or something similar. You may have seen textbooks about life...

What is Social Science?

What is social science? Social science, in its broadest sense, is the study of society and how people behave and affect the world around us.

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What Can You Do With A Political Science Degree?

If you are fascinated by current events, want to shape public policy, and feel called to serve, political science is worth considering. But even if you don’t want to work in politics, political science can be a solid foundation for many careers.

Political Science majors study how laws are made and the comparative structures of governments around the world. You’ll learn how public policy is formulated and the impact politics has on the social and economic status of the population.

Career choices for political science majors
In addition to jobs in politics, there are many other career options to consider. Political science majors develop strong writing and research skills. They discover how to make a persuasive argument and back it up with facts. Political science students improve their presentation and verbal communication skills as they share their work with faculty and peers.

Political science majors hone their analytical skills as they examine policy initiatives and consider the impact of government actions. Critical thinking is critical to evaluating political party platforms and the impact of leadership changes.

During their studies, political scientists learn how power is acquired, how campaigns are run, and how public opinion can be influenced. They examine different models of leadership and gain a historical perspective regarding the relative effectiveness of different approaches.

If you choose political science as your major, there are a variety of options available to you after graduation.

10 Job Options for Political Science Majors

  1. policy analyst
    Because political science majors study the process of generating public policy, the role of policy analyst is a natural application of their work as an undergraduate.

Policy analysts rely on strong critical thinking, writing, and research skills when formulating statements about the nature and impact of public policy proposals.

Like political science majors, policy analysts must develop a sound thesis and form a convincing argument for or against the adoption of a particular policy initiative. In addition, analysts use their understanding of the political and legislative process to gain the support of individuals who can advance initiatives.

Salary: According to PayScale, the average salary for a policy analyst is $59,135. In terms of salary range, the top 10% earn $82,000 or higher and the bottom 10% earn $42,000 or less.1

2 Legislative Assistants.
Senators, Assembly members, Representatives, and other elected officials at all levels of government hire assistants to help them perform their duties.

Legislative Assistants use the writing and verbal skills developed by the political science major to coordinate communications with constituents and inform them of developments in their district.

They assess constituent interest in current political issues and present the views of their elected officials in a positive setting. Legislative Assistants respond to constituent inquiries and help resolve constituent issues within their jurisdiction.

Legislative Assistants research policy issues, track legislation, and investigate other legislators’ positions on pending legislation. They prepare briefings for their legislator and other office staff.

Salary: According to PayScale, Legislative Assistants earn an average of $40,299, with the top 10% earning $67,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $31,000 or less.2

  1. public relations specialist
    Public relations representatives influence public opinion about their clients largely based on story placement with the media. Political science majors develop the writing skills needed to craft persuasive press releases and the persuasive skills to take advantage of a particular story. They also learn how opinions are formed and the role of the media as they research current events during their studies.

Public relations specialists often organize and publicize press conferences and other events to attract media attention and inform their clients. Political science majors gain insight into this process as they study the mechanics of organizing campaign events and public appearances by government officials.

Salary and Job Prospects: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $61,150 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $115,430 or more and the bottom 10% earning $34,590 or less. The BLS expects jobs in this field to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029-faster than average.3

  1. social media managers
    Public opinion is increasingly shaped by social media. Political candidates, officials, parties, and advocacy groups need social media managers to monitor constituents’ views of their administration and current issues.

Social media managers need to understand various social media platforms and orchestrate campaigns to shape the perceptions of their users. Political science majors understand how opinions are formed and influenced by various media outlets and can be instrumental in formulating and implementing these plans.

According to PayScale, social media managers earn an average of $50,815, with the top 10% earning $78,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $35,000 or less.4

  1. marketing research analyst
    Marketing research analysts analyze how consumers will react to products or services, similar to how political science majors evaluate potential voters’ reactions to candidates. Political science majors study the role of polling research and opinion surveys in election campaigns. The work of market researchers often involves studying consumer reactions to potential or current products and services.

Market research analysts can use the knowledge of research standards that the political scientist has in designing scientifically viable studies. They must present their findings to clients and employees and back up their recommendations with data.

Salary and Job Prospects: According to the BLS, market research analysts earned a median annual wage of $63,790 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $122,630 or more and the bottom 10% earning $34,350 or less. BLS expects jobs in this sector to grow 18% between 2019 and 2029-much faster than average.5

  1. political consultant
    Political consultants use knowledge of the political process gained from political science majors to develop strategies for candidates to influence voters and build support in their campaigns for office. Political consultants help brand candidates and repair damaged images.

They seek to influence media coverage of candidates by offering favorable stories and positive views of the candidate’s past performance. These workers may survey potential voters to discern their reaction to a candidate and the basis of their opinion.

Political consultants can also work for public interest groups to help them formulate strategies to promote their causes.

Salary: Glassdoor estimates that political consultants earn an average of $77,368, 6.

  1. attorney
    Lawyers who work for political figures, interest groups, and lobbying firms use legal research skills developed by political science majors to conduct research on legislative and policy issues. They help draft and edit language for bills and evaluate precedent for pending legislation.

Lawyers formulate and deliver arguments on behalf of their clients and seek to influence decision makers on the merits of their stances. They also rely on political skill in other areas of the law. Lawyers select sympathetic jurors and frame their cases in favorable ways when there are controversial political issues surrounding trials.

Many lawyers work for government agencies where the political scientist’s knowledge of political structures is an asset.

Salary and Job Prospects: The BLS estimates that attorneys earned a median annual salary of $122,960 in May 2019, with the top 10% earning $208,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $59,670 or less. The BLS expects jobs in this field to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029-about as fast as the average.7

  1. intelligence analyst
    Intelligence analysts work for clandestine agencies of the government such as the CIA and National Security Agency. They use the political scientist’s understanding of political groups to assess developments in volatile areas of the world. These analysts study specific groups that pose a threat to security and analyze leadership patterns and popular support.

Intelligence analysts write reports with their findings and present briefings to agency executives and executive and legislative branch leaders and staff. In addition, foreign language skills of potential terrorists help analysts investigate potential threats.

Salary: PayScale estimates that intelligence analysts earn an average of $69,737, with the top 10% earning $103,000 or more and the bottom 10% earning $44,000 or less.8

  1. political campaign staff
    Political campaign staff help formulate and execute campaign strategies. They work to build a brand or favorable public image for the candidate.

Staff members use the political science major’s ability to research current political issues and assess voter reactions to a candidate’s platform.

They write press releases and help draft language for speeches. Political campaign staff help manage the candidate’s social media imprint and organize events to gain candidate attention. They recruit, train and supervise volunteers and raise money to fund the campaign.

Salary: ZipRecruiter estimates that campaign staffers earn an average annual salary of $35,994, with the top 25% earning $39,000 or more and the bottom 25% earning $26,000 or less.9

What is Life Science?

If you were in school, you may have had to take a course called “Life Science 101” or something similar. You may have seen textbooks about life science without ever knowing what it meant. After all, what is life science?

Life Science is a vast field of study that examines every living thing on Earth. From bacteria to begonias to beluga whales-Life Sciences aims to learn everything about life on this planet. Read on to learn more about this field and everything it encompasses.

What Is Life Science?
As the name suggests, Life Science studies life in all its forms, past and present. This can include plants, animals, viruses and bacteria, single-celled organisms, and even cells. Life science studies the biology of how these organisms live, which is why you may hear this group of specialties referred to as biology.

As you might expect, with an estimated 8.7 million animal species, about 400,000 plant species, and countless bacterial and viral species, there are many different life forms to study. Many life science researchers specialize in one class or organism, and some specialties like zoology have even more sub-specialties. There are more than thirty different branches of life science, but we will review some of the major branches here.

Ecology looks at the interactions between organisms and their environment. This can include topics such as the food chain, parasitic and beneficial relationships, and relationships within species. Ecology also examines things like biodiversity, organism population numbers, and distribution of those organisms.

In fact, ecology aims to provide an overall picture of how ecosystems function. These systems are complex, dynamic webs of life that are constantly changing and maintaining a delicate balance without which the system would collapse. This ecosystem could be as large as an entire rainforest or as small as a pond in Minnesota.

Botany studies is a branch of biology (pun intended) that deals with plants. Everything from lichens, grasses, and other groundcovers to towering redwoods falls under the realm of botany. It may also include fungi and algae that are distinct from other plant species.

Botany is one of those subclasses of biology that has its own subdivisions. Some scientists focus on plant biochemistry, while others study plant ecology, a branch that lies somewhere between botany and ecology. Other subdivisions include plant genetics, evolution, physiology, and anatomy and morphology.

While botany focuses on the plant kingdom, zoology looks at the animal kingdom. It studies characteristics of various animals, including their behavior, breeding, migration patterns, habitats, and more. It also works to identify new species; Of the estimated 8.7 million animal species on Earth, we only know about 1.2 million species.

As with ecology and botany, zoology crosses with several other disciplines, including paleontology, entomology, and genetics. Different zoologists focus on different types of animals, including birds, reptiles, mammals, fish and more. There are more than half a dozen subfields of zoology.

Entomology is the study of all the creepy crawly things of the world. This field officially studies insects, but can also study arachnids, myriapods, worms, snails and slugs. This could be considered a branch of zoology, since insects technically fall into the animal kingdom.

Of the 1.2 million species we know of, insects make up nearly 900,000 species. They date back at least 400 million years (far older than the oldest dinosaurs) and are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth.

Microbiology looks at some of the smallest living things – single-celled organisms or small-celled colonies. This can include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other tiny organisms that live everywhere in and within us. In the past, microbiology was one of the most difficult fields to study because it was so difficult to get a clear picture of the subjects.

For example, viruses have both perished and been driven out of the field of microbiology. It’s hard to nail down a particular definition of life, and viruses are one of those things that like to play jump rope with that line. And that is to say nothing of the 99 percent of microorganisms that cannot be observed by traditional methods.

Cell Biology
Cell biology is even smaller than microbiology and looks at the living systems that exist in individual cells. That’s right; even the cells that make up your body have their own tiny ecosystems. Remember learning in ninth grade biology that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell?

Cell biology looks at the life processes of individual cells, including metabolic processes, reproduction, signaling pathways, and the chemical composition of the cell. This gives us a better idea of how life works on a larger scale. It is especially important in areas such as genetics and pharmacology.

While botany and zoology view organisms as being in their environment, physiology focuses on how these creatures stay alive. This includes organ systems, organs, cells, and molecules that carry out the chemical processes that support life. Physiology sees you not as a person interacting with the world around you or with a complex mental life, but as an intricate dance of chemical interactions that keeps you alive.

Physiology can look at any of the forms of life we have discussed. Plant -, animal -, human -, cellular and microbial physiology are all subsets of this field of study. Physiology is also closely related to epidemiology and pharmacology.

Although the study of DNA and the genome is relatively new, genetics is a field that dates back to Gregor Mendel and his pea plants. It studies how traits are passed on and how they adapt to the environment. Only in recent years have we understood exactly how this genetic inheritance happens.

With the discovery of DNA, genetics has expanded to include traits that we only think are genetically linked. Geneticists are writing life science articles investigating whether traits like addiction, cancer, talent, and other such things can be passed on genetically and how. In the future, we may even see genetic changes that could prevent cancer.

Epidemiology is a look at the life cycles of diseases. It may seem strange to think of something like the flu as being alive, but these diseases are made up of tiny living organisms. Epidemiology studies how they live, how they reproduce, how they affect humans, and how they die.

Epidemiology is the cornerstone of public health, studying disease outbreak patterns, developing treatments and cures, and developing vaccines against them. The more we know about how these organisms live, the more we can do to prevent them from making us sick. As you might expect, epidemiology and physiology are very closely related.

Paleontology looks at life that is no longer living. In particular, it studies dinosaurs and how they may have lived. It is based on the fossil record and the clues we can glean from these preserved remains.

Paleontology is something on the edge of biology, bumping up against geology. But while it involves close study of various rocks, paleontology aims to use those rocks to reconstruct a record of life that once existed on this planet. Paleontologists try to use dinosaur fossils to reverse engineer how they lived, what they looked like, and even how they died.

Marine Biology
Marine biology can encompass many of the areas we’ve already mentioned here, with a big twist. Marine biology focuses on life in the oceans, from whales to fish to plankton and algae. It studies different ocean ecosystems, food chains, botany and more.

Part of the reason marine biology is so important is that most current theories hold that life on Earth began in our oceans. There are species still swimming around that were around in the time of the dinosaurs. There are also species that live at the bottom of the ocean that seem to defy the rules that normally govern life, so studying them can give us insight into more of the rules that govern all life on Earth.

Additional Branches
These ten branches of the life sciences are just a few of dozens. Biotechnology, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology all study different facets of the connection between life and technology, a connection that is growing stronger. Astrobiology studies the origin and presence of life in the universe, including our own.

Biolinguistics focuses on the biology and evolution of language among all living species. Biomechanics and biophysics look at the way living things move in the world and what that can tell us about them. Developmental biology looks at the life cycles of various living things, beginning with zygotes and ending with mature adults.

Ethology and population biology look at our behavior and interaction in groups. Evolutionary biology and evolutionary developmental biology explore how we have evolved over the eons. Histology focuses on the tissues of living things, and immunology studies our immune system.

Neuroscience specializes in the nervous systems that control various animals. Pharmacology studies how drugs interact with our systems and aims to fight viruses and bacteria. Quantum biology studies quantum phenomena in living things, and structural biology examines how living things are put together.

Toxicology takes a look at chemicals and toxins and how they affect living things. Zymology explores fermentation. And theoretical biology focuses not on a specific biological field, but on abstractions and mathematical models that describe biological phenomena.

Why go into life science
The biggest reason to go into Life Science is the sheer breadth of study it offers. The study of every living thing in the universe, past and present, is a pretty gigantic field. Chances are you’ll find a particular field that piques your interest.

But even if you’re not considering a career as a scientist, it’s still a good idea to study life science. As it turns out, that life science project your fourth grade teacher gave you wasn’t pointless after all. It was a way to help you understand the world.

Life science explores every single part of our world – the oceans, the earth, the sky, the deserts, the tundra, the forests, the mountains. Knowing how life works on our planet can help you better appreciate the world we live in and how much we need to protect it. Wouldn’t you appreciate a pond you drive by every day if you knew the complexity of the systems in and around each part of it?

Life science can also reveal the wonder you have inside you. Life science tells us that our bones are made of stardust and that we carry universes and supernovas in every cell of our bodies. Without you ever knowing it, your body is doing a million tiny tasks a day, all so important to keeping you alive, and while all these tiny processes are going on, while you are bursting with an incomprehensible amount of life, you are walking down the street to your job just like any other day of your life.

Knowing how miraculous every living thing around us is can make us feel more connected to the world and the people around us.

Learn More About Life Science
Life Science is an enormous scientific field that aims to answer some of the most fundamental questions about us. It studies everything from the blue whale breaching the ocean surface for air, to the sugar ant crawling along a kitchen counter, to the bacteria that go through your digestive process. It looks at how we live, where we live, and how we could live better.


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