I went to a very academically and theory oriented liberal arts undergrad program (New College of Florida), Poli Sci with a minor in Economics. Wrote an undergraduate thesis that required statistical anlysis, hypotheses, lit review, all that fun stuff. I really enjoyed it but after graduating (May 2016) I decided I wanted to apply some of that theory in the real world. I worked for DCF for a while, now I work for office that watches over the state university system. With a tuition waiver I’ve been going to a professional master’s program at FSU called the Master’s in Applied American Politics and Policy. I haven’t finished the program, I am probably set to do that either at the end of this year or in Spring of 2020 depending on my finances - but the program is really not academically-oriented at all and I’ve realized that there is a chance this isn’t what I intend to do with my career.
I’m ultimately aiming to work in policy analysis, whether that be as a policy analyst in a legislature or - in my dream world - doing the sort of research that the Brookings Institute does. The important thing for me is the ability to do actual political SCIENCE - at least some research, some statistics, some analysis, that maybe leads to a policy suggestion. I have often wondered if a more academically oriented master’s in political science would open up more opportunities for me in this realm, as my current program seems more oriented towards campaigning, re-election, and supporting politicians, and less about the policies themselves. I was kind of shocked to learn that a lot of students in this program, who majored in poli sci in undergrad, have never really even seen a poli sci article with regressions from a journal, let alone done any sort of original research.
I fear that the longer I continue working full time in positions that don’t necessarily require me to use these skills, combined with having a professional master’s degree that also doesn’t require me to use these skills, the harder it will be for me to ever have the chance to attend one of these more academically-oriented programs - which, at least to me, appears to be a prerequisite for getting one of these prestigious policy analyst positions. Does anyone have any advice about this? I had a really clear idea of what colleges were looking for when I applied to undergrad, and a pretty good idea for my professional master’s program too, but I really have no idea what is expected for academic political science master’s programs.