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This article provides an overview of the masters in legislative affairs degree program, some of the subject matters and courses that the program covers, and why this degree could lead to significant career advancement. It also presents a high-quality online masters in legislative affairs program that you might want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Legislative Affairs?
A masters in legislative affairs focuses strongly on public affairs, which means there is an element of public relations, media engagement, and more, but with a legislative emphasis. Graduates often find work in government, health care, or other such organizations.
Those with a legislative affairs masters degree are specialists in communication, public relations, and media to convey legislative information to the public. They are advocates, working with nonprofit organizations, hospitals, businesses, universities, and more, to ensure that they have positive relationships with each other, the media, and the public, and mainly that they are compliant with relevant legislature.
Graduates are prepared to handle the complexities of legislative problems and how these impact relationships with different entities. These include government, industry, and consumers. They are able to interpret, analyze, and create legislative policies in both international and domestic arenas.
Schools set their own admission requirements for a masters in legislative affairs. However, it is common for those requirements to include holding a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area, and having work experience in government, law, economics, education, health care, or other such sectors. Legislative affairs is generally a specialization within public administration, and students can also learn about urban and state affairs; information policy; innovation, technology, economic and social policies; public leadership and management; philanthropic and nonprofit studies; the environment and its natural resources; international affairs; and more.
Typically, schools will require students to complete a research project, an internship, and/or a thesis. The core curriculum will depend on the university, but it is common to see classes in areas such as:
- Political Science
- Theory and Concepts of Legislative Affairs
- International Legislative Affairs
- Business Administration
Why Earn a Masters in Legislative Affairs?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies those with a masters in legislative affairs as political scientists. Unfortunately, they have estimated that there will be a 2% decline in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024. Over 50% of current political scientists are employed with the federal government. There will continue to be a need for them there, as they determine how public and legislative policies impact the country. This includes looking at the advantages of proposed improvements, the effects of departmental cuts, and the efficiencies of public services. However, the BLS still believes that there will be a decline in demand due to significant cuts in federal spending, and due to the significant changes brought about by the Trump Administration. Both have had a negative impact on federal government employment, and therefore also in employment of political scientists.
That said, there might be an increase in demand for these types of professionals in social, labor, and nonprofit organizations, as well as lobbying firms and political organizations. This is because they require people with the advanced skills and knowledge required to understand legislation and to research and manage the different regulatory and legal policies and issues. Furthermore, policy and research organizations also have a requirement for these specialists, where they place a particular emphasis on political theory and politics. Organizations that advocate for or research certain causes, like the environment, health care, or immigration, also have a need for political scientists to determine the effect of policies in relation to that particular field.
Overall, competition for jobs for political scientists is very strong. There are few positions available, yet the programs at universities are incredibly popular. In addition, most of those who do find a position tend to have a job for life. As a result, it is likely that there will be more qualified individual for fewer positions. This is one of the reasons why completing a graduate degree is so important. This is because the degree provides advanced analytical and writing skills, as well as greater experience in performing and researching policy analysis. Those who do hold a master’s degree therefore have much better job prospects, particularly if they have completed an internship as well.
According to the BLS, political scientists can had a median salary of $114,290 per year as of May 2016. However, the projected 2% decline in demand from 2014 to 2024, however, will result in the loss of 100 jobs.
Online Option for Masters in Legislative Affairs
George Washington University
If you are interested in this particular field, then you may want to consider the Legislative Affairs graduate degree program offered by The Graduate School of Political Management of George Washington University. This degree ensures that graduates will have an in-depth understanding of how Congress operates, how entities like lobbyists, the executive branch, and constituents impact the way legislature works, and how procedures shape outcomes. The courses are delivered online, or in a classroom just steps away from the Capital, and they teach students the latest tactics and strategies of importance within the political arena. This master’s program has a strong background in launching the careers of people involved in legislature not just in this country, but also abroad. Graduates include members of the German Bundestag, state legislators, and chiefs of staff in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
This is the only program of its kind in the country. It devotes itself exclusively to understanding how policies are applied in the legislative area. Developed by working professionals and political scholars, it gives students a unique perspective. The faculty includes employees from the Hill and U.S. House of Representative members, to name but a few. Graduates are highly sought-after for their extensive experience and knowledge of the legislative arena.
The core courses of the degree program include:
- Politics and Public Policy (using policy analysis, implementing policy, formulating policy, and relevant political processes).
- Legislative Politics (member-constituency relationships, party and committee activities, individual and collective decision-making, interest group activities, and executive-legislative relations).
- Executive-Legislative Relations (understanding the institutional and political relationship that exists between legislative and executive branches within the federal government).
- Research Methods (problems of measurement, construction of research designs, alternative approaches to political analysis).
Common career options for graduates include:
- Political scientist
- Legislative affairs specialist
- Congressional affairs specialist
- Director of government affairs
- Manager of state legislative affairs
As you can see, completing a masters in legislative affairs degree is a great way to advance your career. While competition for available positions is strong, a graduate degree will greatly increase your chances of finding a employment in which you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of everybody in the country. This should provide you with significant personal and professional pride.
- Political Scientists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm
- Legislative Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gspm.gwu.edu/legislative-affairs