Government Studies

The Government Studies program at Laramie County Community College is the college's political science program.

Politics permeate every aspect of our lives. Politics is about power, conflict and ideas. Politics is, as Harold Lasswell famously noted, about "deciding who gets what, when, and how."

The study of politics involves analysis of the ways in which individuals and groups define and interpret political issues and seek to influence government decisions. The study of politics explores different systems of government and the ways different peoples, cultures and societies organize to solve problems. It seeks to answer questions about how we ought to govern ourselves, about critical issues related to health, education, the environment, about civil and individual rights, and about how power and resources are distributed in society.

Political science is about studying:

  • Political science is about studying constitutions
  • Political science is about studying legislatures
  • Political science is about studying presidents and governors
  • Political science is about studying courts
  • Political science is about studying elections
  • Political science is about studying all types of political protest
  • Political science is about studying every kind of political violence
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating energy policy
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating transportation policy
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating environmental, wildlife management and federal lands policy
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating health care policy
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating sports policy
  • Political science is about studying analyzing and creating national security policy
  • Political science is about studying state and local governments in the United States
  • Political science is about studying governments and politics from around the world

Associate of Arts

The Associate of Arts in Government Studies program prepares students for analyzing government and politics at the local, state, national and international levels. Laramie County Community College's location in Wyoming's capital city of Cheyenne affords opportunities for students to study government "up close and personal." Government studies courses at LCCC (listed with POLS prefix) provide the basis for either entry-level careers in government or preparation to transfer to a four-year program in political science or related fields.

Government Studies and political science majors develop strong problem solving, critical thinking, research and writing skills. They learn how to make convincing arguments that are supported by objective fact. Students of political science hone their presentation and verbal communication skills as they share their work with faculty and peers.

During their studies, political science majors learn how power is acquired and used, how campaigns are waged and how public opinion can be influenced. They study different models for leadership and gain a historical perspective regarding the relative effectiveness of different approaches.

Careers Political Science Majors May Consider

A number of government occupations, which can range from city planning to legislature to CIA intelligence, are available to those with a political science degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 55 percent of political scientists worked for the federal government in 2015, though jobs are also available at state and local levels (www.bls.gov).

Some political science degree holders also choose to advocate, or work on behalf of, a cause or a community. A thorough knowledge of government policies is necessary for most of these professions, though specific knowledge and particular skills might influence what kind of job one can pursue. Undergraduate political science students can participate in government or nonprofit organizations' internships to prepare for their careers.

Additionally, the completion of a graduate degree program can help political scientists stand out in a crowded job market. The BLS reported in 2015 that most political scientists earned between $47,210 and $162,500 per year at that time.

Those with backgrounds in political science can find jobs lobbying the government on behalf of interest groups and other non-government organizations. These individuals work closely with various stages of government, negotiating with elected officials and influencing policy to advance the goals of their employers or clients. This career does not necessarily require the completion of a graduate degree, though it could help in getting a job.

Courses in political theory, political economy, international relations and government procedures could apply for aspiring lobbyists. Other crucial skills include public speaking and networking skills. The median annual salary for lobbyists in January 2016 was $66,429, as reported by PayScale.com.

Since political science majors study the process for generating public policy and the implications for implementing various policies, the role of policy analyst is a natural application of their work as a student. Policy analysts rely on strong critical thinking, writing and research skills as they formulate statements about the nature and impact of proposals for public policy.

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

Senators, assembly members, representatives and other elected officials at all levels of government hire assistants to help them to carry out their duties. Legislative assistants tap the writing and verbal skills developed by the political science major to coordinate communication with constituents and inform them about developments within their district.

They assess the interest of constituents about current political issues and present the views of their elected officials within a positive framework. Legislative assistants respond to constituent inquiries and help to resolve problems of citizens within their jurisdiction.

Legislative assistants research policy issues, track legislation and survey the positions of other legislators on pending legislation. They prepare briefings for their legislator and other office staff.

Public relations representatives influence public opinion about their clients based largely on placing stories with the media. Political science majors develop the writing skills needed to draft compelling press releases and the persuasive skills to assert the benefits of covering a particular story. They also learn how public opinion forms and the role the media plays in that formation.

Public relations specialists often organize and publicize press conferences and other events in order to attract media attention and get the word out about their client. Political science majors gain some insight in this process as they study the mechanics of organizing campaign events and public appearances by government representatives.

Public opinion is increasingly shaped through the social media. Political candidates, officials, parties and interest groups need social media managers to monitor the views of constituents about their administration and current issues.

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

Marketing researchers analyze how consumers will respond to products or services much like political science students assess the reactions of potential voters to candidates. Political science majors study the role of survey research and opinion polling in campaigning. The work of market researchers often involves surveying consumer reactions to potential or current products and services.

Political consultants use the knowledge of the political process gained by political science majors to devise strategies for candidates to influence voters and gain support in their campaigns for office. Political consultants help to brand candidates and repair damaged images.

They attempt to influence media coverage of candidates by offering favorable stories and positive takes on the past performance of the candidate. Political consultants may survey potential voters to discern their reaction to a candidate and the basis of their opinion.

Political consultants may also work for public interest groups and help them to formulate strategies for advancing their causes.

Lawyers working for political figures, interest groups and lobbying firms use the legal research skills developed by political science majors to conduct research about legislative and policy issues. They help draft and edit bills, and assess the legal precedents for pending legislation.

Attorneys formulate and deliver arguments on behalf of their clients and attempt to influence decision makers about the merits of their stance. Attorneys use political knowledge in other areas of the law as well. They select sympathetic jurors and frame their cases in a favorable ways when there are controversial political issues related to trials.

Lawyers made a median salary of $115,820 per year in 2015, according to the BLS, and after legal services, local, state and federal governments employed the highest numbers of them.

Intelligence analysts work for clandestine agencies of the government, like the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. They tap the political science major's understanding of political groups to assess developments in volatile areas of the world. Intelligence analysts study countries, groups and individuals that pose a threat to national security and analyze patterns of leadership behavior and popular support.

Intelligence analysts write reports with their findings and present briefings to agency leadership and executive and legislative leaders and staff. In addition, knowledge of foreign languages used by potential terrorists helps analysts to investigate potential threats first hand.

Political campaign staff members help to formulate and execute campaign strategy. They work towards building a brand or favorable public image for the candidate. Political campaign staff use the ability of the political science major to study 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.

Political campaign staff organize events to gain exposure for candidates. They recruit, train and supervise volunteers. Political campaign staff orchestrate efforts to raise money to fund the campaign.

Political science graduates with interests in film, television, radio and other media could pursue a career in journalism. Specifically, journalists who majored in political science might report on domestic and international policy, either for a politically oriented media product or as a political correspondent in a more general news environment. Jobs as editors or news directors could also be available.

Speech, writing and broadcasting skills are vital to this profession, and students must learn to operate necessary equipment, such as video cameras and computer software. Some colleges offer journalism and political science as a combined major. The BLS states that the average salary range for reporters and correspondents in 2015 was $21,390 to $81,580 per year.

Political science majors might also find jobs teaching children, teenagers or young adults. At the elementary and middle school levels, these individuals might be qualified to teach history, social studies or government, while high school teachers could work with more specific subjects, such as American government. Any number of specific political science courses might be taught at the postsecondary level, depending on the teacher's interests and area of specialization.

Teacher certification is required along with a bachelor's degree to teach in public schools, and those who want to teach college students usually must earn a graduate degree.

Elementary school teachers saw a median annual salary of $54,890 in 2015, per BLS data, while middle school teachers made a median income of $55,860 per year. The median yearly wage for high school teachers in 2015 was $57,200, and teachers of political science at the postsecondary level that year earned a median wage of $73,370 annually.

Teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels were expected to see around average job growth from 2014-2024, the BLS reports, of 6%. Employment opportunities for political science teachers at the college level were predicted to increase 10% from 2014-2024, which is slightly faster than average.

Transfer Agreement with Four-Year Institution: Program Articulation

LCCC has partnered with a four-year institution to articulate a way for students to transfer earned credits. This articulation is a formal agreement between LCCC and the institution. This agreement matches up coursework to make the transfer process smooth and to eliminate any duplication of courses. Any deviations from the prescribed course list will not articulate.

Cost of Attendance

For general college expense, students can view LCCC’s tuition and fees Web page. There are generally no additional program-specific costs associated with the Government Studies Program.