Careers in government, law, and public policy offer a wide range of opportunities to lead, serve the public interest, and ensure fundamental rights and social justice. We invite you to explore this cluster to determine if it is a good fit for you and leverage our resources to launch your job, internship, or graduate school search.
 

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Our specialized Government, Law, and Public Policy career coach will help you launch a job, internship, or graduate school search in your field of interest. He is also the pre-law advisor for Boston College.

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This cluster may be for you if:

You have a desire to fight for justice and serve the public good

You are globally-minded, analytical, passionate, and a problem solver

You enjoy research, writing, and public speaking

Careers in government, law, and public policy are open to students of all backgrounds. If you have preconceptions or doubts that are preventing you from exploring careers in these fields, we encourage you to make an appointment. Let’s dig deeper into these beliefs and engage in a meaningful conversation together.

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Explore Opportunities in Government, Law, and Public Policy

Government (Federal)

Careers within the federal government include opportunities within the three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—as well as in any of the vast number of federal agencies and departments, like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor, Federal Trade Commission, National Science Foundation, and many more. Depending on where your interests lay, you can pursue career paths affecting policy, legislation, the environment, transportation, education, commerce, and much more. 
 

Types of Positions

There is a range of functional roles and positions within the federal government, from environmental scientists to museum curators and beyond. Below are common entry-level positions within the federal legislature.

  • Legislative Aide
  • Congressional Aide
  • Press Assistant
  • Entry-Level Officer or Agent (in federal agencies/departments)

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

  • House of Representatives
  • National Institutes of Health
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Attorney General’s Office

Hiring Timelines

  • 10% received job offers before senior year
  • 10% received job offers during fall semester of senior year
  • 60% received job offers during spring semester of senior year
  • 20% received job offers after graduation
     

Outcomes

Do I need to go to graduate school?

Graduate degrees are not required for working in the federal government. However, there are a number of graduate degree paths, including law school and masters and doctoral programs in fields such as policy, administration, public affairs, international affairs, and government, as well as STEM and the liberal arts, for those interested in gaining greater knowledge and experience in areas relevant to government work. 

Graduate School

Visit the "Find Your Graduate Degree for Public Service" page on the NASPAA website to explore graduate degrees in public policy and public administration.

Government (State/Local)

Similar to the federal government, careers within state and local government include opportunities in each of the three branches of government: executive (such as a governor’s or county executive’s offices), legislative (such as a state or town assembly), and judicial (such as state superior courts or county district attorney offices). In addition to legislature, governance, and policy, state and local governments also afford ample opportunities to forge careers in areas such as the environment, energy, health, education, and many more.
 

Types of Positions

Much like the federal government, there are a number of functional roles within state and local government beyond the political sphere, including engineering, education, and energy. Common early-career job titles within state and local governments in each of the three branches of government include:

  • Legislative Aide
  • Assistant City Manager
  • State Senate Staff Assistant
  • Judicial Aide
  • Government Associate

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

  • Massachusetts Attorney General's Office
  • Office of the State Treasurer of Massachusetts
  • New York County District Attorney’s Office
  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation
  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
  • Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office
  • Massachusetts House of Representatives
  • City Government of Temple Terrace, Florida

Hiring Timelines

  • 50% received job offers during spring semester of senior year
  • 50% received job offers the summer after senior year
     

Outcomes

Do I need to go to graduate school?

Graduate degrees are not required for working in state and local government. However, there are a number of graduate degree paths, including law school and masters and doctoral programs in fields such as policy, administration, public affairs, international affairs, and government, as well as STEM and the liberal arts, for those interested in gaining greater knowledge and experience in areas relevant to government work.

Graduate School

Visit the "Find Your Graduate Degree for Public Service" page on the NASPAA website to explore graduate degrees in public policy and public administration.

International Affairs

International affairs encompasses a wide range of multi- and interdisciplinary careers in diplomacy, economic development, policy, trade, security, human rights, and various other areas. Students interested in international affairs may embark on careers in government agencies like the Foreign Service and Peace Corps, multilateral organizations like the United Nations, or a range of international non-governmental organizations and nonprofits.
 

Types of Positions

International affairs is a broad industry field. From ambassador down to language editor, there are a number of positions depending on organization type and functional area. Common early-career job types in international affairs include the following:

  • Junior Foreign Service Officer
  • Advisor
  • Program Officer
  • Administrative Officer
  • Strategy Analyst
  • Policy Analyst
  • Translator

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

  • Fundación Alberto Motta
  • United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Do I need to go to graduate school?

Graduate study for an international affairs career is dependent on the organization and functional area within the industry. For example, multilateral organizations like the United Nations value candidates who are embarking on or have graduated with advanced degrees in relevant fields, including international affairs and a range of STEM and liberal arts disciplines. Examples of industry-specific graduate degrees include master’s and doctorates in global affairs, international affairs, development, public administration, and policy. Foreign Policy keeps an updated list of top graduate programs for international relations, while interested students should also visit the APSIA website.

Graduate School

Law

Law is a vast field that offers career options in a variety of settings and specializations. Broadly speaking, lawyers work in private practice, business, public interest, government, and academia. Attorneys who specialize in transactional law carry out research and counsel individuals and organizations on a range of legal matters, while those who specialize in litigation settle civil and criminal legal suits in court. Anyone who wishes to become a lawyer must attend law school, which is generally a three-year commitment, and pass the bar exam in the state(s) where they wish to practice.
 

Types of Positions

There is a wide range of careers within the law and legal services industry. Students who wish to work in the industry prior to entering law school generally assume positions as the following at law firms, district attorney offices, and elsewhere:

  • Paralegal
  • Legal Assistant
  • Legal Analyst
     

During law school and following graduation from law school and passage of the bar, JDs start their careers as the following:

  • Associate
  • Summer Associate
  • Attorney 

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

Law Schools:

  • Boston College Law School
  • Boston University Law School
  • University of California, Berkeley Law
  • Columbia Law School
  • Duke University School of Law
  • Fordham University School of Law
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Notre Dame Law School
  • University Virginia School of Law
     

Employment:

  • Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • Mintz Levin
  • New York Attorney General’s Office
  • Paul Weiss
  • Ropes and Gray
  • White and Case
  • WilmerHale

Hiring Timelines

  • 1% received job offers during fall semester of senior year
  • 65% received job offers during spring semester of senior year
  • 34% received job offers the summer after senior year
     

Outcomes

Do I need to go to graduate school?

In order to begin your career as an attorney, you must attend law school. The Boston College Career Center offers resources to help you explore your interests in law school and prepare your law school applications, from writing your personal statement to studying for the LSAT. Consider scheduling an appointment with the GLP career coach and pre-law advisor for one-on-one advising. 

Law School

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officials operate at every level of society, from smaller, community-based police organizations, to municipal and state police forces, national agencies like the FBI, U.S. Marshals, DEA, and Secret Service, and international organizations like Interpol. Beyond policing, the broader fields of law enforcement and criminal justice include careers in forensics, social work, and counseling, among others.
 

Types of Positions

From FBI Director to crime scene investigator, there are various career paths within the law enforcement industry. Common entry-level positions in local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies include:

  • Patrol Officer
  • Deputy U.S. Marshal
  • Entry-Level Special Agent
  • Entry-Level FBI Agent

Do I need to go to graduate school?

For forensic work, graduate work in STEM fields, and forensic science in particular, is valued. For counseling psychology, clinical graduate work is required.

Graduate School

Military/Defense

The U.S. armed forces and federal departments and agencies like the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency defend the nation and American interests at home and abroad. While the conventional path to defense careers starts with joining one of the four branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps), the National Guard, or the Coast Guard as an enlisted serviceman or officer, there are many opportunities for civilians to embark on defense careers in federal departments and agencies. Defense careers include number of diverse sectors, including intelligence, policy, research, medicine, aid, engineering, and technology.
 

Types of Positions

There are a number of civilian and military positions within the defense industry, including in the areas of engineer, technology, and intelligence. Depending on the branch of the military, and if a student has participated in ROTC, one can enter the armed forces as an enlisted serviceman via  recruiter or embarking on officer training.

  • Technician
  • Administrator
  • Intelligence officer
  • Enlisted Service Person

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

Boston College has alumni actively serving in all branches of the military. Alumni also work in areas such as the Department of Defense and National Security Agency.

Do I need to go to graduate school?

Graduate school is not required.

Graduate School

Public Policy/Advocacy

Careers in public policy and advocacy include a range of opportunities to research and implement government policy, advocate and lobby for interest groups, fight for social justice, influence lawmakers, and elect candidates to office. Students interested in pursuing careers in public and policy and advocacy may work in think tanks, government relations offices, activist organizations, policy and advocacy nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, lobbying firms, and political consulting companies.
 

Types of Positions

From director of research at a global think tank to speechwriter for a political campaign, there is a wide range of positions and functions within the public policy and advocacy career fields. Some common early-career positions include:

  • Legislative lobbyist
  • Government relations associate
  • Campaign staff worker
  • Program analyst
  • Policy analyst
  • Researcher
  • Translator

Where BC Graduates Have Gone

  • RAND Corporation
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Grassroots Campaigns
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Massachusetts Democratic Party
  • Indiana Democratic Party
  • Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts

Do I need to go to graduate school?

Advanced degrees, including masters or doctorates, are desirable for many public policy positions, which oftentimes require expertise in specific subject areas. Think tank policy analysts, for example, have advanced degrees in economics, public policy, public administration, or public affairs. Advanced degrees in liberal arts and STEM disciplines are also desirable. Visit the "Find Your Graduate Degree for Public Service" page on the NASPAA website to explore graduate degrees in public policy and public administration. The Princeton Review Public Policy page has more information about degrees in public policy.

Graduate School

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