2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Political Science
An online master's degree in political science combines research, theory, and policy studies all while developing a student's skills in communication, critical thinking, writing, and research. There are a variety of political science careers to explore, though graduates primarily work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or political campaigns. Some online degree programs may include an exploration of political theory and political philosophy as well as more practical subjects, such as campaign strategies and international relations.
Online Political Science Master's Degrees You May Be Interested In
Liberty University (LU) is a private, Christian institution with a Master of Science in Political Science, requiring the completion of 36 credit hours. Typically, students graduate in one-and-a-half years while studying full time.
All online courses at LU are delivered through the Canvas learning management system (LMS). This distance learning software allows students to study 100% online and on a flexible schedule. LU's online political science degree explores a variety of political subjects — such as international relations and political processes — as well as developing fundamental political science skills. Among the major requirements are Economics and Public Policy, Political Philosophy, and Introduction to Geopolitics and International Diplomacy. Additionally, students must complete a six-credit thesis project. Upon graduation, students are often prepared to pursue roles as survey researchers, legislative assistants, and campaign managers.
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a private university offering a Master of Arts in Government requiring 36 credit hours. If studying full time, students can complete this program between 16 and 24 months. Students may choose from three areas of concentration: (1) Democracy Studies and Governance, (2) Security Studies, and (3) Political Communications.
At JHU, students use the Canvas LMS to access their core courses, which are taught completely online. The classes for the government master's degree are mostly delivered asynchronously; although, some may occur on a set schedule. The curriculum for this program brings together political theory with practical skills development in order to prepare students for a modern-day political workplace. In addition to several core courses dedicated to research and thesis preparation, other courses include Government and Politics, Probability and Statistics, and Fundamentals of Quantitative Methods. Graduates may earn career opportunities at Capitol Hill, government agencies, and various public and private organizations.
Arizona State University (ASU) is a public institution with a Master of Arts in Political Psychology that requires 30 credit hours. In general, the average completion time for a master's degree is around two years for full-time students.
At ASU, students use Canvas as their LMS, where courses are delivered fully online and asynchronously. The core curriculum for this program teaches students about political decision-making in voters, partisan polarization, government interactions, and campaign strategies — all within a psychological framework. Here are three examples of required courses: Fundamentals of Political Psychology, Attitudes and Persuasion, and Biopolitics. Students must also complete a capstone project to build on the theories learned in the program. Career opportunities may include media strategist, campaign manager, and political analyst.
The George Washington University (GW) is a private university that offers a Master of Professional Studies in Political Management. This degree requires 36 credit hours, which is generally completed in two years while studying with a full-time course load. There are three topical clusters to choose from for elective courses: (1) Applied Proficiencies, (2) Advocacy Politics, and (3) Electoral Politics. There's also the option of choosing a Global Politics concentration.
Blackboard is the main LMS used by GW students pursuing their online degrees. They can complete the political management program entirely online or in a hybrid format. Even when pursuing online study, however, students receive a hands-on approach to the core curriculum, including the strategies and tactics used to advance legislation and impact public opinion. For the major, students must complete classes such as Fundamentals of Political Management, Applied Political Communications, and Political Data and Analytics. A capstone seminar is also required. Graduates may explore professional roles as political analysts and campaign managers.
American Public University System (APUS) is a private set of institutions offering a Master of Arts in Political Science that requires 36 credit hours. Typically, students complete a master's program in around two years while studying full time.
At APUS, students use MyClassroom as the LMS for their remote courses, which can be completed fully online. This program is part skill development, and part theory combined with process. Students develop skills in writing, research, analytics, and communication while exploring political institutions, foreign policy, and comparative politics. Required classes include The U.S. Presidency, Congress, and Bureaucracy; Political Philosophy; and International Political Systems. A portfolio and critical reflection paper capstone is also required. Graduates may explore roles in federal and local government, military agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
List Of Accredited Online Political Science Schools
|School||Online Enrollment||Annual Tuition|
|Johns Hopkins University||28,830||$58,720|
|Arizona State University||15,537||$29,438|
|The George Washington University||9,538||$59,870|
|American Public University System||9,329||$7,360|
|Regent University Online||5,113||$18,820|
|The University of West Florida||3,451||$19,241|
|Fort Hays State University||2,462||$15,870|
|Sam Houston State University||1,793||$18,752|
Overview of an Online Political Science Degree
An online master’s degree in political science can be a stepping stone into the world of politics. However, if you’re not looking to become a politician, there are many other career opportunities: economist, urban and regional planner, and postsecondary teacher, to name a few.
A bachelor’s degree is typically required to apply for a master’s program. Students must also meet GPA and ACT or SAT score requirements. As with most master’s programs, prospective students can expect to spend at least two years in a full-time program to obtain a political science master’s degree.
Can You Get a Political Science Master’s Degree Online?
An accredited program indicates that an institution meets or exceeds the minimum quality standards in delivering postsecondary education programs. Our list provides you with the best online political science degrees from accredited institutions.
Common Courses for a Political Science Master’s Program
An online master’s degree curriculum in political science provides the foundation for students to excel in the field. Alongside courses, prospective students can expect to complete a thesis — non-thesis tracks are available at some universities — and a capstone course, if applicable.
Below are some of the most typical core courses you can expect in a master's program online or otherwise:
What Can You Do With a Political Science Master’s Degree?
With an online master's in political science, you have a variety of career directions that you can take. While many assume a political science degree is solely to obtain a career in law or the government, graduates have a variety of industries they can work in. Education, government, law, and business, are a few examples of industries where graduates with an online political science master’s degree may find employment.
For those who enjoy conducting research in the political realm, a career as a political scientist may be the best fit. Political scientists study political systems by examining their origin, development, and operation. They typically work in an office, which can vary depending on each company’s work environment.
For an economist, a typical work day involves analyzing and interpreting data to solve economic issues that may affect a country’s resources. In addition, they’re responsible for drafting and preparing tables, charts, and reports on socioeconomic data to forecast potential problems that may arise in the future. Economists work in an office setting and may collaborate with biostatisticians to complete projects.
Urban and Regional Planner
Urban and regional planners help plan, design, and develop residential and commercial facilities. These professionals aim to revitalize urban communities by building additional housing and community buildings within a specific neighborhood or city. Urban and regional planners often have a full schedule and may occasionally work weekends to finish projects and attend community events.
For those who have a passion for educating others on political science, a career as a postsecondary teacher may fulfill their need. This teaching profession is at the collegiate level. Professors may find work at local community colleges and four-year institutions.
Is There Money in Political Science?
Yes, though it depends on which career path master's graduates take. For example, a career as a political scientist can bring in over six figures for graduates with a master’s degree. As exemplified above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that political scientists earned a median salary of $122,510 in 2021, and this position has a 9% job outlook within the next eight years. Even the other political science jobs listed above have annual salaries and job outlooks above the U.S.average across all jobs, which is $45,760 and 8%, respectively.
In addition, many graduates use a master’s degree in political science as a stepping stone to becoming a politician or lawyer, which are positions that also may lead to annual salaries between six to seven figures.
Certification and Licensure H3
While certification and licensure are not required to have a career in political science, they can help those who want to amp up their resume with a public policy and analysis certification.
The Academy of Certified Political Analysis offers certificates to become certified in political science and political legal analysis. Applicants must have a degree in politics and 18 credit hours of relevant coursework from a graduate program.
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Online Students
Paying for a graduate program can become pricey without help from financial aid to cover the costs of tuition, books, and other necessities. In addition, many students may want to acquire as many grants and scholarships as possible before applying for student loans.
Thankfully, many scholarships are available to offer financial assistance to students pursuing a master’s degree in political science.
For tips about how to receive free money for college, see our 2022 Guide to Scholarships.
Is a Master’s Degree in Political Science Worth It?
Before applying to one of the best online political science degree programs above, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of this specialty:
Many political scientists have a high earning potential. As mentioned earlier, careers as political scientists or economists often lead to six-figure salaries for graduates with a master’s degree in political science.
A master’s degree in political science is a great stepping stone toward law school. While a degree in political science is not required to apply for law school, it provides the foundation of political theory and ideologies that can benefit future lawyers.
Career opportunities are abundant in this field. Graduates gain writing, research, and analysis skills throughout the program that can be applied to many careers beyond working in government and law.
Some graduates may experience a poor work-life balance. Depending on which career path a graduate from a master in political science online degree takes, they may have higher stress levels. As with most careers in politics, professionals can endure a lot of high-pressure situations. In addition, many jobs in political science require working overtime and weekends to meet deadlines.
An online degree can delay the development of strong interpersonal skills. With an online degree program, making personal connections with your virtual peers is harder. Strong communication skills, such as public speaking, are a significant aspect of many political science careers. Thus, those with an online master's degree in political science may face more difficulties with this skill set after graduation.
Master’s graduates compete with PhD alumni for certain professions. In political science, it’s much easier to move up the ladder with a doctorate. Many graduates with an online master’s degree in political science may be overlooked for specific roles, such as a college professor. For those interested in a teaching career, particularly at the collegiate level, a PhD may be the best route.