2020 Best Online Master's Degrees in Political Science

By OnlineU Staff | Updated March 9, 2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Political Science Badge

The following 12 schools offer the best online master's in political science programs, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Graduates of the #1 school, The George Washington University, report earning a median salary of $155,900. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, ranked #2 on the list, costs $29,559 annually for an online Master of Arts in Political Science, with alumni reportedly earning median salaries of $113,576.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $15,030 $155,900
# 2 #2 $29,559 $113,576
# 3 #3 $4,604 $99,100
# 4 #4 $8,145 $98,360
# 5 #5 $55,530 $110,700
# 6 #6 $15,700 $89,500
# 7 #7 $10,530 $82,632
# 8 #8 $7,769 $71,400
# 9 #9 $13,560 $71,987
# 10 #10 $11,700 $68,500
# 11 #11 $29,232 $66,900
# 12 #12 $9,000 $56,893
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Political Science Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 The George Washington University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,030
  • Median Salary: $155,900
  • Locations: Washington D.C. (DC)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Master of Arts in political science at The George Washington University offers students the opportunity to further their education with a well-rounded and varied curriculum in the discipline. Students are instructed on a range of topics, including U.S. space policy, constitutional law, and Japanese politics. The online political science degree program also offers three tracks: American politics, world politics, and law and politics. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue a career as a political analyst, professor, or political campaign strategist.

#2 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Annual Tuition: $29,559
  • Median Salary: $113,576
  • Locations: Blacksburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offers an online Master of Arts in political science degree that aims to give students a broad and foundational understanding of the discipline. Students receive instruction in the fundamental topics of political science and an understanding of social issues. The curriculum includes coursework in public policy analysis, international politics, and women and globalization. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers in government agencies and political organizations.

#3 Fort Hays State University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,604
  • Median Salary: $99,100
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fort Hays State University offers an online Master of Liberal Arts with a concentration in political science for students who wish to pursue advanced understanding and higher-level career opportunities in the discipline. The 31-credit hour program focuses on providing students instruction in the fundamentals of thinking critically and asking the right questions to see politics differently. Students in the master's program at Fort Hays State University complete coursework on policy analysis, the administration process, American civil liberties, and political behavior.

#4 University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Annual Tuition: $8,145
  • Median Salary: $98,360
  • Locations: Springfield (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Illinois at Springfield's online master's degree in political science offers working professionals the same curriculum and tenure-track faculty as their on-campus program. Concentrations are available in American national and state politics, comparative politics and international relations, political theory, and public law. Program courses explore topics such as the history of political structures, civil liberties, political theories and philosophies, and international relations. The degree requires a total of 40 hours, with 28 hours of electives and eight hours of core courses. The remaining four hours are devoted to a closure exercise; students can fulfill this requirement by completing a thesis, a case study, or a comprehensive exam.

#5 Johns Hopkins University

  • Annual Tuition: $55,530
  • Median Salary: $110,700
  • Locations: Baltimore (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Students in the online Master of Arts in Government program at Johns Hopkins University can concentrate their studies to best suit their interests and goals in the field. The tracks offered include democracy studies and governance, political communication, and security studies. The government program faculty at Johns Hopkins University are experienced academically and professionally in politics, with professors who have worked on the staff of US senators and presidents. Graduation requires the completion of three core courses, eight electives, and a course in research and ethics.

#6 The University of West Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,700
  • Median Salary: $89,500
  • Locations: Pensacola (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of West Florida offers an online master’s in political science program with an option to focus on International Relations. Applicants may start in spring, summer, or fall. The program length is 24 months. To graduate with an MA in political science, students must complete 33 semester hours with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Students must complete a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Core classes cover topics such as comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. This fully online political science degree is synchronous, meaning that students attend live classes via a video conferencing system. This allows for real-time interaction with professors and classmates. While most core courses are in the evenings or at lunchtime, electives are during daytime hours. Requirements for admission are a GRE or MAT score that ranks in the 50th percentile or higher, a bachelor’s degree GPA of at least 3.0, and a sample research paper. The test requirement may be waived for students with an undergraduate degree in political science with a GPA of 3.25 or higher. Online students can access library services, tutoring, technical support, and the writing lab.                                         

#7 Bellevue University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,530
  • Median Salary: $82,632
  • Locations: Bellevue (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Bellevue University offers a Master of Science in Intelligence and Security Studies for students seeking a career in security. With open enrollment, students can begin at nearly any time throughout the year. The MS degree requires 36 credit hours, with 27 required courses and 9 electives. Class sizes are kept to 24 students or less, and faculty have real-world experience. The curriculum focus is on global and national security, major military and geopolitical issues, intelligence systems, and the research skills and critical thinking for assessing threats. Through the program, students build a professional electronic portfolio showcasing their knowledge and skills. Bellevue uses the Cyber-Active online classroom, which allows students to attend lectures and discussions on their own time, interact with classmates and professors, turn in assignments, and conduct research. For admission, students must have a 2.5 or higher undergraduate GPA or a 3.0 or higher in prior master’s level coursework. Some programs require letters of recommendation and essays. MS graduates will earn the following certificates of completion: Intelligence and Security Strategy, Strategic Intelligence, Strategic Deterrence, and either a certificate in Regions, Geopolitics and Strategy, or Security Policy and Conflict.

#8 Sam Houston State University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,769
  • Median Salary: $71,400
  • Locations: Huntsville (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in Political Science at Sam Houston State University has two degree options: a thesis option with 30 credit hours and a written thesis, and a non-thesis option with 36 credit hours and a comprehensive exam. All students are admitted as non-thesis students, but those wishing to pursue a doctorate, or who simply prefer to write a thesis, should petition to switch after finishing initial coursework. The curriculum is designed to serve teachers or those who want to teach, future law students, and individuals looking for careers or advancement in nonprofits or government. Prospective students need to fill out a graduate studies application, for which a fee is required. Other application requirements include official transcripts from prior degrees, a statement of intent, a scholarly or professional writing sample, at least two references, and an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA or other evidence of academic and professional potential, such as GRE scores or an explanation for why the GPA does not reflect the student’s true potential. New 100% online students receive $1,000 scholarships. Online classes allow for a flexible work schedule, and SHSU provides 24/7 support for eLearning.        

#9 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,560
  • Median Salary: $71,987
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University offers an online Master of Science in Political Science with 36 credit hours, which students typically complete in 1.5 years. There are eight different start dates per year. The curriculum follows a broad, theoretical approach, demonstrating how contemporary and historical ideas impact politics and government and exploring the accompanying biblical and philosophical influences. Course subjects include interactions between public policy and economics, markets and market failure, and American foreign policy. The curriculum also incorporates international concerns. Courses are eight weeks long, and students are able to complete their assignments as their schedules allow. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher, an application, and official transcripts. Liberty has video tutorials on all aspects of e-classes and also offers other resources and tools for online students. If they have any further questions, an IT help desk is available for individual support. Liberty also offers a range of discounts to active and retired military, military spouses, veterans, and first responders.

#10 Regent University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $68,500
  • Locations: Virginia Beach (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in Government at Regent University is a 30- to 33-hour, fully online degree program that can be completed in one and a half to two years by full-time students and in three to five years by part-time students. There are eight start dates per year. The available MA concentrations are American Government, Healthcare Policy and Ethics, International Relations, Law and Public Policy, National Security Studies, and Political Campaigns and Elections. Regent is a Christian university founded on biblical principles, and the curriculum at Regent’s Robertson School of Government approaches the training of future leaders through Judeo–Christian principles. Online courses are delivered through Blackboard, which can be used to view assignments, participate in discussions, communicate with professors and peers, and submit assignments. To be admitted, students must have an undergraduate degree and submit an online application, fee, college transcripts, online questionnaire, copy of ID, and their resume with a history of service, school activities, and church activities. GRE scores are optional. MA students are offered access to online IT support, a writing lab, the university library, and a weekly campus chapel, which is broadcast online. There are also career services with development, networking, and job opportunities.                                    

#11 Rutgers University-Camden

  • Annual Tuition: $29,232
  • Median Salary: $66,900
  • Locations: Camden (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Rutgers University – Camden offers an interdisciplinary, 30-credit online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) with a concentration in World History and Politics. Working students with full-time jobs can complete their degree in two and a half to three years while taking no more than two classes a semester. Students able to take three classes per semester can graduate in two years. At the end of their coursework, students demonstrate their analytical, research, and critical skills through a capstone project unique to their interests. The Rutgers’ online MALS degree offers students the chance to design a highly personalized curriculum that targets their individual goals. The coursework is 100% online with small classes designed to be flexible enough to accommodate any schedule. Responses to readings, class discussions, and submissions of papers all take place online. Admission requires the student to have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA (or an explanation of why the GPA is lower), a writing sample, two academic recommendations, and a personal statement. GRE test scores are not required.             

#12 University of Nebraska at Omaha

  • Annual Tuition: $9,000
  • Median Salary: $56,893
  • Locations: Omaha (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The master’s in political science online program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha requires 30 credit hours, has a thesis and non-thesis option, and offers concentrations in International Affairs and American Government. Working students typically finish in two years, but full-time students taking classes year-round can finish faster. The online Master of Science in Political Science program has the same courses and the same faculty as the on-campus program. Students can specialize by taking at least 12 hours of coursework in another discipline, such as criminal justice, economics, social work, or urban studies. Asynchronous coursework can be accessed 24/7, and approved internships may be completed in students’ home areas. For admission, students need two letters of recommendation, the application and fee, official undergraduate transcripts, a resume, an academic writing sample, a letter of intent, and two professional or academic references. Although 15 hours of undergraduate political science coursework is preferred, some students can be provisionally admitted without. MS students can choose to take additional coursework to earn a Certificate in Government (18 credit hours) or a Graduate Certificate in Intelligence and National Security (15 credit hours). Online student support services are the same as on-campus services and include tech support, the writing center, the library, and academic advising.

Online Master's in Political Science Overview

Program Requirements

To qualify for master’s in political science programs, students must hold bachelor's degrees. Many schools also require applicants to submit resumes detailing their relevant job, internship, and volunteer experience. Applicants must also submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Earning a master’s degree in political science requires two years of coursework, or 30 units.

Curriculum

Students typically begin their degree program by taking courses in communications, political theories, political structures and methodologies, sociology, business, law, the criminal justice system, and elections. Most students specialize in a certain area of political science and structure their curriculum around their chosen concentration. Most political science master’s programs have a thesis requirement. Students spend many months choosing a topic, developing their research processes, and working with professors to write and edit their thesis.

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