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2023 Best Online Political Science Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/21/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science Badge

Students in an online political science degree program study the history, development, and operation of policies and systems. The degrees on this page offer a wide variety of degree focuses, including international relations, military studies, and public affairs. Overall, an online bachelor’s in political science gives students the opportunity to explore American politics, foreign relations, and political processes. A few examples of standard courses include American Foreign Affairs, Political Theory, and Constitutional Law. Depending on which online degree program they may pursue, students may be required to take seminar courses, a capstone course, or an internship. Graduates may pursue careers in political science — such as legislative assistants, and policy analysts — or they may decide to pursue an affordable political science master's program.

View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science Badge
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Online Political Science Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Political Science Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 University of Maryland Global Campus 100 100 $52,749
# 2 #2 American Public University System 96 $46,663
# 3 #3 Liberty University 75 $38,561
# 4 #4 Arizona State University 70 $37,568
# 5 #5 Pennsylvania State University 69 $37,482
# 6 #6 University of Iowa 68 $37,220
# 7 #7 Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis 68 $37,170
# 8 #8 University of Massachusetts - Lowell 67 $36,914
# 9 #9 University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth 65 $36,557
# 10 #10 Eastern Kentucky University 58 $35,263

#1 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $52,749
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Political Science totaling 120 credit hours. Full-time students can complete this program within four years. UMGC’s accepts all students who apply, which means that the school has a lower graduation rate of 30%.

UMGC facilitates asynchronous online learning on the software platform LEO. The political science program helps students develop a thorough understanding of U.S. and global politics, with courses like Global Political Economy, American Foreign Relations, and Global Terrorism. Students must complete a capstone course to graduate. Graduates may go on to enter careers like political consultants, economists, and lobbyists.

#2 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 96
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,663
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At American Public University System (APUS) — a private, for-profit institution — prospective students can pursue two political science degrees online: (1) a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and (2) a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Security. Each requires 120 credit hours and can take students around four years to complete. The university has an open admissions policy, which means they accept 100% of students who apply. However, it has a lower-than-average graduation rate of 18%.

APUS’s online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously through the learning management system D2L Brightspace. A bachelor’s in political science curriculum at APUS covers topics like public issues, policy, and comparative governments. Courses include Middle Eastern Studies, Peacekeeping, and Globalization and Human Security. Both programs also require students to complete a seminar. Prospective careers for alumni include political scientists, reporters, and analysts.

#3 Liberty University

  • Salary Score: 75
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,561
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University (LU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Political Science that totals 120 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to spend 3.5 years finishing this program. LU’s acceptance rate is 99%, and it has a 36% graduation rate. It's important to mention that students are "prohibited from statements and behaviors that are associated with LGBT lifestyle." It's unclear how many of these rules and regulations extend to online students, but Liberty is likely not a good option for LGBTQ students.

At LU, online students complete courses asynchronously and synchronously on Canvas. The program prepares students for political careers from a Christian perspective. Example courses are American Political Processes, International Relations, and American Foreign Policy. In addition to coursework, a seminar is required during senior year. Graduates may enter careers ranging from social activists and legislators to court reporters.

#4 Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,568
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU) is a public institution that offers two online political science degrees: (1) a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and (2) a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Both programs total 120 credit hours and last approximately four years. The university accepts 70% of those who apply, with 47% of students earning their diplomas.

ASU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Canvas. The arts program adds a foreign language component, while the science program includes statistics and science. Some of the program’s courses are Political Statistics, Empirical Political Inquiry, and Global Politics. Potential career options include politicians, political scientists, and legal assistants.

#5 Pennsylvania State University

  • Salary Score: 69
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,482
  • Locations: State College (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

At Pennsylvania State University (PSU), a public institution, prospective students can pursue two online bachelor’s degrees in political science, including a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (123 credit hours) and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science (120 credit hours). It can take four years for a full-time student to complete one of these programs. PSU’s acceptance rate is 92%, and it has a 70% graduation rate.

PSU’s online students complete courses through the learning platform Canvas in asynchronous and synchronous formats. The political science program prepares students to assume roles in politics, policy, and international affairs, with courses such as Political Theory, The Politics of Terrorism, and Political Methodology. Alumni often pursue careers like legislators, community organizers, and community organizers.

#6 University of Iowa

  • Salary Score: 68
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,220
  • Locations: Iowa City (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Iowa (UI) is a public university offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science that totals 120 credit hours. Prospective students generally complete this program in four years. The university accepts 86% of applicants, and even with this rather high acceptance rate, 71% graduate.

At UI, online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously on the learning management system ICON. The political science degree helps students pursue various opportunities in politics and international relations. Sample courses include Latin American Politics, Politics of Natural Disasters, and Problems in Methods. Also, a first-year seminar is required. Prospective careers for graduates are nonprofit administrators, government executives, and news analysts.

#7 Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

  • Salary Score: 68
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,170
  • Locations: Indianapolis (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IU Online) is a public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Political Science equaling 120 credit hours. Full-time students may complete this degree in four years. IU accepts 84% of students, with 52% graduating.

IU facilitates asynchronous online learning on Canvas. A bachelor’s in political science at IU helps students develop critical thinking and analytical skills through courses, such as Analyzing Politics, West European Politics, and Political Philosophy. Students must complete a senior seminar to graduate. Prospective careers for alumni in this field include political scientists, social activists, and court reporters.

#8 University of Massachusetts - Lowell

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Median Starting Salary: $36,914
  • Locations: Lowell (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

At the University of Massachusetts - Lowell (UML), a public institution, future students can pursue an online Bachelor of Liberal Arts - Political Science totaling 120-122 credit hours. Prospective students with a full-time schedule can expect to spend four years to finish this program. UML’s acceptance rate is 85%, with a graduation rate of 62%.

UML’s online students complete coursework delivered asynchronously and synchronously on Blackboard. The program includes liberal arts core classes with political science electives. Example courses include Politics of the Internet, The Politics of Food, and American Presidency. Potential career options for graduates are political scientists, economists, and management analysts.

#9 University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Median Starting Salary: $36,557
  • Locations: North Dartmouth (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) is a public university offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science that requires 120 credit hours. It can take around four years to complete this program with a full class schedule. The university accepts 92% of students, with 58% graduating.

UMass Dartmouth facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Blackboard. The program offers a pre-law concentration to prepare students for law school. Sample courses include Public Policy in America, Constitutional Law, and Public Administration. Students must complete an internship to graduate. Prospective careers for graduates are lawyers, urban planners, and press secretaries.

#10 Eastern Kentucky University

  • Salary Score: 58
  • Median Starting Salary: $35,263
  • Locations: Richmond (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU Online) is a public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science totaling 120 credit hours. Future students can complete this program within four years. EKU Online’s acceptance rate is 98%, with a 49% graduation rate.

At EKU, online students complete coursework through Blackboard in asynchronous and synchronous formats. This program helps students develop the critical skills to assume careers in political science. The program’s courses are The U.S. Congress, Urban Politics, and Administrative Law. Students must complete a capstone course to graduate. Graduates may go on to careers like campaign managers, research assistants, and policy analysts.

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Overview of Online Political Science Programs

What Is a Political Science Degree?

Political science is the study of political systems and behaviors. During the degree program, students spend four years studying subjects that include macroeconomics, microeconomics, American history, American government, comparative politics, foreign policy, legal writing, and more. Online degrees in political science are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. 

A bachelor's in political science is generally an entry-level requirement for many careers in this field.

In order to be accepted into a program in political science, students must typically have obtained a high school diploma. Some schools may also require entrance exams, like the SAT or ACT. A degree in political science can be expensive, but scholarships may be available for exceptional students.

Can You Get a Political Science Degree Online?

It’s possible to get an online degree in political science, but you should make sure to obtain a degree from an accredited university.

All of the degrees we recommend are accredited.

Accreditation is a designation awarded to a school on the condition that the school meets certain academic and proprietary standards. This process holds schools accountable. Accredited schools undergo regular auditing processes that are designed to protect students from fraud or substandard education. Only accredited schools may offer federal financial aid, which helps many students with educational costs.

Students can check the accreditation status of the schools they are considering through the database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education.

Common Courses for a Political Science Major

Courses in political science are designed to educate students about government structures, the history of different political systems, and more. Courses offered by political science departments may also overlap with other subjects including history, sociology, philosophy, economics, and psychology.

American Government and Politics

This foundational course exposes students to the history and structure of U.S. government and political systems. This may include the constitution and constitutional law, the role of different branches of government, and the history and development of American government institutions and political parties. Students will gain a better understanding of how politics operates in North America.

Political Philosophy

This class exposes students to the theoretical underpinnings of political concepts. Students will learn about the philosophical analysis of cities, states, democracies, and other forms of government. They may be exposed to authors throughout the Western philosophical canon, including Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and more. Studying the philosophical basis for various political ideologies can help students to gain a better understanding of why and how varied political systems work.

Media, Opinion, and Voting

The intent of coursework is to help students examine the intersection between mass media, public opinion, and U.S. voting behavior. This includes the responsibility politicians, journalists, and citizens should assume to improve voter turnout and engagement with electoral politics.

International Relations

Students who take an International Relations course will learn about politics on a global scale. Some topics in international relations may include economics, culture, global security, human rights, and more. Students may be exposed to current events and analyses of different geopolitical forces.

Religion and World Politics

This course explores the relationship between religion and politics across the world. Students learn about how religion and politics have influenced one another throughout different historical time periods and in different countries, and will gain exposure to major world religions and political systems.

State of the World

Discussions help students establish an understanding of contemporary global issues including, but not limited to, human rights, environmental protection, poverty and underdevelopment, and war and peace. A global perspective on world affairs is emphasized.

What Can You Do With a Political Science Degree?

While many people who pursue a degree in political science go on to pursue careers in politics, this is far from the only career path available to those who study political science. Students studying this major learn important skills when it comes to written and verbal communication, critical thinking skills, and analysis. Graduates are well-suited to a wide variety of career paths, including work with political campaigns and government agencies as well as nonprofits and businesses in the private sector.

Below are a few typical career paths that graduates of political science degrees pursue:

Political Scientists

Median Annual Salary: $122,510
Job Growth: 6%

Political scientists study the origin and development of political systems. They also look for solutions to contemporary problems in politics. Many political scientists are employed by institutions of higher education, and may also be asked to consult for political campaigns or organizations.


Median Annual Salary: $127,990
Job Growth: 10%

A degree in political science is one way that individuals can prepare for a career as a lawyer. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in political science or another similar field, students will also have to obtain a law degree from an accredited institution.


Median Annual Salary: $48,370
Job Growth: -9%

Political science majors are well-equipped to pursue careers as journalists, especially if they’re interested in covering politics or current events. Career tracks include print journalism, broadcast journalism, digital media, and more.


Median Annual Salary: $105,630
Job Growth: 6%

The studies of political science and economics have a good degree of overlap, which makes an undergraduate degree in political science good preparation for pursuing a career as an economist. Economists study, analyze, and predict economic trends and issues.

Urban and Regional Planners

Median Annual Salary: $78,500
Job Growth: 4%

If you’re interested in the practical application of political goals and ideas, a career in urban and regional planning might be worth considering. Urban and regional planners help to plan and revitalize communities and structures. In order to secure a position as an urban planner, you may need to obtain a master’s degree.

Is a Degree in Political Science Worth It?

Depending on what career you plan to pursue, a degree in political science could help you achieve your goals. Studying political science is excellent preparation for careers in diverse areas, such as government agencies, nonprofits, business, and more.

However, a degree in political science may not be strictly necessary. While studying political science provides students with valuable practical and theoretical knowledge, students who know exactly what career path they plan on taking may benefit from a more targeted and applied course of study. Degrees in political science can also be expensive, and may not benefit your long-term financial situation.

Consider the following pros and cons of an online political science degree:

Potential Advantages

  • Versatile, in-demand skill set: Like other liberal arts degrees, political science teaches multi-purpose skills, like written and verbal communication, analysis, and critical thinking. Students can apply these skills broadly in fields like sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Students also gain a broad understanding of political history and current events, which can be useful in careers like journalism, law, and more.

  • Broadens your understanding of the world: The study of political science is especially well-suited to students who want to learn more about how societies function and why. From current events to age-old questions about human behavior, political science can expose students to a wide variety of concepts and ideas that have immediate relevance in their lives.

  • High potential earnings: A degree in political science can help facilitate several well-paying careers, including political scientists, economists, and more. This can help students to pay off student loans more quickly and set themselves up for financial success.

  • Stepping stone to graduate degrees: A bachelor’s degree in political science makes for an excellent stepping stone for students looking to pursue graduate studies in political science or related fields, like law, journalism, economics, or philosophy.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Less hands-on learning and experience: Since political science courses are often focused on academic concepts, history, and philosophy, students may not gain as much hands-on career experience as some other majors, like business or marketing. Additionally, an online degree may further inhibit in-person experiences, especially networking among peers and professors.

  • No clear-cut answers: Unlike some other majors, there aren’t many clear-cut answers when it comes to the field of political science. This means that students who appreciate having to think critically and make up their own minds may be well-suited for this degree, but students who prefer hard-and-fast rules may become frustrated.

  • Average job growth: Most common career paths for political science majors have only average or slightly above average projected job growth over the next ten years.This isn't necessarily a con, but if you are looking for a career with an above-average, booming job outlook over the next decade, this may not be the best fit.

FAQs About Political Science Degrees

What Is the Difference Between Political Science and Government?

Political science is the theory and practice of government, the history and origin of all political systems, and political systems' values and goals. Government is the existing political system, governing body, and the rules or laws of a community.

Is Political Science a Difficult Major?

A difficulty level is associated with any degree, including a political science major. It takes commitment, dedication, and self-discipline to earn a degree. However, no upper-level math or science is required since political science is a social science.

Is Political Science a Good Career?

Yes, political science is a good field to enter into a career if that's where your interests lie. The BLS predicts that political scientists with a master's degree or higher will see steady 6% job growth through 2031 and earn a $122,510 median salary.

However, political science is also a versatile degree. You can apply the skills you'll develop to other occupations expected to see average to above-average job growth.

Is Political Science a Good Major for Politics?

For students setting their sights on a career in politics, a degree in political science is one way to prepare for work in this field. However, a political science degree can also prepare individuals for careers in various disciplines, including business, sales, marketing, and more. Political science graduates may pursue employment as policy analysts, research assistants, or administrators, and they often work in government agencies and political campaigns. 

Bottom Line

A degree in political science is worth pursuing if you’re interested in a political/government career or if you’re simply interested in the history of political development. Not only does studying political science provide you with experience that’s directly relevant to politics-related careers, but it also gives students valuable, versatile soft skills.

Political science has a lot of overlap with other disciplines in the liberal arts and social sciences, and students interested in a degree in political science may also want to consider online degrees in sociology, history, or economics.

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