2020 Best Online Schools for Political Science Degrees
Students of an online political science degree program will 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. Online political science degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Aspiring political scientists will find 8 strong choices on our list of the best online master's degrees in political science. Schools are ranked based on tuition and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.
There is no specific programmatic accreditation agency focused on political science degrees. However, as with all subjects, it is important for prospective students to verify the institutional accreditation status of any school they are considering attending in order to ensure their degree meets national standards.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Political Science Degrees
Online Political Science Degree Overview & Career Information
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 positions in this field. Graduates may pursue employment as policy analysts, research assistants, or administrators in public, private, and non-profit organizations. During the degree program, students spend four years studying general education requirements, as well as major classes like macroeconomics, microeconomics, American history, American government, comparative politics, foreign policy, and legal writing.
There are several online master's programs that can benefit someone aspiring to a career in political science. Both the Master of Public Administration and the Master of Public Policy degree programs typically focus on the professional skills needed to analyze and create policy, such as research methods, statistics, and program evaluation. The Master of Arts in political science provides training in political science research methods. These programs allow students to specialize in a particular area, such as international relations, public law, and comparative democracy.
Online Associate Degrees in Political Science
If you have a keen interest in learning about the behavior and impact of political systems and governmental affairs, an associate degree in political science could help you access tools and knowledge in the industry. Students explore the history of political systems, as well as current trends and concepts. Additionally, they develop skills in critical analysis, public speaking, and written communication.
The program requires two years of full-time study and contains between 60 and 64 credit hours. Qualified candidates should have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Associate degree programs in political science give students a broad overview of the field. Common classes include international relations, comparative politics, principles of microeconomics, principles of macroeconomics, political philosophy, government and policy, statistics, writing, US government, and global conflicts. Students must take a number of courses in the social sciences as well.
Associate degree holders may go on to become legal assistants, political fundraisers, campaign workers, and fundraisers after graduation. They may work in numerous settings, including non-profit organizations, government facilities, law offices, and labor organizations. Many of them also join professional organizations that support their career development, such as the American Political Science Association. Professionals who want to advance into positions with more authority and responsibility should enroll in bachelor's degree programs in this field.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science
Online bachelor's degrees in political science generally take four years to complete for full-time students. Prospective political science majors will need to have a high school diploma or GED in order to enroll in a bachelor's degree program. Most schools will require that applicants submit trancripts from high school, as well as standardized test scores. Some schools may also require personal statements of some sort as part of the application process.
Students in an online bachelor's degree program can expect to take a variety of general education requirements in addition to more specific political science classes. Depending on the school, general education requirements might include math, science, English, history, and psychology, and electives in the humanities and arts. Once students begin their political science curriculum, they will likely take courses in mass communications, statistical analysis, government structure, political theories and methods, economics, and business.
Many political science undergraduate students complete internships in addition to or as part of their degree program. They can volunteer for lobbyist organizations or work at non-profit agencies. Some students travel abroad or to Washington, DC, to complete their internships, and many schools offer school credit to those who do. However, many political science graduates go on to law school or to earn a master's degree in the field, where there are opportunities for all kinds of careers. Those who have bachelor's degrees typically work for polling companies, news organizations, non-profits, or lobbyist organizations.
Online Master's Degrees in Political Science
Individuals hoping to have careers in political analysis, working for government agencies, individual politicians, or private companies, may want to consider pursuing a master's degree in political science. A master's degree can be a helpful step in the process of becoming a politician or a political scientist. To learn more about online master's programs in political science, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Political Science
A doctorate of political science is the most advanced degree a scholar can earn. Students must complete three to four years of coursework, most of which is based in reading, writing, and discussion. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, though not necessarily in political science, and some relevant experience. Most schools prefer applicants who also have master's degrees in political science or a related field. Earning a doctorate requires completing a dissertation, and some students create their own research projects. The goal is to create an academic piece on an original topic that demonstrates a student's mastery.
Students will take courses in research methods, statistics, political analysis, media, communications, and political theory to earn their degrees. Most students participate in research studies or hold internships or part-time jobs to help them build strong resumes and to directly apply what they are learning.
Many top political analysts and operatives have doctoral degrees in political science. They are the top experts in their fields, and politicians, political agencies, and news organizations seek their advice and opinions. Other doctors of political science become professors at universities and colleges, teaching undergraduate and graduate classes and writing and publishing academic material.
Online Certificates in Political Science
A certificate in political science is offered by some universities and community colleges as a chance for people who are interested in learning more about political science to do so without committing to a full degree program. A certificate in political science can take anywhere from a couple of months to an entire year to earn, depending on the program. Many certificate programs are not accredited, so students will not be able to transfer any credits earned through these programs to full-fledged degrees. Students who are interested in transferring should choose to complete a two-year associate degree at a community college instead.
A political science certificate is a short-term experience, and course offerings will be limited. Most programs will expect that applicants already have a base of knowledge to build on, so instructors do not have to repeatedly go over the basics. Most programs have a highly structured curriculum with classes that explore current issues and topics in domestic and world affairs, as well as law and business.
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 and many students are comforted by the fact that accredited schools undergo regular auditing processes that are designed to protect them from fraud or substandard education. Also, 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 US Department of Education.
Students in online political science degree programs study history, communication, administration, policy, and a number of other subjects that are applicable to jobs in both public and private organizations. These liberal arts programs discuss the function of government and how public policy is created. The interdisciplinary nature of this degree helps to prepare graduates for a variety of careers. Here are just some of the careers that political science graduates can work toward:
- Administrator: Graduates are well equipped to enter administrator or assistant administrator positions in local, state, and federal government agencies. Others can become managers in healthcare settings, community service organizations, non-profits, or the private sector.
- Campaign Organizer: People running for political office hire teams to help them organize their campaigns and get elected. This staff gathers useful information about voter issues, responds to media, schedules events, and makes sure that the people running for office get their message out.
- Journalist: An understanding of geopolitical issues can be very useful for becoming a politics or news reporter. The political science background also focuses on reading and writing skills, which are vital for newspaper and news magazine journalists.
- Lawyer: Practitioners of the law benefit from a foundation in political science in order to provide history, context, and expertise in the nature of legal ideas.
- Policy Analyst: Policy analysts work in government agencies, non-profits, and private organizations to keep track of legislative and judicial action and to analyze the effects of particular policies. Analysts also investigate new policy proposals to predict the effects of new legislation.
- Political Organizer: Political organizers spread the word about a particular political movement or issue. They canvas communities to rally support, organize volunteers, and monitor news breaks to stay on top of developments related to their cause.
- Political Scientist: These academic experts work in policy analysis, and the majority of them are enlisted for work by the federal government.
- Public Official: Many senators, congressmen, and other governmental executives and legislators have studied political science academically to prepare for their careers.
- Bachelor of Arts, Political Science. Arizona State University Online. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-arts-political-science.
- Major in Political Science. University of Maryland University College. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.umuc.edu/academic-programs/bachelors-degrees/political-science-major.cfm.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-3.
- Online Master of Arts in Diplomacy. Norwich University. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://diplomacy.norwich.edu.
- Political Science and Government. Ashford University. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.ashford.edu/degrees/online/ba-political-science.htm.
- Government. Johns Hopkins University: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://advanced.jhu.edu/academics/graduate-degree-programs/government/.
- Graduate Government & Public Administration Degree Programs. Regent University: Robertson School of Government. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.regent.edu/acad/schgov/academics/home.cfm.
- Master of Arts in Political Science. Virginia Tech: College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://liberalarts.vt.edu/academics/graduate-programs/masters-programs-list/master-of-arts-in-political-science.html.
- Masters in Political Science Online. University of West Florida. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://uwf.edu/cassh/departments/government/graduate-programs/masters-in-political-science-online-/.
- NASPAA Accreditation. NASPAA. Accessed March 8, 2018. https://accreditation.naspaa.org/.
- Online Master's Degree: MS in Political Science. Southern New Hampshire University. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-political-science.
- Online Programs. University of Nebraska, Omaha: School of Public Administration. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-public-affairs-and-community-service/public-administration/academics/online-programs.php.
- Politics & Public Policy. GW Online. Accessed March 8, 2018. https://online.gwu.edu/politics-public-policy.
- Teaching Civics and Government. Kansas State University: Global Campus. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://global.k-state.edu/education/curriculum-and-instruction/teaching-civics-and-government/.
- The Online Political Science Master’s Degree. The University of Illinois, Springfield. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.uis.edu/politicalscience/curriculum/mastersdegree/online-masters-degree/.