2021 Best Online Masters in Political Science Programs

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If you’re interested in the way political systems and governments operate and want to play a part in the development of laws or policies, then earning an online masters in political science might be the right path for you.

Masters in Political Science Programs

Positions in this field can range from political scientist to news correspondent and beyond.

Whether you specialize in international affairs, American political systems, or political theory, there may be a number of career paths available with higher than average salaries and positive career growth projections.

Online Political Science Masters Programs

Political Science Masters Programs

Enrolling in an online political science master’s program can help prepare you for a rewarding career engaging in social advocacy, policy development, or operating within various political systems.

Political science positions can include:

  • Political scientist
  • Community college professor
  • Social scientist
  • Economist
  • Political consultant
  • News correspondent

Poli sci professionals can also work in a diverse selection of industries, such as government, nonprofit, media, research, education, management and consulting, or finance. Depending on the school you choose to attend, you may be able to enroll in an M.A. in Political Science or M.S. in Political Science program.

A variety of specializations are also be available to you as part of your degree, including:

  • International relations
  • Comparative politics
  • American politics
  • Political theory

As part of your master’s degree program, you may be required to complete a variety of courses. Common topics include the role of social capital in politics, law and inequality, global issues in politics, public policy, and writing for public affairs. Some programs also require you to complete a thesis as part of your studies.

Careers in Political Science

Careers in Political Science

The majority of political science professionals find work in the federal government. You may also find meaningful employment, though, in academia, research centers, nonprofit organizations, or professional, technical, or scientific services. Some professionals in the field are self-employed, operating their own business.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an MS in Political Science, you may be prepared to take on a variety of roles in the field.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Political Scientists, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $136,640
Political Scientists, Federal Government $133,460
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Economists $108,350
Social Scientists and Related Workers $87,260
Urban and Regional Planners $75,950
Political Scientists, Educational Services $75,260
Public Relations Specialists $62,810
Survey Researchers $59,870
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts $49,300

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a positive job outlook for many positions in this field. For instance, employment for political scientists is expected to grow 6% through 2029.

Other positions in the field that are expected to experience job growth include public relations specialist (7%), public relations and fundraising manager (9%), urban and regional planner (11%), and economist (14%).

Political Science Masters Curriculum

Political Science Masters

As part of a political science masters curriculum, you’ll generally be required to take a variety of courses that cover areas related to American politics, international politics, and political theory, among other topics.

  • American Constitutional Law: You’ll take a look at constitutional law in America, including Supreme Court cases, decisions, and other key materials.
  • Constitutional Politics: This course is a review of constitutional politics based on principles of the Madisonian theory.
  • Civil Liberties in America: This course is an overview of civil liberties law in the American political system, including a review of due process.
  • American Politics and the Two-Party System: You’ll examine the two-party system in America as well as the evolution of national politics over time.
  • Political Campaigns: You’ll look at the functioning of elections and voting in America, along with an exploration of the structure and purpose of political campaigns.
  • Voting Behavior: This course is a review of research and theory on voting behavior, including a look at those who choose to vote and not to vote during elections.
  • Political Participation and Protests: You’ll analyze opinions and behavior in politics and throughout the population, including opinion changes over time and connection between opinion and action.
  • Women and Politics: This course is an examination of gender in American politics over time, including the role women played in forming the current political system.
  • Governance and Administration: This course is an overview of governance in America, including an in-depth review of the White House, Office of the President, and staffing of the national government.
  • Theories of Foreign Policy: You’ll review various theories of foreign policy and international relations, including a look at how foreign policies have developed throughout history.

In addition to various courses, you may also be required to complete a thesis project in order to graduate.

Admissions

Masters in Political Science Admissions

There are a number of admissions criteria that you’ll be required to meet in order to gain enrollment into an online master’s in political science program. Some criteria may include:

  • Bachelors degree. You’re generally required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in a discipline related to political science.
  • GRE or GMAT scores. While it’s becoming less common, some schools still require you to submit GRE or GMAT scores as part of your application.
  • Letters of reference. You typically need to provide reference letters from former academic or workplace supervisors.

Admissions criteria can vary depending on the school you choose to attend.

Accreditation

Masters in Political Science Accreditation

Regional accreditation can be an important consideration when it comes to selecting an online masters in political science program. Accreditation verifies the overall quality of an educational program.

When attending an accredited institution, your academic studies meet a predetermined set of quality standards. The accreditation status of your education can impact your ability to transfer credits and enroll in additional programs down the road. It can even influence the hiring decisions of potential employers.

For more information about the accreditation status of schools and programs you’re interested in attending, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid & Scholarships for Political Science Students

Masters in Political Science Financial Aid

When pursuing a political science master’s program online, you may have a number of financial aid options available to you to help fund your studies. Financial aid can include grants, scholarships, and loans.

The federal and state governments offer qualified individuals loan and grant funding opportunities, and many private and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships. Scholarships and grants generally do not require repayment.

In some cases, there can be additional funding options available to you in the form of employer training programs, work-study programs. Additional funding is often available for members of the military.

For more information, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Political Science Professional Organizations

Political Science Professionals

There are a number of political science professional organizations that may benefit you during or after a master’s in political science program.

Some political science organizations include:

Professional organizations can offer you opportunities to network with other poli sci professionals. You can grow your professional network and may even discover rewarding positions in the field.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Political Science?

Masters in Political Science Careers

A masters in political science can help prepare you for a variety of positions. Common careers in related fields include political scientist, public relations and fundraising manager, economist, social scientist, or urban and regional planner.

Additional career opportunities for graduates can include public relations specialist, survey researcher, reporter, correspondent, or broadcast news analyst. Poli sci professionals in the field work in various industries, such as government, finance, nonprofit, technical and scientific services, research, or professional services.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Masters in Political Science?

Masters in Political Science Jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of positions that you may be qualified for with a graduate degree in political science.

The career path options for graduates can be quite broad, including roles like political scientist, community college instructor, and news correspondent. Political scientists focus on making contributions toward the development of public policy and participation in federal and state government.

Community college teachers, on the other hand, tend to work directly with aspiring poli sci students to help them gain expertise in the field. News correspondents have the opportunity to provide opinions and analyses on various political topics.

How Much Do Political Scientists Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that political scientists earn a median salary of $125,350 per year. Annual earnings can vary depending on the industry you work in, the employer you work for, and the amount of experience that you have to offer.

For example, positions in professional, scientific, and technical services tend to earn more on average, with median earnings of $136,640 per year. In comparison, positions for political scientists in education earn less on average with a median salary of $75,260 per year.

What’s the Difference Between Public Policy vs. Political Science?

Public Policy vs. Political Science

While there are some commonalities between public policy and political science, there are also a number of differences.

  • Political science: Political science focuses more broadly on public administration, governance, political theory, and public policy.
  • Public policy: This field focuses intently on the development, analysis, and advocacy of public policy in the political system on local, national, and international levels.

In some cases, public policy educational offerings can fall within a broader political science program.

What’s the Difference Between Sociology vs. Political Science?

Sociology vs. Political Science

Both sociology and political science are based on the study of social science, but there are differences between the two fields.

  • Sociology: Sociology is the study of groups in society, considering the development and influence of social norms, customs, and laws on various groups of people.
  • Political science: Political science is the study of government, political systems and institutions, and theories relating to political thought and behavior.

Work done in each field tend to lend insight and understanding to one another.

What’s the Difference Between Public Administration vs. Political Science?

Public Administration vs. Political Science

There are areas of similarity and discourse between public administration and political science.

  • Public administration: This field prioritizes management of government institutions and the implementation of policy and law, extending into financial management and human resource management.
  • Political science: This field focuses on understanding the landscape of politics within America and across the world to support the development of appropriate policy and analysis of current and emerging political trends.

Both public administration and political science work within the American governance system and play important roles in the functioning of local, national, and international functions of government.

Is a Masters Degree in Political Science Worth It?

Yes, a master’s degree in political science is worth it for many professionals. Earning your degree can allow you to concentrate on topics related to law, policy, and administration. You can also pursue topics related to the Supreme Court, law and inequality, global issues in politics, and current and emerging public policy.

Graduates tend to pursue various roles, such as political scientist, community college professor, social scientist, economist, political consultant, or news correspondent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% job growth for political scientists in particular over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Political Science Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University

Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of West Florida

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Masters in Political Science Online

Masters in Political Science Online

If you want to participate in the development of public policies and laws, analyze political trends, and keep up to date on current issues in politics, then earning a master’s in political science may be the right path for you.

Pursing your degree in political science online can help prepare you for a variety of careers in government, nonprofit, finance, advocacy, research, education, or self-employment.

If you’re ready to advance your career in this lucrative field, you can start today by researching online political science master’s degree programs from accredited universities.

After you complete your masters degree online, you may want to consider whether it would benefit your career goals to apply for an online PhD in Political Science program at an accredited university.

Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda’s focus is on employment, entrepreneurship, business, and training and development.