2021 Best Online Political Science Degrees
If you’re interested in government, legislation, campaigning, and public policy, then an online political science degree may be the college program that’s right for you.
As a political science major, you can learn to analyze and evaluate issues related to law and governance and to share your findings with others.
Political studies are relevant to nearly every aspect of work and life in a community. Earning a degree in political science can help prepare you for a job or further education in public service, politics, law, media, or another exciting field.
Online Political Science Degrees
As you earn an online degree in political science, you may learn to think analytically and critically about matters related to politics, government. and legislation. Your courses may address American governance, international politics, economics, and justice.
Topics that you’ll cover might include policy analysis, constitutional law, the court system, and foreign policy. Political science programs often offer course topics like political theory, local politics, US government, political inquiry, and policy evaluation.
As you study these topics, you may develop a range of skills that can be of benefit in both the political sphere and other sectors. These skills might include:
- Critical thinking
- Data analysis
- Listening to diverse perspectives
- Persuasive communication
You might be able to select a concentration area for your political science major. With a concentration, your upper-level courses would focus on in-depth study of one particular aspect of the political science field. The options for a concentration might include political theory, American government, or foreign relations.
In addition to coursework, your time in school might include an optional or required internship experience. Potential internship sites include congressional offices, local government agencies, political campaigns, think tanks, and community nonprofits.
Studying abroad can be another way to enrich your understanding of comparative politics or international relations.
A degree in political science can serve as the foundation for a career in government, nonprofit work, education, or the private sector. Potential job titles include policy analyst, communications director, public relations specialist, legislative aide, and market research analyst.
Having this bachelors degree can also help prepare you for graduate studies in law or political science. With a masters or doctorate in political science, you might be considered an expert in policy analysis, economic trends, or political research.
Political Science Careers & Salaries
Online degrees in political science can prepare students to enter a variety of fields. Not surprisingly, some graduates enter the political and legislative arena as policy analysts, press secretaries, or legislative aides.
If you’re interested in getting involved in matters of policy and governance, you can pursue work for a political leader, a government agency, or a non-governmental organization.
The nonprofit sector offers a variety of job options. The skills acquired in a political science program can help you launch a career in nonprofit advocacy, research, development, communications, or management.
Other people might appreciate learning from your political science knowledge. You may consider sharing information or your opinions as a journalist, an on-air reporter, or an author.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a political science degree can be a good foundation for a wide variety of careers.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$133,460|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$118,430|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$69,600|
|Writers and Authors||$67,120|
|Market Research Analysts||$65,810|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,810|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$52,920|
|Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts||$49,300|
Some of these careers require additional training beyond a political science bachelor’s degree. Further education can open the doors to additional opportunities.
Positions for political scientists often require a master’s degree. This job category includes a variety of researchers and policy analysts. Political scientists can work for the government, educational institutions, and grantmaking organizations.
While your knowledge of policy matters can be especially useful in government or nonprofit work, you may find that your skills are useful in the private sector also. Public relations and social media management are career options you may pursue. Advertising or market research could also draw on your political science training.
A bachelor’s degree in political science can be a valuable asset for a career in education. For example, with a teaching license, you could be a high school teacher who teaches history, government, or civics. You might be able to take required teaching courses concurrently with your political science program or after graduation.
Political science can also be a good undergrad major if you’re interested in law school and a legal career.
Political Science Curriculum & Courses
Some of the courses listed below might be similar to the core classes for your school’s political science program. When studying for a political science degree, you may also select a variety of electives that correspond with your area of interest.
- American Governmental System: In an introductory class on American politics and government, you’ll explore elections, the Constitution, and the branches of the federal government.
- Comparative Politics: This course is an opportunity to learn about different political systems around the world.
- Constitutional Law: You’ll learn what the Constitution does and does not say, and there will probably be an emphasis on the judicial branch of the government.
- International Relations: The topics in this class can include diplomacy, military conflict, economics, and human rights.
- Justice Studies: The diverse range of subjects covered in this course can include theories on what justice entails and various approaches to achieving it.
- Fundamentals of the Legal System: This course covers court and corrections systems, the judicial process, and criminal justice ethics.
- News Media and Politics: You can explore how the news media influences politics and public perception of current events.
- Political Campaigning: Discussion points in this class can include the electoral system, voting habits, suffrage movements, campaigning regulations, and political parties.
- Political Thought: Your time in this course may be spent reading and discussing the ideas of influential political thinkers.
- Research in Political Science: You’ll explore quantitative and qualitative methods of collecting political science data and learn how to analyze and apply it.
You may also have a foreign language requirement as part of your political science studies.
When you’re applying to colleges, a strong application can increase your chances of admission. In addition to a form with personal information, the materials you’ll need to submit may include the following:
- ACT or SAT test scores (if required)
- Essay about your experiences, strengths, or goals
- School transcripts from high school or college classes
Schools that don’t look at standardized test scores often rely on GPA scores as an important factor in the admissions process.
A degree should be more than a piece of paper. It should be evidence that you’ve received a quality education and proper training in your field. To that end, it’s beneficial to attend a college that has received regional accreditation.
Regional accrediting bodies evaluate schools to determine whether they meet commonly accepted standards for academic consistency, ethical operations, and positive student engagement.
Attending an accredited school can be a qualifying factor for financial aid. Your school’s accreditation status can also impact your job search or admittance to graduate programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
You might qualify to receive help with your college costs. To learn more about your financial aid options, you can fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The federal government typically offers loans or grants to qualifying students. Federal loans do need to be paid back, but they may carry lower interest rates than private loans. Grants do not need to be repaid.
States often run their own student aid programs that are similar to federal offerings. You might be able to take advantage of both state and federal options. Scholarships are another school-funding option. If you win one of these awards, it may be a one-time gift or renewable for each year of your studies.
Some scholarships are available through colleges, but it can be strategic to also look for outside programs from professional organizations, philanthropic groups, or community clubs.
Political Science Professional Organizations
You can choose to enhance your classroom studies with membership in a professional political science organization. Belonging to such a group may grant you access to informative resources, such as journals, webinars, conferences, and message boards.
Membership can also provide networking opportunities. You might even be able to learn about internships or job openings.
- American Political Science Association (APSA)
- International Political Science Association (IPSA)
- Southern Political Science Association (SPSA)
Professional organizations usually encourage students to join, and some may offer reduced membership rates for applicants who are in school.
Is Political Science a Liberal Art?
Because political science falls into the category of social sciences, it is usually considered a liberal art. Social science is one of the principal areas of study within the liberal arts.
In a liberal arts degree program with an international relations or political science focus, not only can you gain knowledge specific to your area of study, but you can also refine skills that are critical for success in nearly any discipline.
You can develop skills like persuasive writing, analytical thinking, clear communication, and creative problem-solving.
What Can You Do with a Political Science Degree?
As a political science major, you might be passionate about government, politics, and policymaking. Some graduates pursue jobs as legislative aides, campaign workers, press secretaries, and lobbyists.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working as a political scientist usually requires a graduate degree. With a bachelors, though, you can gain entry-level experience that can help prepare you for advanced studies.
Your community could benefit from your education. There may be roles available in local government, social service management, or news reporting. With a teaching license, you could also qualify to teach high school civics.
Can You Get a Political Science Degree Online?
Yes, online study is a viable option for earning a political science bachelors degree. You might be able to take both general education and major courses without ever being physically present on campus.
Online degrees in political science are very similar to campus-based programs. You’ll typically listen to lectures, complete assignments, and engage in discussions. Even as an online student, there might be opportunities for you to participate in internships or study abroad programs through the political science department.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Political Science Degree Online?
A bachelors in political science usually takes about 4 years to earn, but there are online options that can help speed up the process.
Traditional semesters are 16 weeks long. At a school with that type of calendar, it’s normal to spend about 4 years in the program. Accelerated online colleges may help you complete your coursework more quickly. The classes are generally half as long as traditional college courses, but you’ll be enrolled in only a few at a time.
When taking classes year-round, you may complete your political science online degree in 3 years or less.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Political Science Degree?
Some graduates use a degree in politics to contribute to political campaigns. Consultants take care of tasks like media relations, advertising, fundraising, and survey research. The person in charge of the campaign is known as the campaign manager.
Other graduates apply their knowledge to the media field. Understanding politics and governmental systems can contribute toward success as a newspaper or television reporter. Others submit articles to magazines or publish books on government-related topics.
A government degree can also be helpful for a career in the classroom. Political science majors who hold teaching licenses may lead high school history or civics classes.
What Is the Highest Paying Job in Political Science?
The skills you acquire in a political science program might prepare you for work in the advertising industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most advertising and promotions managers earn between $68,940 and $208,000 annually.
After getting a BS in Political Science, you could think about going to law school. The typical annual salary for lawyers ranges from $61,490 to $208,000.
Political scientists often earn between $62,840 and $170,800. The highest-paying sector for political scientists is professional, scientific and technical services. The median annual salary for political scientists in this sector is $136,640.
What Is the Difference Between Public Policy vs. Political Science?
You can think of public policy as a field in which political science concepts are applied.
In a political science program, you’ll study:
- Campaigning and elections
- Comparative politics
- Constitutional law
- Systems of government
For a public policy degree, you will:
- Analyze factors related to politics, economics, and other disciplines
- Learn to determine which policies to pursue
- Study methods for developing, changing, or implementing policies
Although these are two distinct degree programs, there’s typically a good deal of overlap in outcomes. You may be able to pursue similar jobs with either degree.
Is a Political Science Degree Worth It?
Yes, a political science degree is worth it for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for political scientists are increasing at a 6% rate. That’s faster than the average growth rate for US jobs.
Nearly 50% of political science jobs are with federal government agencies, and there’s an increased demand for political scientists in non-government positions as well (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Political scientists are often valued for their ability to evaluate public policies and their real-world impacts. A political science degree can be especially valuable when paired with field experience or strong research and writing skills.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors 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.
Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program. Courses last for 7.5 weeks.
To graduate, students must complete 120 credits. They may join the 4+1 program to earn their master’s degree faster. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 and be in the top 25% of their high school graduating class.
ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Columbia College offers an online Bachelor’s in Political Science program. Up to 90 qualfitying credit hours may be transferred in from another institution to complete the 120 credits needed for graduation. Applicants do not have to provide proof of completing high school but must complete a high school attestation form instead.
Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida International University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program.
To graduate, students must complete 120 credits, with 39 credit hours having a grade of C or higher. The school accepts applicants year round. Applicants must complete an online application and submit official transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and a small fee.
Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University offers an online Bachelor’s in Political Science program that requires 120 credit hours to graduate.
Students can usually complete the program in 3.5 years. Each course lasts for 8 weeks. Those applying to the program must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and must submit all official transcripts, a high school self-certification form, and proof of English proficiency.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oregon State University offers an online Bachelor’s in Political Science program. The program requires 180 quarter credits, with 60 credits from upper-division courses. Qualifying credits may be transferred in, but a minimum of 45 credits must be completed at Oregon State. Applicants must submit high school grades, class rank, and an essay.
Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Pennsylvania State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program. All transcripts from high school and post-secondary institutions must be submitted when applying.
To graduate from the program, students must complete 123 credits. As part of the required credits, at least one course in the following areas must be included: Political Theory, American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program.
Up to 90 qualifying credits can be transferred into the program to help reach the 120 required to graduate. Courses last for 8 weeks. Those interested in the program may apply at any time to start learning during any of the 6 terms. No SAT or ACT scores are required to be admitted.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Central Florida offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours.
Select students may also have the opportunity to take on an internship so they may gain real-world experience. To be eligible for the online program, students must transfer into the school from another post-secondary institution.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online Bachelor’s in Political Science program. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits, with 49 credits open to allow for a minor.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a high school diploma. Those who did not graduate from high school may apply if they have an associate’s degree with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Wisconsin—Whitewater offers an online Bachelor’s in Political Science program. The program is designed for students to complete a minor alongside their major. Those interested in the program must complete 4 English units, 3 math units, 3 natural science units, and 4 academic elective units while in high school.
UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science Online
Earning a political science and government degree can help you pursue a career in public service, politics, news reporting, education, or market analytics. This field offers growing job opportunities and the chance to contribute to the social and political climate of your community.
Online study is a strategic way to pursue your bachelor’s degree in political science. After you graduate, it may even benefit you to continue on in an online masters in political science program.
Through online courses, whether in a bachelors, masters, or even an online PhD in Political Science program, you can explore concepts related to governmental systems, international relations, and social justice. You can also build connections with contacts in your field.
You can get started on your college education by exploring online political science programs from regionally accredited universities.