2017 Accredited Online Political Science Degrees
Students of an online political science degree program will study the history, development, and operation of policies and systems. The 126 degrees on this page offer a wide variety of degree focuses, including international relations, military studies, and public affairs. While online political science degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels, aspiring political scientists will most likely need a master's degree or higher for a career in the field.
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 the high standards that future employers will expect.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Political Science Degrees (69)
Top Online Colleges Offering Political Science Degrees
These 20 top colleges offer online political science degrees. The academic strength scores for schools on this list range from 52% to the notable 73% boasted by University of Central Florida. Fort Hays State University, ranked first with a 62% academic strength score, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with the lowest tuition of the group, only $6,424 annually.
All schools considered for this list offer fully online political science degrees at the bachelor's level. View our top ranked master's degrees, read about our methodology for more details, or learn more about SR Education Group.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 Fort Hays State University||Annual Tuition $6,424||Academic Strength 62%|
|#2 Southeast Missouri State University||Annual Tuition $8,535||Academic Strength 64%|
|#3 Eastern Oregon University||Annual Tuition $6,540||Academic Strength 58%|
|#4 Arkansas State University||Annual Tuition $6,990||Academic Strength 59%|
|#5 University of Illinois at Springfield||Annual Tuition $11,363||Academic Strength 69%|
|#6 University of Maine||Annual Tuition $11,220||Academic Strength 67%|
|#7 University of West Georgia||Annual Tuition $7,926||Academic Strength 59%|
|#8 Regent University Online||Annual Tuition $11,850||Academic Strength 68%|
|#9 Oregon State University||Annual Tuition $12,600||Academic Strength 69%|
|#10 Troy University||Annual Tuition $10,140||Academic Strength 62%|
|#11 Southern New Hampshire University Online||Annual Tuition $9,600||Academic Strength 60%|
|#12 Fort Valley State University||Annual Tuition $6,048||Academic Strength 52%|
|#13 Oral Roberts University||Annual Tuition $11,168||Academic Strength 64%|
|#14 Liberty University||Annual Tuition $11,700||Academic Strength 64%|
|#15 Eastern Kentucky University||Annual Tuition $12,000||Academic Strength 62%|
|#16 Chaminade University of Honolulu||Annual Tuition $12,030||Academic Strength 60%|
|#17 Indiana University-East||Annual Tuition $10,784||Academic Strength 57%|
|#18 Arizona State University||Annual Tuition $15,000||Academic Strength 66%|
|#19 Brescia University||Annual Tuition $14,930||Academic Strength 62%|
|#20 University of Central Florida||Annual Tuition $20,349||Academic Strength 73%|
Which Political Science Degree Level Is Best for Me?
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.
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.
Bachelor's degrees in political science take four years to complete. Most applicants have high school diplomas and have studied history and government, but no prior study is required. Most schools require that students complete prerequisite courses before beginning the standard political science curriculum. All undergraduate students begin their studies by taking a broad range of general education classes. Depending on the school, students might study math, science, English, history, and psychology, and take electives in the humanities and arts. Once they begin their political science curriculum, students will take courses in mass communications, statistical analysis, government structure, political theories and methods, economics, and business.
Many political science undergraduate students complete internships. 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. People who earn bachelor's degrees in political science must carve their own career paths. Actual political scientist positions are typically reserved for those with master’s or doctoral degrees. However, many political science graduates go on to law school, 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.
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 scientists. These five schools offer online master's degrees in political science that stand out from the rest due to their affordable tuitions and strong academics. View our methodology for more details about these rankings.
Top Online Master's Degrees in Political Science
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 University of North Georgia||Annual Tuition $5,706||Academic Strength 64%|
|#2 Eastern Illinois University||Annual Tuition $4,624||Academic Strength 62%|
|#3 Johns Hopkins University - Advanced Academics Programs||Annual Tuition $22,037||Academic Strength 88%|
|#4 Sul Ross State University||Annual Tuition $9,870||Academic Strength 53%|
|#5 George Washington University||Annual Tuition $24,000||Academic Strength 81%|
To qualify for a master’s degree in political science program, 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.
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.
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 obviously vital for journalists with newspapers and news magazines.
- 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 May 15, 2014. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-arts-political-science.
- Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Kaplan University. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://catalog.kaplanuniversity.edu/Bachelor_of_Science_in_Political_Science.aspx.
- Major in Political Science. University of Maryland University College. Accessed May 15, 2014. 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 May 15, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-3.
- Online Master of Arts in Diplomacy. Norwich University. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://diplomacy.norwich.edu.
- Political Science and Government. Ashford University. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://www.ashford.edu/degrees/online/ba-political-science.htm.
- Government. Johns Hopkins University: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://advanced.jhu.edu/academics/graduate-degree-programs/government/.
- Graduate Government & Public Administration Degree Programs. Regent University: Robertson School of Government. Accessed May 20, 2016. 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 May 20, 2016. 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 May 20, 2016. http://uwf.edu/cassh/departments/government/graduate-programs/masters-in-political-science-online-/.
- NASPAA Accreditation. NASPAA. Accessed May 19, 2016. https://accreditation.naspaa.org/.
- Online Master's Degree: MS in Political Science. Southern New Hampshire University. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-political-science.
- Online Programs. University of Nebraska, Omaha: School of Public Administration. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-public-affairs-and-community-service/public-administration/academics/online-programs.php.
- Political Science MS (International Development) - Online Degree. The University of Southern Mississippi. Accessed May 20, 2016. https://online.usm.edu/graduate/political-science-ms/.
- Politics & Public Policy. GW Online. Accessed May 20, 2016. https://online.gwu.edu/politics-public-policy.
- Teaching Civics and Government. Kansas State University: Global Campus. Accessed May 20, 2016. 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 May 20, 2016. http://www.uis.edu/politicalscience/curriculum/mastersdegree/online-masters-degree/.