The best colleges for political science can prepare you for an engaging career in government, politics, or a related field.
These schools can also help you develop skill sets in clear communication, logical thinking, and thorough research. As a result, you have the opportunity to graduate with in-demand soft skills in addition to your informed understanding of politics and power.
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Before you settle on a poli sci college, you can take a look at what makes for the best political science programs and consider which features are most important to you.
Best Colleges for Political Science
A future in political science may be waiting for you. To get started, you may want to explore the best schools for political science. A strong political science program can prepare you for a rewarding career in this field.
In school, not only will you learn facts and figures, but you can also be challenged to broaden your horizons, think critically, and brainstorm solutions to current issues. This program can help you grow as both a professional and a person.
Topics you’ll study during a political science program may include:
- Comparative politics
- Global economics
- International relations
- Logic and reasoning
- Political theory
- Quantitative analysis
- Structure of American government
Colleges may offer the political science major as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) program. Either one could prepare you for the workforce or for future graduate studies. BA students’ curriculum may emphasize the humanities and include a foreign language requirement, while BS students may take more science or statistics courses.
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The top colleges for political science often connect students to internships. You may have the chance to work with a political or community organization to gain firsthand knowledge of various careers in this field. International student trips or study abroad programs may be other opportunities for political science majors.
Political science bachelor’s degree programs can be offered on university campuses or through online college platforms. Either format can lead to a respected, reputable degree when offered by a regionally accredited school. Verifying a prospective school’s accreditation status is a strategic way to ensure that you are receiving a quality education that can help prepare you for the workforce or graduate school.
How to Choose a Political Science Program
The best political science programs are the ones that meet your personal needs and preferences. You can use the following tips to help you determine your top criteria. Then, you can search for college programs that offer just what you’re looking for.
- Accreditation. Regional accreditation points to the quality and credibility of a college.
- Cost. Pre-credit-hour tuition costs can vary widely between schools. You may want to keep in mind, though, that financial aid packages can make a big difference.
- Degree type. A BA can let you study a foreign language, while a BS will have you spend more time doing in-depth statistical research.
- Faculty. You may prefer for your professors to hold terminal degrees, have real-world political science experience, or carry out research in your area of interest.
- Format. Either online or in-person classes can lead to a political science degree, so you can decide which format is right for you. If you choose to pursue an online political science degree, you may want to look into whether classes are synchronous or asynchronous and whether there are any on-campus requirements.
- Experiences. Some colleges offer robust internship or travel abroad programs for political science students.
- Specializations. If you’d like to focus on a particular branch of political science, then you might want to select a program with concentration options. Examples include pre-law, comparative politics, international politics, political philosophy, and American policy.
It can be strategic to select several top college choices and send applications to each one. You could then make your final decision after receiving acceptance letters and financial aid offers.
Political Science Careers & Salaries
The skills you can develop at the top political science schools can help prepare you for work in a wide range of fields, such as government, politics, law, and education.
Employers may benefit from your knowledge of government, politics, and law as well as your critical thinking, research, logic, reasoning, and communication skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political science majors may work toward a variety of careers, such as the ones listed below.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,800|
|High School Teachers||$61,820|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$56,230|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||$48,370|
A number of jobs in this field—including lawyer, political scientist, and survey researcher—require graduate degrees. Other roles, such as teacher and paralegal, require industry licensure or certification in addition to a bachelor’s degree.
Political Science Universities Admissions Requirements
Getting into a poli sci program is usually a multistep process that begins with submitting an application packet. Political science major colleges generally ask for:
- Application—may be online, paper, or the Common Application
- High school transcript or GED
- Essay or personal statement
- SAT or ACT scores (if required)
After going through your application, some schools may want to speak with references or conduct an interview with you before making a final admissions decision.
Colleges with Political Science Majors Accreditation
Good colleges for political science are regionally accredited. Accreditation means that a school has been approved by an outside organization, and regional accreditation is the gold standard for colleges.
There are seven US organizations that can confer regional accreditation. To do so, they first evaluate a school. If an institution meets the accreditor’s set standards, then it receives accredited status. Maintaining that accreditation status requires a regular reevaluation and renewal process.
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Going to a regionally accredited school can make all the difference if you try to transfer credits or get into grad school. Employers and licensing boards also prefer, and sometimes require, regionally accredited degrees.
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Poli Sci Majors
You may be able to receive tuition assistance based on your financial need, your merit, or another factor. Government programs are some of the most common sources of need-based funding. You might qualify for loans or grants. The federal government distributes funds based on the data that students enter on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many states offer assistance programs as well.
Scholarships often go to the most qualified applicants, such as those with high grades or impressive volunteer service. Many scholarships are administered by private organizations. Colleges often provide scholarships for students as well. Your workplace may also contribute to your college goals.
Is Political Science a Good Major?
Yes, political science is a good major for many undergraduate students. In a poli sci program, you can learn to think critically, search for solutions, communicate effectively, and advocate for change. Whether you want to be a legislative assistant, a community leader, a teacher, or a journalist, these skills can serve you well.
A political science bachelor’s degree could also be good preparation for graduate studies. With a master’s degree in this or a related field, you might qualify to become a political scientist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political scientists usually earn between $61,480 and $172,490 each year.
What’s the Difference Between Political Science vs. Sociology?
Political science and sociology both belong to the category of social sciences. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between them.
Because these are similar fields, you may find some potential career overlap. For example, either degree could be useful for public relations roles.
Is a Political Science Degree Worth It?
Yes, a degree in political science is worth it for many students. Government and politics touch nearly every aspect of life, so this can be a very relevant field of study. In fact, at its core, poli sci is the study of power dynamics—a topic that comes into play in every industry.
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Political science is also a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 9% increase in jobs for political scientists over the next ten years. Journalism is experiencing 6% job growth, public relations is seeing 11% job growth, and management consulting is booming with 14% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Best Universities Offering 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.
Columbia University in the City of New York offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students interested in also receiving a Master of Arts in Political Science may begin to obtain credits for their master’s degree early. Applicants may apply online with their autobiographical information, a personal essay, self-reported ACT or SAT scores, and three teacher recommendations.
Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Duke University offers an undergraduate program for those interested in Political Science. The program is designed to allow students to complete a double major or receive a certificate in another field while earning their undergraduate degree. Those interested in the program may apply online with official transcripts, test scores, and three letters of recommendation.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Georgetown University offers four programs for a Bachelor’s in Political Science, including American Government, Comparative Government, International Relations, and Political Theory. Students may also be eligible for the BA/MA program to get a head start on a master’s degree. Applicants must submit an online application, an application supplement, and a teacher’s report.
Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Ohio State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must complete 121 credit hours to graduate. Students may add one of eleven specializations to their degree, such as Democracy and Law, Political Identities and Allegiances, or Political Economy and Development. Applicants must submit official transcripts and standardized test scores.
The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Princeton University offers students an option to add a concentration in Politics after their first year of study. Students must have completed two courses in politics to be eligible for the concentration. An additional specialization track may also be chosen. Applicants must submit an online application with two teacher recommendations, official transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores.
Princeton University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Rice University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must complete a total of 120 credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must submit official high school transcripts, SAT or ACT test scores, and three letters of recommendation from teachers and a guidance counselor.
Rice University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Stanford University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must add a primary and a secondary track. Options include Data Science, Justice and Law, International Relations, Political Economy and Development, and Elections, Representation, and Governance. Applicants must submit an online application, ACT or SAT test scores, three letters of recommendation, and mid-year transcripts.
Stanford is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
The University of California—Berkeley offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must earn 120 credit hours to graduate. Students interested in the program must declare their major after completing the required prerequisite courses and attending a major declaration session. All official transcripts must be brought to the session.
The University of California – Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges.
The University of Chicago offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. To graduate, students must complete either a thesis or a 20-page paper for one of the required courses. Those interested in the program must submit an application along with a personal statement, official transcripts, and two teacher evaluations.
The University of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Michigan—Dearborn offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Concentrations in Public Law, Public Administration, Public Policy, State and Local, Political Theory, or International and Comparative Politics may be added to the degree. Applicants must submit official transcripts. ACT or SAT scores may be submitted when applying, but doing so is optional.
The University of Michigan – Dearborn is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must add a track in Data in Politics, American Politics, Global Politics, Political Theory, or Research Methods. Applicants must submit official transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and a letter of recommendation.
The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Pennsylvania offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students may add a concentration in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory, or Political Economy. Applicants must complete all prerequisite courses and have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be eligible for the program.
The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Rochester offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must complete 12 required courses with a minimum GPA of 2.0 along with all other graduation requirements. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a teacher recommendation, a counselor recommendation, a writing sample, and official test scores.
The University of Rochester is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Southern California offers a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Students must complete three courses from one of the eight available concentrations, such as Applied Politics, Environmental Politics, or Law and Human Rights. Applicants must submit a writing sample, official test scores, and a letter of recommendation with their application.
The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission.
The University of Texas—Austin offers a Bachelor of Arts in Government. Students must complete 120 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to graduate. Those interested in the program must submit an online application, an essay, short answer responses, and high school transcripts.
The University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Wisconsin—Madison offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Students must complete 120 credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit a declaration of major, which can be found on the department’s website.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Vanderbilt University offers an undergraduate degree in political science. Students must add a specialty in Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Politics, or American Government. Those interested in the program must submit a declaration of major form to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Washington and Lee University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Politics. Applicants must submit an online application along with high school transcripts, 2 teacher recommendations, a recommendation from a guidance counselor, and SAT or ACT scores.
Washington and Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Washington University offers a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Students must complete all of the general education requirements and 30 credits related to the major to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts and a personal essay and have a GPA of 2.7 or higher.
Washington University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Yale University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. To graduate, students must complete a final senior essay and all required credits. Those interested in the program may declare their major at any point during their undergraduate studies by speaking with an academic advisor.
Yale is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Finding the Best Political Science Colleges Online
A degree in poli sci can help prepare you to work in government, politics, or public policy. This field of study is also relevant for jobs in journalism, education, and law.
If you’re interested in power dynamics and government systems, you may want to set your sights on the best schools for political science. During an online political science program, you’ll engage in lively discussions, read stimulating texts, learn from in-depth lectures, and submit insightful assignments. There are even accredited colleges that offer rigorous and reputable online programs.
If you’re intrigued by where a political science degree could take you, why not start exploring the best online poli sci programs today?