25 Best Online Masters in Political Science [2021 Guide]

If you’re interested in politics on a local, state, national, or global scale and want to expand your education into advanced areas of public policy, then you may consider pursuing an online masters in political science.

Masters in Political Science

A career in political science may allow you to develop, implement, and analyze policy, engage in social advocacy, or play a role in reporting news via various media outlets.

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The annual salary for many political science career paths is well above average, and jobs in the field are predicted to grow over the coming years. This indicates a probable high return on your investment in a master’s degree poli sci program.

Online Masters in Political Science Programs

Public Relations Specialists working in the office

Earning your masters in poli sci may offer you the opportunity to work in various fields, including public administration and government, private business, nonprofit, and academia.

As part of your studies, you may take courses that focus on political and economic analysis, terrorism and public policy, legal and political issues related to the military, American and foreign public policy, and national security.

Other courses may have you focus on learning current and emerging trends in politics, understanding the functioning of American congress, analyzing urban and rural issues related to policy, and discussing various political movements over the years.

Poli sci curriculum may also extend into a review of international politics and the impact of governance concerning culture. Common areas include Latin American, Western European, and Russian politics.

An online political science masters degree may prepare you for various career paths, including political scientist, urban and regional planner, reporter, and news broadcaster.

With a position in political science, you may have the opportunity to play a key role in governance and political structures. You may support the planning and development of public policy within government institutions at a state, national, and international level.

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A career as a political scientist may also require you to track changes in the social and political climate and assess the impact that policy may have on various groups of the population.

You may also perform research and analysis on various political topics. These topics may include everything from voting behavior, public opinion, and political theory to international relations and comparative politics.

Positions in urban and regional planning may allow you to help manage and grow communities. You may work with various levels of government, contractors, and members of the public to develop plans and strategies for land use, the economy, and environmental projects.

Working as a reporter or broadcast news analyst may allow you to perform research for articles or news reports. Your tasks may include gathering facts, information, analysis, and opinions on trending topics.

Positions in media may also require you to interpret current events and communicate opinions, facts, and information through various mediums, such as written news, radio, and television.

Political Science Careers & Salaries

Political Science Careers & Salaries

There are several political science career paths available with a master’s degree online. These include positions in all levels of government, such as municipal, state, national, and international government bodies.

Other paths may include being a member of a political campaign or party, working within media and news organizations, or working for nonprofits and being involved in social advocacy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a wide range of positions you may pursue with an online masters in political science.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Political Research Scientist $136,640
Government Affairs Specialist $133,460
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager $118,430
Economist $108,350
Social Scientist $87,260
Education Policy Analyst $75,260
Urban or Regional Planner $75,950
Public Relations Specialist $62,810
Survey Researcher $59,870
Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst $49,300

Earning your master’s in political science may also qualify you for some teaching positions.

While many postsecondary institutions require instructors to hold a PhD, others may allow a masters degree as an entry-level educational requirement. Several careers in the field of political science are expected to experience job growth over the next several years.

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Some roles that expect growth include political scientist (6%), public relations specialist (7%), public relations and fundraising manager (9%), urban and regional planner (11%), and economist (14%).

Political Science Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Political Scientist working on his laptop

While specific courses may vary from one school to the next, common courses in a masters in political science online program may include the following:

  • The Role of Social Capital in Politics: This course examines what social capital is as well as the important role it plays in politics, strategy, and ethical decision making.
  • Law, Policy, and Administration: You’ll take a look at the interrelationship among various participants in the political science landscape, including management, policymakers, and legal staff.
  • The Supreme Court of the United States: This course will help you understand the relationship between the US Supreme Court, the Constitution, and public policy.
  • Law and Inequality: You’ll examine the role that public policy and law play in creating and resolving inequality in American society.
  • Global Issues in Politics: This course evaluates the impact of globalization on politics and governance and the role of democracy in international and global politics.
  • Current and Emerging Public Policy: This course is a review of new and upcoming public policy in US politics.
  • American Congress and Policy Making: You’ll evaluate the structure of the American congressional structure in relation to the development and implementation of public policy and political structures.
  • Urban Issues and Policy: In this course, you’ll examine how public policy can impact urban centers, from creating positive social change to inciting violence and inequality.
  • Feminist Theory: You’ll analyze politics and public policy from the perspective of various feminist theories.
  • Writing for Public Affairs: This course is a review of common writing styles used in political science careers, including best practices for writing policies and press releases.

Other courses in a political science masters program may focus on gender and women in politics, jury systems and trials, African Americans and politics in the United States, the role of interest groups, and policy analysis.

Admissions Requirements

Masters in Political Science student studying in a cafe

While admission requirements may vary from school to school, some common requirements may include those listed here:

  • Letters of recommendation: Letters from individuals that can speak to your academic interests and work ethic may be required to support your admission into a masters level program.
  • GRE scores: While a growing number of schools no longer require GRE scores, some programs may still require you to meet a specific score threshold to allow admission into their masters in poli sci program.
  • Writing samples: Examples of your writing style and ability may be requested to support your acceptance and admission into a graduate-level academic program.
  • Transcripts from postsecondary programs: Schools may require transcripts from previous bachelor degree programs you’ve completed.

Some schools and programs may also request that you complete an online application, send a letter of interest, and submit GPA scores that meet a certain threshold.

Accreditation

Online Masters in Political Science Accreditation

When an academic program receives regional accreditation, it verifies that the program’s curriculum is of high academic quality. The accreditation status of an academic program may impact your eligibility for financial aid as well as the ability to transfer credits from one school to another.

Your degree’s accreditation status may also factor into the recruitment process and hiring decisions made by employers. This is because accredited programs are generally viewed as superior learning experiences.

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You can find out more about the accreditation status of programs you’re interested in attending through the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online Masters in Political Science Financial Aid

There are a number of financial aid options that could help you fund your studies, if you qualify. These options may include federal or state grants and loans as well as private scholarships. While loans generally require repayment once your studies are complete, grants and scholarships do not.

There may also be some scholarships specifically available for students pursuing a masters in political science. Your eligibility to obtain these scholarships may depend on the accreditation status of your program, your life experiences, or the location of the school you’re enrolling in.

You may apply for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through the department of education’s website.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Political Science Online?

Master’s in Political Science student studying at home

The length of time it will take for you to complete an online political science master’s degree may depend on the program and school you choose to attend.

Master’s degree programs generally take between 1 to 2 years to complete with full-time study. Programs generally include two 16 week semesters over each academic year. With that in mind, a 1 year program would include 2 semesters, a 2 year program would include 4 semesters, and a 3 year program would include 6 semesters.

Some programs may also allow you to enroll on a part-time study basis, which would extend your completion time but allow you to finish at your own pace.

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

Economists working together

With a masters degree in political science online, you may be able to secure positions in government, business, and nonprofit organizations.

There is a wide range of career paths in this field. Positions include political scientist, public relations specialist, urban and regional planner, fundraiser, journalist, reporter, broadcast analyst, economist, and social scientist.

Career options that are specifically related to government and politics include researcher, political campaign manager, and policy analyst. These positions may work in relation to state and federal politics and public policy, international relations, or comparative politics.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Political Science?

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers working together

You may pursue a number of rewarding career paths with a master’s degree in political science. It is common for poli sci graduates to become political scientists. This career path may allow you to work in professional, scientific, technical, and government organizations.

Other positions you may pursue include policy analyst, public relations and fundraising manager, economist, social scientist, urban and regional planner, public relations specialist, survey researcher, reporter, news correspondent, or news broadcaster.

Is a Masters Degree in Political Science Worth It?

Yes, a master’s degree in political science is worth it for many students. Jobs in life, physical, and social science sector are projected to grow at a rate of 5% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), faster than the average for all occupations.

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Common political science careers in this field include policy analyst, political scientist, urban and regional planner, news broadcaster, and reporter. A master’s in political science may allow you to play a key role in governance, public policy, and social advocacy.

Universities Offering Online Master’s 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.

American Public University

American Public University campus

Students applying to American Public University’s Master of Arts in Political Science program don’t have to pay an admissions application fee, don’t have to pay a fee to have their transfer credits evaluated, and don’t have to take the GMAT or GRE for admittance. There are four available concentration options.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Intelligence and Security Studies program is similar in nature to a political science masters program at other schools.

There are three comparative politics specializations and three international relations specializations. Graduates will also earn certificates in strategic deterrence, strategic intelligence, and intelligence and security strategy.

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

East Carolina University

East Carolina University campus

Students in the security studies masters program at Eastern Carolina University will choose from four areas of concentration: science and technology security, environmental health and occupational safety, homeland security policy, and international security.

It’s a good program for students interested in pursuing careers as policy analysts or program administrators.

East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Eastern Illinois University

eastern illinois university campus

Eastern Illinois University’s Master of Arts in Political Science program features a concentration in Public Administration and Public Policy.

It’s a flexible program that can be completed in 3 semesters by full-time students. Students can also choose to take as few as one class a semester until they’ve completed the program.

Eastern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University campus

Fort Hays State University offers a Master of Liberal Studies program with a concentration in Political Science. Students will take four core courses, six concentration-specific courses, and one culminating experience course.

The entire program requires 31 credits for completion. Classes include policy analysis, information literacy, constitutional law, and political behavior.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Washington University

George Washington University campus

Students in George Washington University’s political management masters program will learn a lot about fundraising, campaign management, polling and strategic research techniques, and political communications.

The degree is firmly rooted in political science, but whereas political science teaches students about these topics, political management teaches them to actively do these things.

GWU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Harvard University

Harvard University campus

The government and political science masters program at Harvard University allows students to choose to complete either a final thesis or a capstone project. The degree can be earned mostly online, but there are three required on-campus classes. Students can also earn additional graduate certificates in one of five concentrations.

Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Government program allows students to collaborate and network with peers from a myriad of different professional and academic backgrounds. There are 12 total courses and 3 available concentrations in security studies, political communication, and democracy studies, governance, and leadership.

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The Master of Science in Political Science program from Liberty University can be completed in under 2 years. The program is conducted 100% online via 8 week courses, and up to half the required credits can be transferred from another school. The curriculum is designed to deliver a comprehensive political education.

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

Northeastern University

Northeastern University campus

Northeastern University’s Master of Arts in Political Science program is available to both full-time and part-time students. For full-time students, it usually takes about 2 years to finish. There are 32 total required credits and 5 concentration options to choose from. Students can also participate in optional co-op experiences.

Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Norwich University

Norwich University campus

Students in the Master of Arts in Diplomacy program at Norwich University can select from one of the following concentrations: international terrorism, conflict management, international commerce, or cyber diplomacy. The program is largely online, but there’s a required one-week residency on campus. All class sizes are capped at 15 students.

Norwich University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Ohio University’s Master of Public Administration has four separate concentrations from which students can choose. All coursework can be completed online, and most students finish in about 2 years. It’s a nationally recognized program that teaches students about political science and about having a voice for advocacy and change.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University campus

Oregon State University offers both Master and Executive Master of Public Policy degrees online. The executive program requires 45 credits for completion, and the regular masters program requires 62 credits. Both programs are fully accredited, and the classes and curricula are developed and taught by the school’s renowned faculty.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus has a 36 credit Master of Public Administration program consisting of 21 core credits, 12 elective credits, and a 3 credit masters project.

Course topics include human resources in public and nonprofit sectors, research methods, organizational behavior, intro to policy analysis, and governmental fiscal decision-making.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Regent University

Regent University campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Campaigns and Political Leadership program at Regent University can select concentrations from leadership and ethics, policy studies, marketing and communication, and information studies and data analytics.

The program is good for students interested in becoming campaign marketing specialists, political consultants, or campaign managers.

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

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University campus

Sam Houston State University’s political science masters program is a good choice for students hoping to continue on to doctoral programs, teach at the postsecondary level, or pursue careers within various nonprofit organizations.

It requires between 30 credits to 36 credits for completion, depending on whether students select the thesis or non-thesis option.

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

Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University campus

Students in the Master of Public Administration program at Southern Utah University who are interested in political science can select the state and local government emphasis.

With this emphasis, students will learn about public sector economics, administrative law, public human resources management, and other political science-related subjects. The entire program requires 36 credits for completion.

Southern Utah University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Sul Ross State University

Sul Ross State University campus

Sul Ross State University offers masters programs in both political science and public administration. They’re similar programs, but public administration is geared more towards students currently working or pursuing careers in public service. Political science, on the other hand, is better for those hoping to become professors in the field.

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

University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield campus

University of Illinois – Springfield offers an online political science masters program specifically designed for working professionals in many different fields. This program offers flexible schedules that allow students to tailor their curricula to their own interests and career goals. Students can also earn graduate certificates in practical politics as well.

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

University of Miami

University of Miami campus

The Master of Public Administration program at University of Miami is a practice-based program taught by world-renowned faculty.

For most students, it can be completed in 24 months, and there are plenty of scholarships available for eligible students. Notable courses include political analysis, organizational dynamics, and political environment of business.

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

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Political Science program at University of Nebraska – Omaha should leave the program with firm, comprehensive foundations in both political science and other interdisciplinary studies.

There are available concentrations in American government and international affairs. Additional graduate certificates can also be earned.

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of West Florida

University of West Florida campus

University of West Florida’s online Master of Arts in Political Science program puts a heavy focus on both American and international politics. It can’t be taken by students in every state, but the students who are enrolled in the program will study current events, international governments, politics, and public policy.

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

Villanova University

Villanova University campus

Students in Villanova University’s public administration masters program will learn about human capital management strategies, leadership ethics and value-based decision-making, effective management practices for government and nonprofits, and the role of strategic planning and management.

Students can also earn additional graduate certificates in public administration, nonprofit management, or city management.

Villanova University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus

Virginia Tech’s is named as one of the best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

In their Master of Arts in Political Science program, there are three required courses, four elective courses, and three required thesis and research courses. Course topics include contemporary political theory, electronic governance, American foreign policy, and global governance.

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

Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program at Western New Mexico University can choose from several different subjects in various disciplines. This includes a political science option. Students will be required to select at least one additional concentration area to meet the requirements of the degree.

Western New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Master’s in Political Science Online

Getting Your Master’s in Political Science Online

Earning your masters in political science online may allow you to embark on an exciting career path. This degree may open up opportunities to plan, develop, and implement public policy in a local, state, national, or international context.

The political science curriculum in a masters program may provide you with the foundation needed to analyze policy, perform research, and provide informed opinions on current events, social change, and international relations.

This career path may qualify you to work in government, business, and nonprofit. You may also work as a self-employed consultant in the field of political science.

Since many political science positions earn higher than average annual salaries and have positive job outlooks, obtaining an accredited masters degree in political science may prove to be a strategic investment in your career.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s 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 focuses on employment, business, and training and development.