2021 Best Online PhD in Political Science Programs

An online PhD political science program may be a good fit for you if you’re interested in gaining an advanced understanding of public policy, governance, and political institutions.

PhD in Political Science Programs

This career path may allow you to participate in valuable research activities within an academic or government setting. You may also get the opportunity to teach political science students at a postsecondary level.

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By earning this advanced degree in political science, you may take advantage of the field’s positive job outlook and high annual salaries.

Online PhD in Political Science Programs

Political Scientist working on his laptop

Earning a PhD in Political Science online may provide you with the opportunity to pursue advanced research and education related to governance, political systems, policy, and political theory.

This educational pursuit may contribute to a deeper understanding of international political relations and comparative politics. Your coursework may include a look at how politics operate in different countries around the world, including Russia, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and South America.

With a PhD in Political Science, you may be qualified for advanced positions in policy planning, development, and analysis. You may also evaluate and explain legislative and governance processes at a local, national, and international level.

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Positions in research within a government institution, academic setting, or bipartisan think tank may be available to you as well. Areas of study in a PhD political science program may include comparative politics, American politics, international politics, economics, and national security.

Comparative politics emphasizes understanding the differences and nuances of political processes, policies, and institutions of different countries. American politics focuses on the study of the US specifically. This includes a look at the two-party political system, constitution, and impact of public policy on the population in the United States.

In most PhD programs, research is the cornerstone of the curriculum. As a result, you may be required to complete coursework to advance your research practices. This may include taking courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods related to political science.

Political Science Careers & Salaries

Political Science Careers & Salaries

With a PhD in Political Science, you may be in a position to pursue advanced career paths in government, from local, state, and national politics to foreign policy and international relations.

You may also be qualified to become a member of faculty at various postsecondary institutions, acting as a professor or instructor. In this role, you may be responsible for the development of curriculum in relation to various political science topics as well as instructing students on those content areas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are several rewarding and lucrative careers in the field of political science.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Political Analyst $136,640
Government Affairs Researcher $133,460
Constitutional Law Professor $126,930
Political Scientist $125,350
Economist $108,350
Social Scientist $87,260
Political Theory Professor $85,760
Urban or Regional Planner $75,950
Education Policy Analyst $75,260
Survey Researcher $59,870

Another common career for those with an online doctorate in political science is a researcher. Research positions may exist within government, academia, or business sectors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers stemming from a PhD in Poli Sci are predicted to experience growth over the next ten years. This includes the positions of political scientists (6%), postsecondary teachers (9%), urban and regional planners (11%), and economists (14%).

PhD in Political Science Curriculum

Within political science PhD programs, the curriculum builds on the foundation of previous studies in master level programs and work experience in the field of poli sci.s

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Courses may cover a range of political science, public policy, and public administration topics at national and international levels of politics.

  • Public Administration: This course will give an advanced look at the development and implementation of public policies by various levels of government in America.
  • Public Policy Analysis: You’ll examine the principles of analysis in relation to public policy and governance in American society and with consideration to population equity and globalization.
  • American Political Parties: This course gives an in-depth analysis of the two-party political system in US politics, including the various roles within the parties, historical party performance, and ideological foundations.
  • Political Theory: You’ll receive a comprehensive review of various political theories in relation to American politics throughout history, including social, revolutionary, progressive, and conservative politics.
  • Comparative Politics: This course utilizes comparative and empirical methodologies to examine similarities and differences between various countries, populations, and concepts in relation to politics.
  • International Law: In this course, you’ll get an in-depth look at contemporary issues, perspectives, and topics in relation to international law and public policy, including human rights, environment, and terrorism.
  • Global Politics: This course is a review of international relations, globalization, and the global economy and its relationship to and impact on government and public policy.
  • European Politics: You’ll explore public administration, political behavior, voting patterns, and policy in a European context.
  • Qualitative Research Methods: You’ll learn qualitative research methods utilized in the discipline of political science and policy analysis.
  • Quantitative Research Methods: This course is an examination of quantitative research methods and best practices in the field of political science.

Other course topics covered in a PhD political science degree program may include foreign policy, organizational behavior, feminism, racism, and political revolutions.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Political Science student studying at home

Due to the advanced nature of political science PhD programs, you may be required to have the following before being accepted into a program:

  • Masters degree: You may be required to submit proof that you have completed a master’s degree program at an accredited postsecondary institution to be accepted into a PhD program.
  • Work experience: Some schools may require you to have previous work experience in government or policy-related career paths.
  • Letters of recommendation: In many cases, PhD programs will request one or more letters of recommendation from former academic or workplace supervisors and colleagues.

Additional admission requirements—such as a complete CV or proof of funding for your PhD studies—may depend on the program and school you’re interested in applying to.

Accreditation

Online PhD in Political Science Programs Accreditation

Regional accreditation verifies the academic quality of a postsecondary program. The accreditation status of a program not only impacts your ability to transfer credits from one institution to another but can also play an important role in the hiring decisions of an organization.

A program’s accreditation status may also impact your ability to register with various political science member-based associations. It may also influence your ability to receive adequate funding for your PhD studies.

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

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online PhD in Political Science Programs Financial Aid

Pursuing a PhD in Political Science may be a significant and costly undertaking. Luckily, financial aid options, like federal and state aid or scholarships, may help ease the financial aspect of your degree.

Due to the large amount of research that is undertaken as part of a PhD program, some postsecondary institutions offer full or partial funding for PhD students. The availability of school-based funding varies from one school to the next. In some cases, funding may be limited to program length.

For example, a school that has a PhD program that can be completed in 5 years with full-time study may only provide funding for 5 years. In that instance, no additional funding may be given if you require additional time to complete your PhD.

For more information about the financial aid options that may be available to you, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Political Science?

Economist working in an office

With a PhD in Political Science, you may be able to pursue a career as a political scientist working in government, business, or nonprofit. You may also be able to develop a career as a policy analyst or economist.

Other common careers with a PhD in Political Science include researchers as well as professors or instructors at postsecondary institutions. Online PhD programs in political science may advance your career as a social scientist, urban or regional planner, and survey researcher.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Political Science?

A PhD in Political Science may generally take between 3 to 5 years to complete, depending on the program you choose to enroll in. Programs may be composed of a combination of courses, research, teaching placements, examinations, and the completion of a dissertation.

In some cases, PhD programs will set a maximum number of years for completion. This means that you must complete your coursework, research, and dissertation within that timeframe in order to ensure your eligibility to graduate.

Can You Get a PhD in Political Science?

Urban Planner working in his office

Yes, you may pursue a PhD in Political Science. Other common doctoral degrees related to the field of political science include a PhD in Public Policy or a PhD in Public Administration.

While there is some overlap between political science, public policy, and public administration programs, some key differences exist in the areas of emphasis or concentration.

Political science focuses on content related to structures of the political system, analysis of policy and events, and researching political behavior. Political science encompasses both public policy and public administration.

Public policy, as the name suggests, centers more specifically around the advanced study of public policy. Public administration focuses on the bureaucracy of politics, including the implementation of policy and processes.

Is a PhD in Political Science Worth It?

Political Scientists talking in the office

Yes, a doctorate in political science is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life, physical, and social science jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common careers for political science PhD graduates in this field include professor, political scientist, researcher, policy analyst, and economist.

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With your completed degree, you may be able to find exciting career opportunities in government, business, academic, and nonprofit sectors.

Universities Offering Online PhD 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.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

California Baptist University’s Doctor of Public Administration program requires 56 units for completion and can be finished in only 3 years. It’s a cohort-model program, and courses are delivered via 8 week courses. Graduating students should be able to address issues in a global context, using Christian ethics as a guide.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Students in Capella University’s Doctor of Public Administration program must complete 16 core courses, 2 residencies, and a doctoral capstone to graduate. The program’s goal is to teach students to evaluate current practices and theories in the field of public administration and to conduct original research to improve the field.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The PhD in Public Policy program at Liberty University is a 60 credit program that takes about 3 years to complete. The curriculum is delivered 100% online through a series of 8 week courses. There are optional specializations in foreign policy, education policy, social policy, economic policy, and national security policy.

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

Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

Northcentral University offers a Doctor of Public Administration program that requires 18 courses and can be completed in 42 months.

The program seeks to educate students on evaluating current issues in public organizations, creating practical strategies based on evidence-based research, and formulating domestic and global solutions to public policy issues.

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

The PhD in Public Administration and Policy program offered at Old Dominion University provides students with solid foundations in theory and issues surrounding public administration and public policy.

Students learn to conduct policy analyses, conduct original research in public administration, report on their research, and assess policy and implementation issues.

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

Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University campus

Students interested in public policy and public administration at Salve Regina University can enroll in the school’s PhD in International Relations program. It’s the first program of its kind in the nation, and it seeks to “promote humanity and eliminate prejudice” by teaching students to have a more comprehensive, empathetic global worldview.

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

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota campus

The PhD in Political Science program at University of South Dakota is a 60 credit to 72 credit program that can be completed mostly online, with only one required on-campus course a month. The curriculum focuses on American political institutions, public policy process and evaluation, and public administration. A final dissertation is required.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University campus

Valdosta State University’s Doctor of Public Administration program is a 54 credit program that can be taken online. It’s a good program for students interested in pursuing careers as public policy analysts, directors, specialists or consultants, public works directors, city managers, or professors. There are specific GRE and GPA requirements.

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

Walden University

Walden University campus

Students in the PhD in Public Policy and Administration program at Walden University will take foundational, core, research, and dissertation-related courses.

Students must also complete a doctoral capstone and four residencies to graduate. Available courses include foundations for doctoral studies, ethics and social justice, and strategic planning: collaboration, cooperation, and coordination.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

West Chester University

West Chester University campus

West Chester University’s Doctor of Public Administration degree can be earned entirely online.

There are four concentrations available in graduate social work, geography and planning, criminal justice, and public policy and administration. The curriculum focuses on policy advocacy and leadership, public sector financial and economic decision making, and strategic management.

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

Getting Your PhD in Political Science Online

Getting Your PhD in Political Science Online

Earning your PhD in Political Science through an accredited online program may provide you with lucrative and rewarding career options.

This field may offer the opportunities to lead social advocacy initiatives, plan and develop public policy, develop postsecondary political science curriculum, and instruct future political science professionals.

Careers in various areas of political science are expected to experience growth over the next decade. If you are interested in advancing your career in this field, it may be an advantageous time to pursue your PhD in Political Science.

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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.