Maybe you are passionate about how societies are governed and run. And perhaps you have grown to become passionate about how people obtain power and stay in power. Perhaps you’re not even sure you want to be in politics but want to understand geopolitical behavior and the institutions that manipulate (both for good and for bad) these behaviors.
Political science is not just about politics and really casts a wide net with regards to careers. Some people involved in political science work analytically and spend a lot of their time analyzing patterns of data to make judgments about political trends. Others work as attorneys who specialize in areas like the constitution or the executive branch and help to ensure that decisions impacting government and society are lawful and just. Still, others focus on global trends and like historians may specialize in specific parts of the world honing in on a location or tying research together through a geopolitical lens. Whatever your interest or motivation chances are there is a political science career that is a great fit for you.
- The 20 Most Lucrative Political Science Careers
- Undergraduate Versus Graduate Political Science Degrees
- The 20 Best In-Person Schools for Political Science
- How to Gain Admission To a Premium Political Science School?
- Studying Online: Is it Right For Me?
- The 10 Best Online Political Science Schools
Political science is one of the most versatile degrees in terms of job opportunities. Take a quick glance at a few jobs you can’t get with a degree in political science:
- Political Scientist
- Political Consultant
- Intelligence Analyst
As you can see, a degree in political science opens doors to a number of fantastic careers. Some of them are more lucrative than others. Take a closer look at our top 20 most lucrative political science careers below.
The 20 Most Lucrative Political Science Careers
Political scientists study political systems by researching political ideologies and researching political trends. Their research typically focuses on national politics, global politics, political theory or comparative politics. Some job duties of a political scientist include:
Research foreign policy and relations
Keep taps on current events and related issues
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for political scientists was $117,570. The projected job growth between 2018 and 2028 is 5% which is about as fast as the national average. If you are looking to become a political scientist you will likely need a PhD. Political scientists typically work in an office and may have longer hours during peak political seasons. As a researcher, you may work in teams or individually so it is good to be a flexible person who likes people and can be a team player when needed.
Attorneys give legal advice as well as represent individuals, organizations, or businesses during legal disagreements. The lawyer will defend or prosecute as well as advocate for a client or establishment. As an attorney you will need to be able to:
Represent a client in a court
Advise on private legal matters
Research issues related to the law
Interpret the law
Present facts written and verbally as well as prepare legal documents such as a will
Lawyers work hard for their money oftentimes well over 40 hours a week. Beforehand you will need to complete a Juris Doctorate at a law school. So if you want to be a lawyer you must be a hard worker. It is great if you have excellent interpersonal skills but this job rewards the work ethic much more than the personality. However, some areas of law really do reward people skills. If you decide to do law for nonprofit organizations and underserved communities having a few people skills under your belt may be advantageous. The bureau of labor statistics anticipates that this position is increasing as fast as the national average. As of 2018, the median salary for lawyers was $120,910 but this number changes significantly depending on the area and the type of law you practice.
As a political scientist, a lobbyist works to influence politics in some way. However, the lobbyist does so by petitioning government officials. Lobbyists represent groups’ interests in some way and it is common to find lobbying firms using their influence in enact change in a targeted way. Some of the job duties of a lobbyist include:
Create relationships and grow those relationships
Represent clients before government officials and agencies.
Aligning your client’s policy to match government policy
Work to influence opinion
Attend important meetings such as congressional hearings and other political events
As a lobbyist, you will need to be able to influence a person’s decision so having incredible people skills is a must. Extroverts make incredible lobbyists and having a strong academic background also comes in handy when researching for your clients. This means that you will likely need an MBA or JD to become a lobbyist. The median salary of a lobbyist is $113,126. Much like a political scientist the job growth projection for a lobbyist is 5% which is about as fast as the national average.
The executive director of a non-profit organization will have responsibility for the overall strategic funding and operation of an organization. This individual will have a deep knowledge of the organization’s mission and will have a knowledge of the core programming as well as the operational needs. Take a look at a few of the non-profit executive’s job duties.
Plan, organize and direct the organization’s operations and programs.
Create more robust opportunities for funding
Motivate volunteers as well as other staff members
Evaluate and update the mission statement when needed
Report the results to the board of directors
A non-profit executive is typically a very diverse individual with an eye for business. As this position is responsible for inspiring staff, volunteers and the community you will likely need to have a positive attitude along with a great ability to work with the public and interface with people. This job requires long hours and physical stamina. As with most positions, it really helps to be a go-getter if you want to land a job like this one. The median salary for a nonprofit executive is $108,608. If you have a big heart and feel like you have what it take to make meaningful change then you may want to consider a job as an executive for a nonprofit.
Economists study the production and distribution of resources and other services as they relate to the economy. They analyze data as well as research trends and evaluate economic issues. Some of the duties of an economist include:
Research economic issues
Collect data through various means
Predict market trends
Give advice based on market trends
Create solutions to economic issues
Economists collect a lot of data and spend a good portion of their time researching and analyzing this data. Economists typically write for academic journals making this a highly specialized job that could work well for introverts of extroverts. Either way, this person will need a Ph.D. and solid number of years experience writing and researching. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this position is expected to grow at a rate of 8% between 2018-2028. The median salary as of 2018 was listed as $104,340.
A diplomat works across the globe as well as in Washington DC and reports to the US ambassador in their host country. This person seeks to promote US interests and may have to do so in hostile environments. The roles of a diplomat are wide and varied but may include duties like these:
Preventing human trafficking
Assist citizens in foreign countries
Manage operations at an Embassy
Negotiate with Foreign Officials
Engage in cultural exchanges.
As you can see the job duties of a diplomat are varied. It will depend on your area of interest and location but this job may involve crisis prevention and require you to work in conditions that are highly stressful. It is important for a diplomat to be level headed and able to work in intense settings. You are likely going to need some experience working abroad and be fluent in at least one foreign language. As a diplomat, you will need to be able to build relationships while also resolving conflicts.
A professor instructs students in a number of academic settings post highschool including public and private universities as well as junior schools and technical schools. The professor creates lesson plans for students and may engage in research. Professors have a number of job duties and roles including the following:
Teach courses in their specialized subject area
Help students to grasp academic material by delivering lessons, tests, and mentorship opportunities
General teacher duties like lesson planning and grading papers etc.
Research innovations in their field
Develop programming with colleagues
As a professor, you have a Ph.D., have likely been involved in research for a very long time, and are at the top of your academic field. The ideal person for this job works well in academic settings and has likely conducted a lot of research either individually or with their peers. You will need to be able to analyze statistics and write papers for peer review. Most professors have to spend at least part of their time teaching students so a great professor has the ability to teach and inspire. It doesn’t matter if you are introverted or extroverted- mastery of the subject matter is key oh and the desire to always learn. The median salary for a professor is $81,274.
Operations Research Analyst
An operations research analyst uses mathematics to analyze data and inform organizations to help them make better decisions as well as solve problems. The operations research analyst helps to solve problems concerning businesses, healthcare, and other fields. Here are some of the job duties of an operations research analyst:
Identify problems to solve in the field of business, politics, healthcare and more
Help managers allocate resources
Manage the supply chain
Collect data from a wide variety of sources
Give advice to managers and others who make decisions on the best course of action
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Operations Research Analyst job is growing an incredibly fast rate of 26% between 2018 and 2028. That is far faster than the national average. The median salary for this position is $83,390- a number that changes depending on the years working on the job as well as your location and your industry. Federal government analysts make $113,920 annually. This person is a well-rounded individual who can work independently and as part of a team. If you are looking to start a political career and are looking for something lucrative, this may be a great option.
A policy analyst helps to raise awareness on public issues and works to influence politics. As a policy analyst, you’ll need to analyze the effects of a policy change and create reports on your findings. Some of policy analyst’s job responsibilities include:
Reviewing legislation to determine their impact on the public
Determine the goals of the projects by meeting with stakeholders
Evaluate the effectiveness of existing policy
Write a report that condenses and consolidates evidence for stakeholders
Report on data
As of 2018, the median income for a policy analyst was $77,123. The position is expected to rise along with the national average over the next ten years. If you are wondering if you may be the ideal candidate for this position consider your goals. Do you want to be an influencer in politics? Do you see the value of data-driven solutions? Then you may want to consider becoming a policy analyst.
A political consultant promotes political interests. This is typically done with a campaign, public meeting or something similar. A political consultant has a hand in coordinating these and may use advertising, fund-raising or press release to do so. Here are some of the job duties of a political consultant:
Manage politician’s campaigns
Plan public events
Write press releases
Organize press conferences
Managing a campaign budget
It may be difficult to break into a job like a political consultant. Typically the pay starts extremely low and the hours are long. Over time, the pay-off can be big. To become a political consultant you’ll need to have grit. You need to be willing to put in the effort day in and day out and with passion. It is important to have a strong understanding of politics as well as current affairs. You’ll need to have strong analytical skills and have an understanding of what issues are important to the public. The median salary for a political consultant is $73,959, but that number changes with years on the job and location.
City planners make decisions about the best use of land in urban environments. The city planner will have an understanding of the city’s needs and keep that in mind when organizing their plan. Many city planners specialize in a specific area such as transportation, environmental impact, or design. Here are some of the city planner’s job duties:
Inform the public about development plants
Survey the land
Gather information about trends through data collection
Defend proposals before committees
City planners spend a lot of time working with attorneys as well as government workers. This job does require some savvy people skills, critical thinking, analytics, and of course some skills in the areas of persuasion. It is important for a city planner to be a flexible thinker who is a good problem solver as there will always be changes to the plan and roadblocks and hiccups are par for the course. Optimistic thinking is a good skill to cultivate as well as the ability to code-switch as you will have to talk with a number of different types of people. The median salary for a city planner is $70,020.
An intelligence analyst is a sharp data collector who gathers intelligence from a wide variety of sources. The sources include databases, surveillance, intelligence networks, and law enforcement agencies among others. Take a look at an intelligence analyst’s job duties:
Gather data from a variety of sources
Study activity relating to a specific topic such as national security
Collaborate with other individuals or agencies
Evaluate public records
Evaluate communication records
Intelligence analysts make a median salary of $69,340. This job is growing at a pace quicker than the national average and your salary will go up over time and depending on your location. An intelligence analyst is an intelligent person with incredibly astute attention to detail- bordering on the obsessive. This will make for the best intelligence analysts who get the best-paying jobs. As you have to work with a number of professionals like law enforcement etc. it is good to be a team player.
Community Service Manager
As you may have guessed a community service manager is in charge of a social service program including planning and overseeing that program. The community service manager works to ensure that a company’s budget is observed and adhered to and creates engaging community programming that reflects an organization’s mission. Take a look at some of the community service manager’s tasks:
Oversee the activities of professionals and volunteers on staff and provide training
Make sure that programming is of high quality and effective
Create training materials for the project
Provide services to clients
Create and maintain relationships with members of the community
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a community service manager made a median salary of $65,320 in 2018. This job is projected to grow at a rate of 13% which is faster than the national average. Community service managers working in government made an average of $83,660. Your location will have an impact on salary. This is a people-centered position so a community service manager should be good with people. Having some compassion is always a good thing but is particularly impactful with this job particularly as you reach out to the community and create opportunities within that community. If you enjoy hands-on community service and want to turn this passion into a profession this could be a great fit.
Marketing Research Analyst
Marketing research analysts research the market to determine potential sales and viability of a product or a service. This person helps a company understand what the public wants and with regards to politics what the public is looking for in a political candidate. Take a peek at some of the job duties:
Forecast the marketing trends
Determine the effectiveness of a marketing strategy
Use software to analyze data including using polling and other means to assess public opinion
Create ways to collect necessary data including writing questionnaires
Convert data into visual representations
Marketing research analyst is an in-demand job and the profession is expected to grow at a rate of 20% which is much faster than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics list the median salary as of 2018 as $63,120. Individuals who become marketing research analysts typically have degrees in statistics, math, or computer science. If you are looking to move into a leadership position you may need to pursue an advanced degree such as an MBA.
An arbitrator is a person who helps to facilitate conflict resolve outside of a courtroom. This person is good at negotiating and keeps the dialogue open between two conflicting parties.
Take a look at an arbitrator’s job duties:
Facilitate communication between two parties and groups while encouraging an agreement
Clarify concerns and issues
Conduct conflict resolution meetings
Plan a resolution strategy
Interview agencies or other witnesses to gather information about the issues
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arbitrators made a median salary of $62,270 in 2018. The job growth outlook is 8% which is faster than the national average. To become an arbitrator you should have a bachelor’s degree. Many positions do require a law degree or an MBA. This is a people-centered position that requires excellent communication skills. If you think you want to become an arbitrator then it is essential you are able to stay calm in conflict as well as communicate clearly and effectively. Liking people is a must.
Public Relations Specialist
A public relations specialist creates a positive image for the company they’re representing. They work on social media, with the media to shape public opinion about an organization or company as well as their understanding of that company or product. Take a look at some of the job responsibilities of a public relations specialist:
Write a press release
Communicate with the media
Ensure effective communication with the public
Match public relations efforts to an organization’s mission statement
Oversee a team of public relations officers
A public relations specialist is typically a bright extrovert who loves throwing parties and other functions that are motivating and engaging with the public. As a PR specialist, you would work closely with a team and should be very comfortable around people. Additionally, public speaking skills need to be on point. You will likely be addressing the press and the public. As a specialist you will need to have an analytical bent as part of what you’ll need to do is evaluate the public’s opinion.
A historian analyzes and interprets the past. Historians create historical documents based on research. These are just a few of the duties of a historian:
Gather historical data from a variety of sources
Analyze information related to a particular field
Trace the history of an area of the field of history
Write historical books, reports, and articles
Archive materials in museums
Historians require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. for most positions. They are usually obsessed with their area of research and are highly academic and meticulous. This position is growing at a rate of 6% which is right in line with the national average. The median salary is listed as $55,110. It takes a special commitment and level of dedication to land a job as a historian. Historians may have to work with others or teams but will often spend time alone researching, writing, and archiving.
As a legislative assistant, you work together with a legislator to edit and amend legislation. You work to resolve legislative issues through research and draft resolutions. Here’s a list of just a few duties of a legislative assistant:
Conduct research to gather information when crafting legislation
Work with press officers to create speeches and press releases
Track the progress of a bill
Set up town hall meetings
Oversee the office and ensure proper storage of documents
A legislative assistant is an organized individual with a finger on the pulse. This person is highly intelligent likely with an advanced degree like an MBA but a bachelor’s degree is an absolute must. Like with so many assistant positions it’s good to be analytical as well as just plain hard-working and good with people. This position may not be easy to land but there is plenty of opportunity for growth. The median salary for a legislative assistant is $50,360.
A paralegal sometimes referred to as a legal assistant works with a lawyer. The paralegal help to organize files and conduct research pertaining to a case. Take a closer look at a paralegal’s responsibilities:
Investigate facts for a case
Research the law and any relevant information for the case such as specific articles or regulations
Gather evidence and arrange evidence and other legal documents
Collect formal statements
Take notes during a trial
A paralegal is typically a lawyer in the making and is likely a highly intelligent person with a law degree or aspiring towards a law degree. This person is comfortable working long hours, is meticulous and very organized. Typically, this person has great interpersonal skills as they may have to get formal statements, call clients, and talk to witnesses or other lawyers. The median salary for a paralegal is $48,810.
Social Media Specialist
A social media specialist is a master of all things social media. This person understands trends and the behaviors that make conversions on social media. Here’s just a glimpse at some of the duties of a social media specialist.
Create strategies on social media to increase brand awareness
Manages and oversees social media content
Stay current with relevant changes to social media
Update social media pages regularly
Monitor user engagement on social media
If you are interested in becoming a specialist on social media it is essential that you are current in social media trends. It seems like every day there’s a new angle on Twitter and Instagram and it will be your responsibility to understand those trends. You will need to communicate with influencers on social media to create a strong network so having people skills is definitely key. The median salary for a social media specialist is $48,539.
As you can see there is a wide array of careers listed here everything from economist to social media manager. Does this inspire you to pursue a degree in political science? If you aren’t sure if you want to go for it, here are a few things to consider.
Undergraduate Versus Graduate Political Science Degrees
Generally speaking, undergraduate degrees are much broader than graduate degrees. Undergraduate degrees in political science are an excellent opportunity to gain a broad understanding of political science.
Graduate degrees, on the other hand, are much more specific and some degrees focus on research such as a Ph.D. in political science while others focus on specific areas such as a master’s of applied science in public administration. Those with a Ph.D. typically follow a career in academia, publishing, or research.
In a nutshell…
- Undergraduate degrees are broad
- Graduate degrees are more specific
Generally speaking, some of the best schools in the world offer fantastic undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and furthermore offer plenty of space within their curricula for exploring and shopping around. Brown University is famous for its open curriculum which allows students to design an entirely unique curriculum that matches the individual’s interests. But Brown isn’t the only great school with a great political science undergraduate program. Many of the best schools in the nation also have the best political science programs. Take a look at our picks for the top 20 best schools with political science degrees.
The 20 Best In-Person Schools for Political Science
Times Higher Education ranks Harvard University as the best university in the United States and the 7th best university in the world. Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the US and has influenced the world with its graduates. The list of politicians who attended Harvard is extensive. Eight U.S. presidents have attended Harvard and countless heads of government from nations across the world also can list Harvard as their alma mater. When it comes to government studies, Harvard leads the way. Their innovative programs are always changing and in fact, their undergraduate government concentration just added two new programs of study: data science and tech science. Take a look at some of Harvard’s government courses
Japan and the World
Power and Identity in the Middle East
Race in a Polarized America
Media in American Politics
Students may pursue government studies both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate students pursuing a Ph.D. must complete all academic courses in the first two years of study. If you are interested in politics and are looking for a solid way into the world of politics than a degree from Harvard University is a great way to get there.
Yale University is an Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut. The university was founded in 1718- over 300 years ago. Yale is known for its European liberal arts curriculum. Though rooted deeply in these traditions, Yale is also known for its innovation and highly creative student body and alumni. When it comes to politics, Yale has a long-standing tradition and is the alma mater for several US presidents including William Howard Taft, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush. Undergraduates may pursue a political degree in a wide range of areas including:
East Asian Studies
Ethics, Politics, and Economics
Modern Middle East Studies
Russian and Eastern European Studies
South Asian Studies
A number of these programs are also advanced degrees and students may pursue further studies in the form of a master’s or P.h.D. A degree from Yale opens doors to a world of opportunities. If you are looking to pursue a degree in politics then take a deep dive into all that Yale has to offer.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are over 25,000 students enrolled at UPenn and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. The university offers academic programming for traditional and non-traditional students and includes robust programming for continuing education and online education. UPenn also has an outstanding MOOCS offering which is open and accessible to all who wish to learn. Undergraduate pursuing a course of study in politics may choose to major in:
As a traditional student in the College of Arts and Sciences students pursuing a traditional path are encouraged to explore a major through entry courses UPenn’s MAP program and continue to explore career options through their many internships opportunities. Graduate students continue their education either through their political science P.h.D. program or their graduate certificate in politics.
Stanford University is a private university located in Stanford, California. It currently enrolls over 17,000 students while maintaining a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. Stanford is a known innovator not only in the areas of technology but in fields like education, psychology, and political science. Students may pursue an undergraduate degree in:
African American Studies
Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law
Ethics in Society
International Policy Studies
Stanford offers a wide range of programs for its students and is known for its highly specialized curriculum with an interdisciplinary approach. Their graduate students may study American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Political Methodology.
Princeton is a private Ivy League university located in Princeton, New Jersey. There are 8,374 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 5:1. Carnegie classifies Princeton as an R:1 university with very high research activity. The university is currently making headway in the areas of quantum computing, health, politics, and education. If you are looking to pursue a major in politics at Princeton consider a few of their related courses of study:
African American Studies
History and the Practice of Diplomacy
As a graduate student, you have the opportunity to take any of these degrees further pursuing a P.h.D, joint degree, or professional certification. A number of their graduate programs are interdisciplinary the Social Policy joint degree, for example pulls in programming from a number of departments including economics, politics, population studies, psychology, and sociology. This is a unique way to approach political science which prepares graduates for a wide array of career possibilities.
Brown University is a private ivy league university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown has a reputation for its innovative programming and intimate setting. The university currently enrolls 10,257 students and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1. Undergraduate students enjoy small classes and a flexible Open Curriculum that allows students to design and implement a completely personal course of study. Undergraduates all have a “shopping period” when they sample a wide array of courses. Students, therefore, approach academics interdisciplinarily. Brown believes it is important to learn how to learn. The same principles apply to political science. Even students with the same concentration will have different experiences. Take a look at a few concentrations related to political science:
Social Analysis and Research
Similarly, Brown offers a variety of master’s degrees and Ph.D. programs. These programs are extremely rigorous and the standards are high as is to be expected with any prestigious university. Brown graduates tend to go on to take positions at some of the top government and international agencies in the world.
Williams College is a private 4-years institution located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. There are just 2,149 students enrolled at Williams College and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. The vast majority of students are undergraduates. The university uses majors and concentrations. All students take classes from every college, as well as two intensive writing courses and a mathematical class. Take a look at the political science and related courses available at Williams.
Africana Studies (concentration)
Their political science major focuses on systems of power how they are achieved and challenged whereas the political economy major is an interdepartmental major that merges political economics with contemporary political issues. Similarly, the American studies major also takes an interdisciplinary approach. Students have a unique opportunity through the Williams-Exeter program to study for a full year at Oxford University.
Duke University is a private 4-year university located in Durham, North Carolina. There are over 16,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is just 6:1. This is a research institution with the highest level of research. Over 80% of Duke students are enrolled in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. Students take an entirely interdisciplinary approach and are able to design their own education from as many as three academic disciplines. As so much of what is happening in the world right now is interdisciplinary this is a great opportunity for anyone interested in political science. Over 80% of Duke students also double major. Take a look at some of the majors and minors available at Duke:
African and African American Studies
International Comparative Studies
There are literally thousands of paths to choose from if you wish to study political science at Duke. If you are looking for a high quality education with a lot of creative freedom you can’t go wrong with a political science degree from Duke University.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a world-class technology school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT is arguably the best technology school in the world but who knew they were also a great school for political science? Regardless of its name, MIT is a target for the best scholars in the world and the same can be said of all other scholars including scholars in the political sciences. Their school of Humanities, Arts and Sciences offers programming in political science and related fields. Let’s take a look:
Additional individuals looking to major in political science may elect to minor in political science, public policy, or applied international studies. Graduate students are welcome to either pursue a MS in political science or a PhD in political science.
Pomona College ranks as the 5th best liberal arts college in the US according to US News. This highly prestigious liberal arts school currently enrolls 1,573 students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. If you enjoy getting to know your classmates in an intimate setting, then a small liberal arts college like Pomona is definitely worth checking out. Pomona is located just 35 miles outside of L.A. and is a great place to kick off your life as a college student. US News also ranks Pomona College 2nd for best value schools. This well-rounded institution offers a lot of great options where political science is concerned. Take a look:
Asian American Studies
Latin American Studies
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
Russian and Eastern European Studies
As you can see, there are several options for anyone interested in politics in the US and across the globe. Over half of students at Pomona conduct research with faculty members. If you are looking for an intimate and rigorous college experience, check out the programming at Pomona.
Dartmouth is an ivy league institution located in Hanover, New Hampshire. There are 6,500 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. This research university offers a wide array of academic opportunity for any individual who is passionate about politics or global politics. There’s even an independent study option for anyone who is looking to take a deeply individualized route during their undergraduate time at Dartmouth. If you prefer a bit of structure here’s a look at some of the undergraduate degrees with a political science focus:
Political Theory/Public Law
And Courses that Cross Subfields
Their courses all sound riveting and thought provoking. Perhaps you’re thinking of studying American Politics. You may take courses like “Political Economy in the Age of Google” “Political Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories” or “Affirmative Action in Higher Education.” If you are looking to pursue a career in political science a degree in government from Dartmouth College is an awesome option.
Swarthmore College ranks as the 3rd best liberal arts college in the nation according to the U.S. News. Additional accolades include among the top for innovation, value, first-year experiences, and undergraduate research. Their political science degrees are innovative and rigorous. Not to mention, the top scholars in the world teach at Swarthmore and expect no short of brilliance from its students. In addition to political science student may also choose to study any one of these related fields:
If you are excited and passionate about politics and want a well-rounded look into both US and global politics, then you should consider Swarthmore College.
Cornell University is a private university ranked 17th in the nation according to the U.S. News. Additionally, Cornell ranks 3rd in the nation for best colleges for veterans, 23rd for value, and 19th for innovation among many other accolades. The university focuses on teaching students how to learn and Cornell’s academic offerings are rigorous and research-intensive. The faculty at Cornell are the best in the world and this certainly applies to their political science degree. Take a look at some of their degrees related to political science:
China and Asia-Pacific Studies
Policy Analysis and Management
The Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) degree is an interdisciplinary program with a focus on government and economics. This program aims to address issues facing contemporary society and how policy-making has an impact at an individual and global level. If you are interested in “lifting up the hood” to understand how globalized societies operate in the context of government as well as how these societies sustain in a globalized and ever-changing world then certainly check out this curriculum.
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private institution ranked 12th in the nation according to the U.S. News. There are just 2,233 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 3:1. Caltech is the leading science and engineering school on the west coast and a world renowned technology school. About ⅓ of all Caltech students are undergraduates and the remaining ⅔ of students are graduates. There is a strong emphasis on research and development at Caltech- ranked third in the nation for undergraduate research and creative projects according to the US News. Though specializing in science and engineering, Caltech offers its own special brand of political science programming. Students will be able to:
Apply game theory to politics
Use theoretical tools applied to politics
Apply quantitative methods to study politics
Present complex material in research projects
Caltech is clearly unique but completely on the pulse of the times. To understand these larger systems and their interconnectivity it is essential that we have an understanding of patterns of government and their trends. If you are interested in how these methods overlap with current trends in local and global politics, Caltech may be a good fit for you.
Columbia University is an ivy league institution located in New York, New York. There are 31,077 students enrolled and Columbia still manages to maintain a student-to-faculty ratio of just 6:1! The majority of students are graduate students though thousands of students study at the brick and mortar location in New York City. Situated in the largest city in the United States, Columbia is committed to academics in a greater context. The university offers a wide range of degrees in the field of political science including
African American Studies
East Asian Studies
Economic Policy Management
Economics Political Science
Gender and Public Policy
International Conflict Resolution
Political Science Statistics
Politics and Education
This is just a small sample of the political science degrees offered at Columbia many of which are offered at the graduate level. If you are looking for comprehensive programming in political science then Columbia University is where to start.
Amherst College is a private 4-year institution located in Amherst, Massachusetts. There are 1,855 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. Amherst College ranks 2nd in the US for National Liberal Arts Colleges, 3rd for best value school, 3rd for best learning community, and 18th for most innovative schools according to the US News. The college focuses on small classes as well as an open curriculum- Amherst is for the curious types! If you are curious about how politics works in today’s society, then take a look at some of what Amherst has to offer.
Latinx and Latin American Studies
The political science major is highly individualized as students design their own program. You will conduct research “across the geo political spectrum”. Some of the current courses include “Trump and the Media” “Guns in American Politics” “Contemporary Debates: Gender and Right-Wing Populism” and “Political Ethnography.” If you consider yourself to be curious and passionate about learning then certainly investigate Amherst College.
Wellesley College ranks as the 3rd top liberal arts college in the US and the 8th best value school and 25th for best undergraduate teaching. It is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts and currently enrolls 2,534 students all of whom are women. The student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1. Wellesley’s core values focus on discovery, equality, community, empowerment and social change. With social justice at the heart of their core value system it may come as no surprise that studying political science at Wellesley reflects that. Let’s take a closer look at some of the academic departments and majors related to political science:
Women’s and Gender Studies
As you can see diversity is at the core. Many students will include a minor or pursue an interdepartmental major like Asian American Studies, Health and Society, Jewish Studies, Russian Area Studies and more. If you are looking for an intimate college setting with a rigorous thoughtful curriculum for women then take a look at Wellesley.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private 4-year institution that enrolls 17,000 students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. It is listed as a doctoral university with very high research activity. According to US New, University of Chicago is the 6th best school in the nation and also ranks highly for innovation and value. As the university is located in Chicago, the city itself impacts their curriculum and method of instruction and students can expect to find a wide range of academic offerings in disciplines like health, economics, education, political science, and the arts. Students pursuing a degree as an undergraduate of political science may study courses like:
Graduate students do not have to follow a rigid curriculum and may pick and choose courses to fit their interests. All graduate students take comprehensive degrees and write their thesis.
Northwestern University is a private 4-year institution located in Evanston, Illinois. There are 22,127 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. Northwestern University ranks as the 9th best school in the nation and highly also for value, innovation, undergraduate teaching, internship opportunities, and undergraduate research. Its world university ranking is 22. If you want to study it chances are you can at Northwestern- everything from opera to biotechnology. When it comes to the social sciences Northwestern offers degrees in areas like:
Econometrics and Quantitative Economics
International Relations and Affairs
Political Science and Government
If you are looking to study political science but would like a wide range of areas to choose from then consider programming at Northwestern.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a private institution located in Baltimore, Maryland. There are 26,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. The university ranks as the 10th best in the nation and highly for value, innovation, engineering, and undergraduate research. Baltimore is a close neighbor to Washington D.C. which means that when studying at JHU you are right on the beat of politics. Take a look at some of the Political Science programming available at JHU:
Economics and Quantitative Economics
International Relations and Affairs
Political Science and Government
Students may study political science at the undergraduate or graduate level and choose from either a political science concentration or an international studies concentration. You will learn about a wide range of political processes. If you want to be in the thick of it all while studying politics then we highly recommend investigating Hopkins.
How to Gain Admission To a Premium Political Science School
Maybe you’re taking a look at the above schools and thinking to yourself, “but how do I actually get admitted to one of the best schools in the world?” As someone pursuing a career in political science chances are you have noticed that our top politicians call schools like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton their alma mater. The best schools tend to invest in the best people and offer need-blind tuition to recruit students from all socioeconomics backgrounds. We all aspire to become one of the best, but how do you gain acceptance into a school like Harvard?
The first thing to do is to apply to that school and to be sure that you have a stellar application.
Here’s our list of things to have or do before you make your application:
- Get your GPA up. Even if you need to do some extra credit or stay after. Do it. You will need to have a nearly perfect GPA to gain admittance into one of these schools
- Research the program you’re interested in. This especially applies to graduate programs and Ph.D. programs. You will want to know everything about each professor and their research. Become an expert in the program you’re applying to.
- Start writing your statement of purpose early and get an editor to look over it and help you to hone your pitch. Many of the best schools can overlook one thing but do not overlook the statement of purpose. Have research embedded within your essay and show those professors that know their research.
- Study for your exams. Either join a group or get some 1:1 time with a tutor and make exams like the SAT or GRE a priority in your life.
- Apply to multiple schools. Just because you’re not a good fit for one program doesn’t mean you will be a bad fit for other programs.
- Introduce yourself ahead of the application. Don’t expect to hear back from a busy professor but make the time to reach out, anyway.
You won’t be accepted unless you apply and if you feel passionate about anything you can do it.
Brick and mortar locations are not for everyone. In fact, many people will find many more opportunities to learn if they learn online. Online learning is typically less expensive and much quicker. Since time is money for most, less time means more money saved. Maybe you’re not sure that learning online is a good fit for you. There are are few things to consider before signing up for an online degree.
Studying Online: Is it Right For Me?
Sure, studying online saves time and money but that doesn’t mean it is always right for someone.
People who do well with online education typically have:
- A need to be remote
- A family or a job they are already committed to
- The ability to study independently
- Fine-tuned executive functioning skills like planning and fine-tuning
People who may want to consider doing an in-person degree:
- Enjoys the community of learners and feels they need to work in groups
- Not easily motivated on their own
- Likes the routine of going into school
Not all of us will have a choice and many people will find themselves in a situation where they would have liked to study in person but have found that in all likelihood they will need to pursue a degree online to make their career in political science a success.
We completely understand. No matter what your reasons we took a look at the best schools offering degrees online in the field of political science.
When making our selection we considered a few important metrics:
The academic ranking of the school.
The graduation rate of each program.
The students’ earnings after graduation.
Academic ranking matters and we considered US News overall ranking of each institution when making our final decision.
Graduation rates matter as we consider successful completion to be a reflection of the efficacy of the program.
Earning after graduation matter as heading back to school is an investment and we think it should pay off in the end.
With that in mind take a look at the programs selected for the top 10 best online political science degrees.
The 10 Best Online Political Science School Degree Programs
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins Univerity (JHU) is a private university ranked among the top schools in the nation. It is located in Baltimore, Maryland and in addition to its highly ranked brick and mortar classes, JHU offers some of the best online education options in the world. Their online graduate programs in government studies rank at the top of the list for a number of reasons including their academic rank, the average salary of its graduates upon completion, and their graduation rate- theirs is 93%! Here is a list of their online graduate-level government programs:
Master of Arts in Global Security Studies
Master of Arts in Government
Master of Arts in Non-governmental Organization Management
Master of Arts in Public Management
Master of Science in Data Analytics and Policy
Master of Science in Geospatial Intelligence
Master of Science in Government Analytics
Master of Science in Intelligence Analysis
Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Nonprofit Management
Some of their online programs examine governmental institutions, policy, and society while others focus on statistical analysis, public management, and geospatial analytics. As a graduate student, you have options and chances are if you have an interest in political science, JHU has a degree to match your interest.
Virginia Tech University
Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public 4-year institution located in Blacksburg, Virginia. There are 34,683 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. The U.S. News ranks Virginia Tech as the 74th best school in the nation and 30th for top public schools as well as 42nd for most innovative schools. VT ranks near the top of our list for its high graduation rate, national ranking, and for the average salary of its graduates. VT offers an online Master of Arts in Political Science. Their program offers both a political science foundation along with a foundation in social science research methodologies. Take a closer look at their course list to determine if this online degree might be a good fit for you.
Collaborative Governance and Civil Society
Contemporary Political Theory
Alternative Perspective in Political Theory
Identity Migration and Place
And Much More
As you can see this is a very thorough online program that covers a wide range of topics related to political science. If you are looking to study political science and would like to follow a broad and comprehensive curriculum than the degree from Virginia Tech may be a good fit for you.
Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU)is a private university that enrolls just over 10,000 students at their campus in Marion and far more when you consider their online programming. Their U.S. News ranking is 25th for the best school in the region and 14the for best undergraduate teaching university. We selected IWU for its ranking high ranking according to Times Higher Education. The program is an undergraduate degree in political science that aims to prepare students for a career as a political scientist, history teacher, sociology teacher, and anthropologist. Here is a sample of the courses:
State and Local Government and Politics
American Foreign Relations
Religion and Politics
Comparative Economic Systems
American Political Parties
As you can see IWU offers an exceptionally thorough degree in political science and would be a good fit for any person looking to change careers or simply looking to complete their bachelor’s degree online.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private 4-year institution located in Manchester, New Hampshire. There are over 100,000 students the vast majority of which are online. Their brick and mortar campus maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1 but when factoring in the online campus the student-to-faculty ratio jumps to 24:1. Of their many online programs is SNHU online bachelor’s degree (BA) in political science. We selected this degree for the high graduate salary as well as the high graduation rate. SNHU aims to equip its students with “higher-order skills” including “writing, communication, analysis, problem-solving.” These skills translate into marketable skills that are generally in demand in the market place. Here’s a closer look at their curriculum:
Introduction to Statistical Analysis
United States History
Globalization and World Politics
Modern War and Society
Sociology of Social Problems
And much more
The course offers the freedom to take electives. Electives are an important part of any undergraduate degree as it gives students an opportunity to explore areas that may be of interest. The grand total number of credits required for this online bachelor’s degree in political science is 120.
George Washington University
George Washington Univerity is a private 4-year university located in the District of Columbia. It currently enrolls 28,000 students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. According to US News, George Washington University (GWU) ranks as the 70th best university in the nation, 42nd best for veterans and 86th for the best value. Their academic ranking along with the expected salary for its graduates are among the reasons that GWU made it to our ranking for the best online programs in political science. They also offer a number of online degrees and professional certifications in the area of political science. Here’s a list:
Budget and Public Finance Certificate
Strategic Governance and Political Management Certifications
Master of International Policy and Practice
Master of Professional Studies in Political Communications and Government
Master of Professional Studies in Political Management
As you can see there’s a lot to choose from though some programs like the International Policy and Practice Master’s requires a number of years of professional experience before initiating the program The Master of Professional Studies in Political Communications and Governance is taught entirely in Spanish to students in Latin America and Spain.
John Brown University
John Brown University is a private Christian university located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. It currently ranks as the 11th best school in the region according to US News as well as the 4th best college for veterans, and 15th best value school. This is a small private school with just 2,416 students enrolled and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. We ranking JBU for its high academic ranking and for the high salary its students receive upon graduation. JBU offers an online Bachelor’s of Science in the Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Communication, Politics, and Ethics. Take a look at their concentrations:
Politics and Ethics
The communications emphasis includes courses in business communication, public speaking, social movements, political communication, online advocacy, and principles of marketing. The politics and ethics emphasis includes courses on leaders in history, American government and politics, political philosophy, and religion and politics.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public university located in Iowa City, Iowa. There are 31,656 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. Carnegie ranks U Iowa as an R:1 university for having the highest level of research activity. According to U.S. News U Iowa ranks as the 84th best university in the nation, 52nd best college for veterans, and 76th best value school. They made it to our ranking for their high graduation rate, and excellent academic ranking. The College of Liberal Arts offers an online bachelor’s in political science. This Bachelor of Arts (BA) is an online course taught by on-campus faculty. Take a look at some of the courses you will take with this program.
Introduction to American Politics
American Foreign Policy
Social Media and Politics
Politics of Race
And Many More
If you are looking for a high-value online bachelor’s in political science with a well-rounded curriculum then look no further than U Iowa.
Indiana University Bloomington is a highly ranked public university that enrolls 43,505 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. US News ranks IU Bloomington as the 79th best school in the nation and highly for veterans as well as value. They offer an online Bachelor of Science in Political Science that studies “government public policies and political processes” that open the doors to exciting careers in state and local governments as well as international organizations. Here’s a closer look at their core curriculum:
Comparative Politics/ International Relations
This program requires students to fulfill 30 credit hours of their general education classes, a15 hours for their core political science classes and 21 credit hours of the advanced political scienc curriculum as well as general elective courses where possible.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University is a large public research university located across the state of Arizona. It enrolls over 50,000 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1. According to the U.S. News ASU ranks as the 117th best school in the nation, 10th for best undergraduate teaching, 53rd for best public school and 1st for most innovative school. In recent years ASU has made a name for itself in online education and their online bachelor of science in political science is among the best. Their curriculum focuses on contemporary issues that face politics including geopolitics and economics. Take a look at a few of the courses:
Empirical Political Injury
American Government and Politics
You will have the opportunity to study politics at the local as well as international level and this program also includes two courses in science and society such as courses like “women and health” “global health” and “technology and society.”
Oregon State University
Oregon State University is a public 4-year research university located in Corvallis, Oregon. There are 30,986 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1. According to the US News, Oregon State ranks as the 139th best school in the nation, 99th best college for veterans, and 76th for best undergraduate teaching. Their online programs made it to our ranking for their academic ranking and for the high salary for its graduates. OSU offers both a bachelor of science in political science as well as a bachelor of arts. Here’s a list of some of the course topics:
American politics and government
Current issues in rural politics
Eastern and Central European politics
Middle East politics
As you can see, students pursuing an online course through OSU have the opportunity to study local and global politics gaining perspective on how the US is viewed abroad. OSU approaches political science from a broad perspective. If this is you, check out their programming today.
Maybe you’re looking to learn how to research to keep in touch with political trends or maybe you are interested in becoming a mover and shaker in your local community and are looking for a broad undergraduate degree to help you grasp the overall basics of political science. No matter who you are, if you are interested in political science there are some fantastic options out there.