Master’s in Political Science Program Guide

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James Mielke writes education and career-focused guides for BestColleges. Beyond higher education topics, his writing has been featured in Golfweek and Eaten Magazine. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic Grateful...
Updated on September 23, 2022
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The political science discipline is expansive and can lead to a variety of different career opportunities. Whether a student uses this degree as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. or goes on to pursue a career analyzing complex marketing data, earning a master's in political science helps learners sharpen their analytical, research, and writing skills. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The following page shines a light on this broad field, calling attention to the academic specializations and requirements commonly found in political science master's programs. In addition to academic details, this guide also highlights common career options for political science graduates. Keep reading to learn more about political science master's programs and what they can do for you.

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Should I Get a Master's in Political Science?

Graduates of political science programs can embark on various career paths involving government, business, and academia.

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Earning a master's in political science is a serious endeavor, and while it may seem like a niche topic, graduates embark on various career paths involving government, business, and academia. Because this degree cultivates strong analytical and communication skills, graduates find themselves working in disparate environments, from local nonprofits to lucrative marketing firms.

Earning a master's in political science typically takes about four semesters. Most political science master's programs require learners to finish 30-40 credits in order to graduate. In addition to on-campus options, online master's in political science programs are also available and provide working students the flexibility needed to keep up with personal and professional obligations.

Earning a degree in the social sciences and humanities, such as a political science degree, helps students develop valuable critical thinking skills that can benefit them throughout their careers.

What Will I Learn in a Political Science Master's Program?

Political science master's students learn to collect and assess vital data and write reports to explain their findings. Degree-seekers also tackle coursework in political history and theory. Common courses cover topics such as political psychology, American political culture, and comparative political economy.

Many master's programs feature a selection of concentrations that allow students to further tailor their education to match their career interests. Common political science concentrations include the political economy, international politics, and public policy. Many students also use this degree as a pathway towards further graduate-level study.


American Politics

Focusing on the myriad influences on American politics, students cover courses that investigate American political processes, American political culture, and American governmental institutions.

Public Policy

While analyzing community issues and focusing on methods to craft local, state, and federal legislation, students complete courses like policy analysis for administration, policy formation and implementation, and statistics and data analysis in political science.

Political Theory

In addition to classes involving research methods and data analysis in political science, degree-seekers explore topics like the history of political thought and contemporary political and social theory.

World Politics

Students interested in international political issues often select a world politics concentration and complete courses such as civil war and conflict processes, American foreign policy, and international law and human rights.

Urban Politics

By highlighting the contemporary and historical issues surrounding America's urban centers, learners explore policy solutions rooted in data and driven by social justice. Example courses include approaches to the study of urban politics, urban public policy, and African American politics.

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How to Get Into a Political Science Master's Program

Specific admission requirements vary between programs. However, interested learners usually need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Individuals can also expect to be asked for their official transcripts showing a cumulative GPA of around 3.0 or higher.

Other standard requirements include letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement explaining an applicant's reasons for enrolling in a political science master's program. While not all programs require standardized test scores, GRE scores are also a common requirement.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Political Science?

Earning a master's in political science can open the door to many career options. Whether a student is interested in crafting public policy, teaching, or lending their expertise to private businesses, this degree helps learners hone widely applicable analytical, communication, and research skills.

Graduates with a master's in political science can work in various settings, including governmental organizations, policy-driven nonprofits, and media companies. Due to the many different roles a master's degree-holder can pursue, a graduate's earning potential can vary dramatically. Those entering education and government roles may earn a relatively modest income compared to graduates entering the world of private industry.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

  • Ph.D. in Political Science
  • MBA
  • J.D.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Political Science?

Political science master's graduates boast an intellectual toolkit that applies to many lucrative careers. Because of the broad career opportunities, salaries can vary widely. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school teachers earn a median annual salary of about $63,000, whereas lawyers earn median wages over $126,000 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Political Science

What is political science?

Political science is a broad field where students employ the scientific method to explore political thought and behavior. Comprising many subfields, students commonly specialize in topics like American politics, public policy, and international politics.

How much does it cost to get a master's in political science?

The cost of a master's in political science program is primarily influenced by whether the college is public or private, as well as a student's enrollment status and state of residence. Public institutions traditionally offer academic programs at a significantly lower cost than their private counterparts. Additionally, in-state degree-seekers usually pay less, although some schools offer flat rates to online learners.

How long does it take to get a master's in political science?

Most political science master's programs require students to complete 30-40 credits. This typically takes full-time learners 1.5-2 years, while part-time students finish in 3-4 years. Additionally, some schools offer 4+1 political science tracks where students complete both their bachelor's and master's degrees in five years.

Is a master's in political science worth it?

Earning a master's degree in any subject requires a sizable investment of both time and money. However, a master's in political science can lead to many exciting career opportunities. During their program, students hone analytical, research, and writing skills that are valued by many employers.

Are political scientists in demand?

The BLS projects that political scientist positions will grow by 6% from 2019-2029. Additionally, other careers for political science degree-holders, such as secondary and postsecondary educators, are projected to increase by 4% and 9%, respectively. However, keep in mind that many higher education teaching roles require a Ph.D. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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