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Graduates with a master's in political science enjoy a positive career outlook. The demand for highly trained political scientists continues to grow as domestic and international public policy expands and evolves. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% growth in employment for political scientists between 2019-2029, which is faster than the average projected growth for all occupations.
Furthermore, many related professions that political science majors can pursue also boast above-average growth. This page highlights some of these career options, along with an in-depth look at common political science classes. Readers can also find more information in our master's in political science program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Political Science Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 5:
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|1||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|2||University of West Florida||Pensacola, FL|
|3||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Blacksburg, VA|
|4||Georgia State University||Atlanta, GA|
|5||Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, IL|
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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Political Science Programs
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University of Illinois Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
UIS is a public institution serving over 4,200 students. The university offers 30 bachelor's degrees, 20 master's degrees, and one doctoral program. Political science is among the most popular graduate disciplines at UIS, with degrees available on campus and online.
The university's online master's in political science primarily serves professionals seeking careers in politics or education. A majority of the program's 40-credit curriculum consists of electives, allowing students to customize the degree as desired. All students must complete a final comprehensive examination, thesis, or participant/observer case study.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a strong background in political science, history, or social sciences. All students pay a special online tuition rate, regardless of residency.
University of West Florida
|Pensacola, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
UWF is a public university with a main campus in Pensacola and additional campuses located across the region. More than 12,000 students attend each year, 29% of whom study exclusively online.
Designed for students with interests in international relations, comparative politics, and public policy, UWF's online master's degree in political science requires 33 credits. The program's synchronous delivery offers face-to-face interaction through live lectures. The curriculum culminates in a thesis or written/oral comprehensive examination.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, acceptable GRE or MAT scores, and a sample research paper. Undergraduate political science or international studies majors with a GPA of 3.25 or higher may not need to submit test scores.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
|Blacksburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
Virginia Tech is a major research university serving more than 34,000 students each year. The university encompasses a 2,600-acre main campus, a 1,800-acre agriculture research farm, facilities across the state, and an online catalog of graduate degrees and certificates.
Virginia Tech's online master's in political science requires 30 credits, including three core classes, four elective courses, and nine credits of thesis and research. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously for increased flexibility.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three letters of recommendation, a letter of interest, and a current CV. The GRE is recommended but not required. Virginia Tech enrolls approximately 30-45 online political science students.
Georgia State University
|Atlanta, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Georgia State operates six campuses throughout the Atlanta metro area. This public research university boasts one of the most diverse student bodies in the country, serving over 53,000 learners. Seventeen of the university's graduate degrees and certificates are offered fully online, including a master's in political science.
The program's 30-credit curriculum offers a concentration in professional politics, which prepares students to pursue careers in public service, lobbying, and advocacy. Available courses include campaign organization and management, interbranch politics, and a seminar in international politics. Students must complete an experiential learning project and a non-thesis research paper.
Georgia State admits new political science students each fall. Prospective students should provide two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a statement of research interests. GRE scores are required, although qualified applicants may qualify for waivers.
Eastern Illinois University
|Charleston, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
EIU is a public institution serving more than 7,000 students. The university offers 30 online degrees and certificates. EIU's online master's degree in political science with an option in public administration and public policy prepares graduates for careers in government agencies, nonprofit and civic leadership, urban planning and development, and public policy research.
Requiring 32 credits, EIU's political science curriculum provides advanced training in analytical, methodological, and theoretical approaches to the discipline. Students take core courses in public administration and research methods. Participants also complete two open electives and a capstone project.
Admission requires a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA, a personal goals statement, and two letters of recommendation. Start dates are available in the fall, spring, and summer. All online political science students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Political Science Program?
In addition to an interest in public policy, political scientists usually possess strong communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
In addition to an interest in public policy, political scientists usually possess strong communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Most master's in political science programs run for approximately two years and feature 30-45 credits.
Most master's in political science programs award an MA or an MS, though a few schools offer a master of applied politics (MAP). These degrees all offer similar core training, and employers value all three options. The MA tends to focus more on political theory, while the MS usually emphasizes research. Both of these options prepare learners for further study. The MAP is a practical option that hones in on real-world applications.
Program structure differs between degree paths, as well. Some programs require a thesis, while others feature a project-based practicum.
Students may be able to choose a concentration, which can expand their career options or strengthen their skills in a subdiscipline. Popular specialization options include American politics, political theory, nonprofit management, and political economics. If students are interested in a specific field of politics, they should consider programs that offer a concentration in that area.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Political Science Programs
To gain admission into a master's in political science program, candidates need a bachelor's degree. Some programs set GPA requirements, such as a minimum 3.0. Applicants may also need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.
Other admission requirements may include professional recommendations, writing samples, statements of purpose, and interviews. For more information on applying to a master's program, check out our graduate admissions guide.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Political Science Program?
The classes students encounter while pursuing an online master's in political science can vary considerably depending on the school, program, degree type, and concentration. While the exact titles and descriptions may differ, the following list highlights common courses found in political science programs.
- International Relations
International relations courses delve into the core institutions of international politics and the interactions and intersections between them. Students may look at major instances of war and peace, economic policies, and other monumental international affairs. Other topics covered in these courses may include international trade, human rights, and international law.
- Gender and Politics
Gender and politics courses examine the ways in which identity politics have evolved throughout history. Students learn how political institutions view gender and how laws and public policy have been shaped by identity politics. Some courses may look at international viewpoints on the topic, along with historic events in this sphere.
- Immigration Policy
Immigration policy courses explore immigration laws and rhetoric throughout history. Learners look at diversity politics and major contemporary debates in the U.S. Coursework may highlight various institutions and how they have influenced the current state of and stance on immigration policy.
- Political Theory
Courses in political theory explore the leading theories and research in public policy and political discourse. Students study some of the core political movements in history and examine the thinking and motivation behind them. They also look at the evolution of major political ideologies.
- Global Economy
Global economy courses teach students about the economies of other countries and the accumulation of national wealth. Learners look at the various institutions, structures, and events that impact capital and national growth, including labor markets, laws, political institutions, and policies.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Political Science Degree?
After earning a master's in political science, graduates may qualify for an array of professional opportunities. They can pursue various social science careers, such as political scientist or sociologist. These positions pay median annual salaries of $122,220 and $83,420, respectively, according to the BLS.
While the competition for social science positions in the government and at major public institutions may be stiff, master's degree-holders can also pursue related positions, such as economist and research analyst.
Learn more about political science careers to see how far you can go with a master's in political science.
- Political Scientist
Political scientists research and analyze political systems, institutions, and issues. They get involved in foreign relations, provide information to governments on various issues, and investigate and forecast different trends. According to BLS occupational data, 48% of these scientists work in the federal government and 26% work in professional, scientific, and technical services.
Sociologists study various groups, institutions, and organizations to gain a clearer perspective on society. They collect information through research, surveys, and interviews, using this information to investigate social theories and sociocultural behaviors. They also use sociological data to assist policymakers. According to the BLS, 38% of sociologists work in research and development, 16% work in educational services, and 15% work in state governments.
- Survey Researcher
Survey researchers create surveys to gather information, then analyze the data. They may work for organizations to generate data on employees or consumers. Alternatively, they may work for various political institutions to gather information from voters and constituents.The BLS projects these positions to decline in the coming years, so this field may be particularly competitive.
- Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts examine markets for organizations looking to provide goods and services. These analysts help determine consumer demand and price points for various products and services. They also assess risk and opportunity. According to BLS employment data, 11% of analysts work in management, scientific, and technical consulting services and 10% work in finance and insurance.
Economists study the movement of goods and services, research economic trends, and provide forecasts and analysis based on data. These professionals typically deliver their findings to businesses or governments. They may also delve into healthcare, education, or environmental issues. BLS employment dataindicates that 23% of economists work for the federal government and 18% work in scientific research and development.
Political Science Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Political Science Programs
- Is a master's in political science worth it?
A master's in political science can qualify graduates for attractive careers. The BLS projects employment in life, physical, and social sciences to grow by 5% between 2019-2029, which is faster than the average projected growth for all occupations. The median annual salary of $68,160 for these positions sits nearly $30,000 higher than the median income for all workers in the U.S.
- What can I do with a master's in political science?
With a master's in political science, graduates can pursue advanced positions in social science, such as political scientist, sociologist, or economist. They may also advance into management or continue their studies in order to qualify for careers in research and academia.
- What are the most popular jobs with a master's in political science?
Popular jobs for graduates with a master's in political science include political scientist, sociologist, campaign manager, and journalist. Many graduates work for the government as civil servants and diplomats, while others work on political campaigns. According to the BLS, more than 20,000 professionals were employed as economists in 2019, making it a popular choice in the social sciences.
- How much money can I make with a master's in political science?
With a master's in political science, graduates can earn high salaries depending on their career choice. For example, political scientists make a median annual wage of $122,220, economists make a median annual wage of $105,020, and sociologists make a median annual wage of $83,420.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in political science?
Among the social sciences, political scientists enjoy the highest pay. BLS employment data shows that these professionals make a median annual wage of $122,220. The top 10% in the field earn more than $164,210 annually.