Political science is an academic area of study concentrated in the political theories and practices of different government systems. This multidisciplinary field also examines how wealth and resources have historically been ― and currently are ― distributed among populations of cities, states and provinces, countries, and other governmental jurisdictions, as well as the laws and policies that have guided and continue to influence these provisions. Subfields of political science include: comparative politics, or the science of weighing differences and similarities between governments; international or global relations; public administration; and public health. Political science often leans on other academic disciplines, including social sciences like history, sociology, anthropology, and economics, as well as law, criminal justice, and public policy.
Political science is one of the most popular areas of study among U.S. undergraduate students, and The Princeton Review ranks 'government/political science' as the third best college major. The bachelor's in political science will prepare students for a wide range of career paths in both the government (public) and private sectors. The curricula of these bachelor's programs is grounded in history, economics, political theory, social advocacy, and law. Many bachelor's in political science pathways culminate in a capstone experience, which typically entails a comprehensive research project that addresses a current trend or hot topic in the global political sphere. An internship may be required, as well. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's in political science online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online bachelor's in political science degree programs is also a good fit for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties, and other commitments that potentially conflict with commuting to a college campus.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's in political science and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A POLITICAL SCIENCE DEGREE?
Graduates with a bachelor's in political science are prepared for many careers, including paralegal, political scientist, and public relations specialist. Read more here..
- WHAT JOBS CAN YOU GET WITH A POLITICAL SCIENCE DEREE?
Political science jobs include technical writer, fundraiser, and political scientist. Read more here..
- WHAT IS A POLITICAL SCIENCE DEGREE?
Political science programs focus on political theories and different government systems. It's a multidisciplinary field that covers how resources are distributed, laws, policies, and more. Read more here..
- IS A POLITICAL SCIENCE DEGREE WORTH IT?
Graduates with a political science degree are prepared for many positions that currently have a low unemployment rate, such as paralegal and public relations specialist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects many of these positions to grow. Read more here..
- IS POLITICAL SCIENCE A LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE?
No. Both programs are multidisciplinary, but political science has more of a focus on government policy, resource distribution, and law. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
A bachelor's in political science online degree will introduce students to the foundational theories and practices that have shaped modern politics, laws, and government systems.
Coursework will involve extensive study in both the U.S. government and the governments of other countries, often as part of side-by-side comparisons. Other courses will delve into social justice and advocacy, highlighting some of the defining social issues of the past and present. Capstone projects allow students to draw on the skills and knowledge they have acquired to create a comprehensive report, and internships prepare students for the realities of today's work environments.
WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Bachelor's in political science online programs offer a flexible, easily-accessible alternative to traditional higher learning. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their own home. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi-compatible devices.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE?
Bachelor's in political science recipients are typically well-suited for jobs in law, policy, criminal justice, and other fields related to political theories and practices. In addition, many of these students find careers in occupations that require skills in leadership and communication, as well as a background in liberal arts, social sciences, and social advocacy. These include roles in fields like public relations, human resources, sales and marketing, social work, and community management. The bachelor's in political science can also serve as a stepping-stone toward a master's or Ph.D. in political science; a graduate degree is often the minimum educational attainment level for political scientists, as well as political science teachers.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's in political science programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor's degree in political science, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Political Science Programs
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
With enrollment exceeding 68,000 students, UCF ranks as the largest university in Florida. This regionally accredited state school based in Orlando offers over 220 degrees across 13 colleges. The school also extends UCF programs through 10 regional campuses and an online presence that dates back 20 years.
UCF offers more than 90 fully online bachelor's and degree completion programs, undergraduate minors, and graduate degrees and certificates. The 120-credit BA in political science prepares students for graduate studies and a spectrum of careers in politics, public service, and the private sector. Learners develop skills like critical reasoning, analytical thinking, and effective communication through 10 upper-level courses.
Students enrolled in UCF's online political science degree choose between three concentration options: American politics and policy, international relations-comparative politics, and pre-law. Students can customize their track from more than 140 courses, but the courses must draw from three designated areas: American politics and policy (area A), international relations and comparative government (area B), and political theory (area C).
For example, students who choose the American politics track must take two courses from area A, plus two additional courses from areas A, B, or C for 12 credits total. The pre-law track, meanwhile, follows a different roadmap, with students required to take nine courses from all three areas for 27 credits.
Topics include public opinion, interest groups, politics of developing areas, modern political ideologies, and politics and literature. This online bachelor's degree in political science does not require a capstone, and full-time students can graduate in four years.
UCF admits new students based on high school academic performance and SAT or ACT scores. First-year students from the Fall 2018 class averaged a 4.12 GPA. UCF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Based in Miami, Florida, FIU serves more than 54,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, placing it among the 10 largest universities in the United States. Founded in 1965, this public research university offers over 200 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs, including more than 125 programs available online.
The fully online bachelor of arts in political science engages students in the analysis of political theories, institutions, and processes like voting and campaigning. Learners gain the skills to pursue advanced studies or a career in government or the private sector.
The curriculum explores four subfields of political science: American government and politics, comparative politics, political theory, and international politics. Students acquire an in-depth understanding of the discipline while developing their interest in civic engagement, political participation, and public affairs.
Core requirements for this online bachelor's degree in political science comprise 36 credits: nine in departmental requirements, 24 in breadth requirements, and six in electives. Students study diverse topics related to the political systems and ideas that affect individuals and society as a whole. These topics include education, housing, healthcare, military conflict, and economics.
The program's flexibility allows learners to tailor the curriculum for general or specialized knowledge within the field. Learners can apply independent studies or internships toward the program's elective requirements.
To apply to FIU, applicants must demonstrate a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university's admissions committee evaluates applicants' grades and test scores to determine their best enrollment pathway. FIU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty enrolls over 100,000 students a year, including about 30,000 military students. Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the private Christian university offers over 600 programs of study, including 300 residential programs and more than 400 online programs through 17 colleges and schools.
The 120-credit BS in political science provides students with a historical and theoretical foundation in politics. Learners study political theory, law, and economics on their way toward gaining a better understanding of the political forces that affect people, communities, businesses, and institutions.
This online political science degree equips graduates with enhanced skills in communication and analytical thinking, and prepares them for work as public servants, scholars, and future policymakers. Course topics include American political processes, international relations, foreign policy, and constitutional history.
Because Liberty integrates a biblical worldview into each of its academic programs, political science students must complete three classes, or 12 credits, on Christian life and thought. However, Liberty waives up to two of these courses depending on how many credits a student transfers into the program.
Liberty boasts a generous transfer credit policy, accepting up to 75% of a program's required credits. Students take 3.5 years on average to complete the online political science degree, but those who apply transferable credits can graduate in less time. Classes at Liberty run for eight weeks.
The university requires applicants to hold a minimum 2.0 GPA or higher. Liberty may accept applicants with lower GPAs on a conditional basis, requiring students to meet outlined criteria within a semester.
University of Illinois - Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Twenty-six years after the school's founding, UIS joined the University of Illinois system in 1995. Today, the public university serves an estimated 5,000 students in Springfield and online. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, UIS offers more than 50 programs in the areas of business, education, human services, the liberal arts and sciences, and public affairs and administration.
The BA in political science provides students with a solid foundation in the philosophical, empirical, and policy concerns at the center of the discipline. Graduates go on to work in law, politics, public service, research, and education. Students can complete all courses online and can fulfill the internship requirement from their location.
The 120-credit online political science degree emphasizes the complementary learning impact of theory and practice. All political science students at UIS complete at least 10 credits of engaged citizenship common experience requirements, with six credits applied toward the compulsory internship. The major requires students to complete 17 credits in core courses and 15 in political science electives, which allow students to further focus their degree in a particular area of interest, such as global studies, public policy, or democracy.
UIS considers each applicant's class rank, GPA, and test scores when making admissions decisions. The university recommends that prospective students submit a personal statement. For the online political science degree program, students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and live 50 miles beyond the Springfield city limits.
Texas Tech University
|Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Located in Lubbock, Texas, TTU enrolls over 38,000 students annually. The regionally accredited public research university administers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs through 12 colleges and schools. TTU's offers 85 online programs, allowing distance learners to choose from over 50 degrees and 30 graduate certificates.
The 120-credit BA in political science provides students with a solid foundation in the discipline, while allowing them to focus on an area of substantive interest, such as the administrative processes of government. Through TTU's fully online political science degree, students gain a broad understanding of politics, law, and civil service, plus insight into political values, foreign policy, and domestic affairs.
Political science students complete 30 credits for the major, beginning with classes on political analysis, comparative politics, and international politics. Learners also take three courses in communications literacy, and round out the major with five additional political science courses of their choosing.
TTU offers four concentrations: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and policy and public administration. Students who do not choose an area of emphasis graduate with a general BA in political science. For each concentration, learners take four courses for 12 credits, for which they must earn a C grade or better.
The College of Arts and Sciences allows students to transfer up to 90 hours of approved coursework. Learners can transfer up to 72 credits from courses completed at the junior college level. To graduate, students must earn the final 30 credits of the online political science degree at TTU. TTU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Oregon State University
|Corvallis, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
OSU in Corvallis, Oregon is one of only two land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant universities in the United States. The public research university draws more than 28,000 students from all 50 states and 100 countries. Regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, OSU administers more than 200 academic programs, including over 55 online offerings.
OSU online learners can earn a BA or BS in political science in four years, with a specialization in one of three areas: environmental and energy politics, international affairs, or law and politics. Graduates leave equipped with the skills to critically reason, analyze, and debate the issues currently defining politics, policy, and activism.
Both online bachelor's degree programs in political science require students to complete 52 credits in the major, along with 15 credits in the liberal arts core. As part of the 48-credit baccalaureate core, students study research methods and methodologies to satisfy the writing-intensive requirement. Thirty-six of the major's 52 credits, meanwhile, must come from upper-division courses. Students typically take foundation courses during their first and second years.
Sample course topics include politics and the media, civil rights and liberties, U.S. energy policy, and democratization. Learners who choose a general major instead of a concentration must take one course from three of the four featured political science subfields: U.S. government and politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political thought.
Students can transfer part of their degree requirements through previously earned college credit, which the admissions committee reviews upon admittance into OSU. OSU terms start four times per year.
|Bloomington, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
The first IU online courses launched in 1995, and the public university system now offers more than 120 online programs of study, plus digital access to hundreds of classes from all nine IU campuses. IU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The fully online bachelor of science in political science introduces students to government, public policy, and political processes and systems. From the 120-credit curriculum, students complete 36 credits in political science core and advanced courses.
Topics include constitutional law, urban politics, political philosophy, public opinion, and political participation. The program encourages students to develop a specialization on their own through elective courses in areas such as international relations, world political regions, and political theory.
Along with a greater understanding of government and politics, students in this program also develop their ability to write well, argue persuasively, and think logically. This online political science degree prepares students for graduate studies and to enter the workforce in fields like government, law, business, education, research, and journalism.
IU provides distance learners with the same services available to on-campus students, including one-on-one academic advising, math and writing support, library resources, and career services. Students also receive a full suite of software, collaboration tools, cloud storage, and training to foster their success in online learning.
Full-time students can complete the BS in political science in four years. The admissions committee reviews applications on a rolling basis and allows students to transfer up to 90 credits from a regionally accredited institution.
University of Iowa
|Iowa City, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Founded in 1847, UI in Iowa City, Iowa represents the oldest institution of higher education in the state. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, UI enrolls nearly 33,000 students from 114 countries and all 50 states. The university features more than 200 majors, minors, and certificate programs. For online and distance learners, UI offers over 40 programs and more than 600 courses.
The university offers the BA in political science entirely online. Political science majors must complete 36 credits in the major. They may choose from between eight areas of emphasis: American institutions, political behavior, political communication, identity politics, political economy, political theory, politics of foreign countries, or international relations. Students can choose up to two concentrations, or opt for a general track.
Through this fully online political science degree, students explore the dynamics of local, national, and international government and politics. They acquire in-demand skills, such as critical thinking, data gathering and analysis, and oral and written communication.
With the help of a departmental adviser, students in this online bachelor's degree in political science craft a curriculum that reflects their academic and career goals. All students take one foundational course in American politics, then choose introductory and advanced courses that best match their interests. For each concentration, learners complete four courses.
UI admits new students for the fall and spring terms. Transfer students may apply up to 60 credits from coursework completed at community or junior colleges. Students with courses from institutions without regional accreditation can still apply; in such cases, the admissions committee uses recommendations and guidance from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers or the American Council on Education to determine transferability.
Kennesaw State University
|Kennesaw, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Serving 35,000 students, Kennesaw State is part of the University System of Georgia and is the third-largest university in the state. Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, Kennesaw State offers more than 150 programs, including 70 online programs.
The 120-credit BS in political science explores the formal institutions and processes of government. The program emphasizes the use of empirical and normative research methods in gaining a greater understanding of the issues, behavior, and ongoing discourse of today's political landscape.
The online political science degree serves a diverse set of students, including learners who wish to pursue graduate study or law school and individuals looking to launch their careers in state and local government, business, education, communications, or public and international affairs.
Political science students complete 45 total credits in the major, including 15 credits in upper-division electives and 15 credits in related studies like employment law, public and urban economics, and statistical methods. For the core requirements, students must choose one course from four political science subfields, with options including American government and politics, global studies, political theory, public law and administration, and research methods.
Kennesaw State accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions from courses passed with a 2.0 GPA. The university also recognizes learning gained from sources other than college, including work experience, professional training, and the military. Students may receive up to 30 credits through AP and CLEP exams.
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
|La Crosse, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
UW-La Crosse enrolls over 9,700 undergraduates and 850 graduate students annually. The students represent 42 states and 32 countries, and the school maintains a 19-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Founded in 1909 as a training school for teachers, the public university now offers more than 130 programs across five schools and colleges exploring business, arts and communication, the liberal studies, science and health, and education.
The 120-credit BS in political science studies the governments, policies, and institutions within the political world. This program also examines the behavior of individuals inside and outside of government to better understand how political structures, like a democracy, function and effect change.
Students complete 30 credits for the major, including 15 in foundation courses, nine in areas of inquiry, and six in electives. This online political science degree prepares students to pursue advanced study or enter the workforce. UW-La Crosse offers a broad-based approach to political science, which enables students to choose from various paths.
For the areas of inquiry, students must take one course in three of four subfields of political science: American government, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. For their electives, learners can add more courses in either political science or public administration. Course topics include the American presidency, the judicial process, interest group politics, international law, health policy, and classical political theory.
Full-time students can complete all general education, core, major, and baccalaureate degree requirements in four years. UW-La Crosse holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
|Indianapolis, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Founded in 1969 following a merger between Indiana and Purdue universities, IUPUI now offers more than 350 academic programs through 17 degree-granting schools and two colleges. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, this public research university based in Indianapolis, Indiana serves over 28,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year.
IUPUI offers more than 120 fully online and hybrid programs. The 120-credit bachelor of science in political science examines governments and political behavior, along with the political processes and systems in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Students complete 36 credits in the major: five core courses, and seven advanced-level courses. For the core requirements, learners study American politics, and at least two of the three subfields of political science: political theory, comparative politics, or international relations.
This comprehensive curriculum focuses on understanding the people who run governments and the sources of their authority. Students gain insight into political decisions and how these decisions apply to diverse areas, including the economy, the environment, criminal justice, and civil rights and liberties.
Through this online political science degree, learners acquire various applicable skills, including the ability to write well and the capacity to think logically and analytically. Graduates leave prepared for advanced studies or work in several fields, including law, government, education, the public sector, and public service.
This online political science degree allows students to complete all requirements entirely online, and offers the same opportunity to engage with IUPUI professors and peers, and seek academic support when needed. IUPUI reviews new applications on a rolling basis.
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
|Whitewater, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
UW-Whitewater operates as a four-year university in the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System. Founded in 1868 as a teachers' college, UW-Whitewater serves more than 13,000 students through four academic colleges: arts and communication, business and economics, education and professional studies, and letters and sciences.
The university offers 170 majors and minors and holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. UW-Whitewater's online offerings include fully online degrees and certificates and professional development programs. The online BS and BA in political science enable transfer and returning students to complete their degrees from where they reside.
Both online bachelor's degree programs in political science provide learners with the opportunity to take courses across all areas of the discipline. The department curriculum divides into five areas, guiding students in creating a balanced course of study in the social science for 34 credits total. Students can major in general political science or opt to take courses in the legal studies emphasis, which provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary overview of public law.
After meeting the breadth requirements, students can concentrate on one of the following areas: American government, public policy/administration, comparative government, international relations, or political theory. Learners can explore topics including the legislative process, civil rights, advocacy, criminal justice, and government budgeting.
To transfer into either the BS or BA in political science degree-completion program, students must demonstrate a cumulative 2.0 minimum GPA for all previous college coursework. Entrance into the political science major requires students to take introductory courses in American government politics, state and local government, and international politics.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
FHSU in Hays, Kansas enrolls over 15,000 students each year, including more than 7,000 online learners. From the FHSU virtual college, students can choose from more than 200 online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, specialist, or doctoral levels. FHSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
The 124-credit BA in political science combines theory coursework with experiential learning. Students complete 34 credits for the major, including 22 in core courses and 12 in political science subfields. FHSU students can choose between pre-law and public administration concentrations. The school also offers a BS in political science, with similar coursework but a heavier emphasis on math and science.
The pre-law concentration prepares students for the rigors of law school. Learners participate in lectures, seminars, mock trials, and court simulations. Courses cover topics like constitutional law, American civil liberties, and the basics of legal research. Taking this area of focus also prepares future law students for the LSAT exam.
The public administration concentration, meanwhile, readies students for work in public service at the local, state, and federal levels. Students learn to translate politics into policy and acquire broad, applicable skills in critical thinking, research proficiency, and oral and written communication.
All students must take 10 hours in one of the following modern languages: Spanish, Chinese, French, or German. They also must take four courses for 12 credits in four of the five political science subfields: American politics, international relations/comparative politics, public law, political theory, or public administration/public policy.
Course topics in this online political science degree include American political parties, political behavior, world politics, foreign policy, legal advocacy, philosophy of law, and policy analysis.
|Middlesex County, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Founded in 1766, Rutgers serves more than 58,000 students across three campuses in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick, New Jersey. This public research university also offers degrees and certificates through online and hybrid learning.
Rutgers offers its BA in political science online through a degree completion program. Students can earn their degrees for career advancement or as a step toward earning an advanced degree in political science, law, or public administration. Learners can take classes at local partner community colleges, such as Mercer County Community College and Raritan Valley Community College, which feature online components affording students ample flexibility and convenience. Many students continue to work full time while taking classes.
Students pursuing this online political science degree complete 12 major-related courses for 36 credits. They must take classes in theoretical approaches to politics, American institutions and politics, and foreign and international politics. Learners round out their programs of study by choosing five additional courses that reflect their particular interests in the field.
To gain admission into the program, applicants must hold an associate degree or have achieved junior-level college status. Students must take at least eight of the 12 required courses at Rutgers. Additionally, they may apply up to six credits of independent study, internships, or thesis work toward degree requirements.
Applicants to degree completion programs through Rutgers Statewide Partnerships do not need to provide their high school transcripts; however, they must submit official transcripts for every college they previously attended. Rutgers only requires SAT or ACT scores from students who graduated high school less than two years prior. Rutgers holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of Massachusetts - Lowell
|Lowell, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Located about 20 miles northwest of Boston, UMass Lowell offers more than 170 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 18,000 students. This public research university also administers over 50 accredited degrees and programs online in the fields of liberal arts, psychology, and information technology.
The 120-credit bachelor's degree in liberal arts provides students with a multidisciplinary education they can apply to various career paths or graduate study pursuits. The program offers nine concentrations, including art history, legal studies, and political science. Students develop a variety of valuable skills, including how to think critically, solve problems creatively, and communicate well. Graduates acquire a broad foundation in science and the humanities, in addition to a deep understanding of their specialization areas.
All learners choose two concentrations, taking six courses in each for a total of 36 credits. Students who wish to stay within the social sciences can choose from political science, economics, and psychology. In the political science concentration, participants examine the nature of government and politics at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Course topics include political processes; political systems; constitutional law; Congress; and the social issues affecting law, policy, and business.
Students can take all courses online, making the program especially attractive to individuals seeking a flexible learning schedule. UMass Lowell accepts up to 90 transfer credits into its bachelor's programs. All online students pay the same tuition rates, regardless of their state of residence. The university accepts new, transfer, and returning students on a rolling basis. UMass Lowell first gained regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 1975.
Central Michigan University
|Mount Pleasant, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
CMU — based in Mount Pleasant — enrolls more than 23,000 students each year. More than a third of the student body are distance learners. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university offers over 200 undergraduate and 70 graduate programs. Students can take courses in eight-, 12-, or 16-week formats. CMU has hosted programming that caters to the needs of nontraditional students since 1971.
Students can complete the school's 124-credit BS in political science online. Learners explore politics at the local, national, and international levels through comprehensive study of American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory. Students gain a broad skill set for work in a variety of fields, including government, law, business, research, and education.
Participants complete 33 major-related credits and can add a certificate in citizen engagement, political advocacy and elections, or lawmaking and legal processes. Learners who choose a general track choose five electives in the areas of political science or public administration. Through this online political science degree, students develop competencies in effective communication, reasoning, and problem-solving. Learners study topics such as foreign policy, cultural diversity, legislation, budgeting, and data analysis.
Core courses introduce students to the subfields of political science and the empirical methods of political research. Topics within this research class include the scientific method, descriptive and inferential statistics, data collection, and research reporting.
CMU features a generous transfer policy, allowing students to transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. However, all students must complete their final 30 credits at CMU.
University of West Georgia
|Carrollton, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Established in 1906 by the Perry Act as the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School, UWG — in Carrollton, Georgia — now offers over 85 degree programs through seven colleges. This doctoral-granting university serves nearly 14,000 students.
UWG offers a diverse selection of online and hybrid programs, along with fully online eCore courses. These allow first- and second-year students to complete general education requirements locally, providing students with increased flexibility and affordability by eliminating campus-based fees and instituting a per-credit tuition rate that is the same for all online learners.
Social science students can complete the school's 124-credit BS in political science entirely online. The 33-credit major curriculum begins with one course from four main areas of political science: American government, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Students then select six additional courses from a variety of fields, including political science, public administration, policy analysis, data analytics, and law. Students also take a capstone seminar in their senior year.
UWG accepts up to 90 transferable credits from regionally accredited institutions. The university also awards up to 30 credits based on exams, such as from Advanced Placement tests. Full-time students with no transferable credits can complete their program in four years. UWG admits students in the fall, spring, and summer terms. The university first obtained regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1936.
Southeast Missouri State University
|Cape Girardeau, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Located in Cape Girardeau, SEMO offers more than 200 areas of study to over 11,000 students. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, SEMO administers about 1,300 courses each semester. The public university offers more than 30 bachelor's and master's degrees, plus certificates in education and healthcare.
The school's fully online BA in social science (BASS) helps students develop interdisciplinary professional skills and prepare for diverse careers or graduate study. Learners choose a major and minor concentration from seven social science disciplines, including political science, anthropology, criminal justice, economics, history, psychology, and sociology.
Students pursuing a BA in social science with a concentration in political science take 13 major-related classes, including five in political science and two in a secondary area. They complete core courses that address concepts, problems, and research methods in social science. Students also select a statistics course focused on a particular area, such as statistical reasoning or elementary probability.
Political science topics examine the subfields of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy, and political theory. Students can also focus on areas such as government budgeting, constitutional law, public policy analysis, or the modern presidency.
Full-time learners can complete the 39-credit BASS curriculum in one year, including fall, spring, and summer terms. The university offers eight-week and 16-week classes in the fall and spring, along with four-, six-, and eight-week sessions during the summer.
Political science students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate from the BASS program. SEMO offers experiential learning to all students, with 90% of learners participating in a local internship, clinical experience, student teaching, or study abroad program.
University of Missouri - St. Louis
|St. Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
With nearly 17,000 students, UMSL boasts the largest college enrollment in eastern Missouri. Students come from 44 states and 100 countries, and many of these learners access the public research university's degrees and certificate programs online. The Higher Learning Commission recently reaffirmed USML's regional accreditation status through the 2028-29 academic year.
The school's online BA in political science emphasizes research and using scientific-based inquiry to analyze and solve problems in politics. The 120-credit program requires students to complete 36-45 credits of political science work, including courses in political analysis and American, comparative, and world politics. All students also take a senior seminar.
Introductory coursework provides a substantial foundation for advanced learning. To ensure breadth of study, students must take at least one course in four of seven political science areas: American politics, public law, public policy and administration, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, and methodology.
USML also offers five specialized tracks to help students focus their curriculum on their academic or career goals. In addition to a graduate school preparation track, students pursuing this online political science degree can complete tracks in legal studies, American politics, public policy and administration, or international and comparative studies. Each track requires students to take five courses for 15 credits.
Learners pursuing this online bachelor's degree in political science learn about political power, politics of conflict, and what it takes to cooperate in society — both within and outside of government. Students study concepts such as cause-and-effect relationships, marshaling evidence, and drawing conclusions from quantitative and qualitative data.
University of Texas of the Permian Basin
|Odessa, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
Founded in 1969 in Odessa, UTPB serves nearly 8,000 students through five colleges and schools. This public university delivers over 50 undergraduate and graduate programs, with more than half of its options available online. UTPB's online division also offers certificates and endorsements for teachers.
The school's 120-credit bachelor of arts in political science requires students to complete 36 credits in the major. The fully online program focuses on American government, but faculty encourage students to take electives offering a global perspective. Learners gain an understanding of political systems, how governments operate, and how to use research methods and analysis to tackle social and political issues.
Required courses cover U.S. national politics, state and local politics, research methods, and statistics. Students round out their curriculum with classes from seven areas of political science: congressional politics, presidential politics, political theory, comparative politics, judicial politics, international relations, and the American West. Political science majors must also take 18 credits to earn a minor in communication, psychology, or sociology.
Online courses last seven weeks, and UTPB offers six start dates each year in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Depending on how many credits a student transfers in and their course load, online learners can earn this online bachelor's degree in political science in as few as 12 months.
UTPB does not limit the amount of credits a student can transfer into a program; however, students must complete at least 30 upper-level credits as a UTPB student. For online learning, the university charges the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of a student's state of residency.
Indiana University East
|Richmond, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
IU East serves an estimated 4,000 students at its main campus in Richmond and administers programs in 50 areas of study across seven schools. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, IU East also offers online learning for students who require a more flexible learning format. The university offers degree completion programs and certificates in areas such as applied health science, business administration, informatics, and political science.
The school's online BS in political science allows students to complete their bachelor's degree from a distance. To apply to this two-year program, students should hold an associate degree or bring in at least 60 applicable transfer credits. Full-time students can complete the remaining program requirements in four semesters, and learners can start in either the spring or fall.
Participants study the government and political process, along with broader issues such as power, conflict, peace, and representation. Students learn to think critically about social and political issues, including those related to public policies, communities, and constitutional law.
Upon program completion, students should possess strong research, analytical, and communication skills. Advisers work with each student to create an individual plan of study. Courses tackle topics like urban politics, contemporary revolutions, political philosophy, women and politics, and democracies.
In total, participants in this fully online program complete 36 credits of major-related courses, plus a senior seminar where they present research to their peers. Students must complete at least 15 credits while in residence at IU East. For all major courses, students must earn a "C" or better.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Based in Manchester, SHNU caters to online learners — nearly 97% of the school's 93,000 students attend as distance learners. Founded in 1932, SNHU holds regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and hosts associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programming. The private university offers over 200 programs of study, including 150 undergraduate degrees.
The 120-credit bachelor of arts in political science at SHNU takes a pragmatic approach to government and politics, unpacking current events in real time and challenging students to find solutions at the local, national, and international levels. Learners explore contemporary and historical political issues, along with the tactics and strategies used throughout the political arena.
While completing this fully online political science degree, students develop a multidimensional perspective on political systems, processes, and institutions. They learn to apply social scientific reasoning, analyze statistical research, and communicate effectively.
Students complete a total of 33 major-related credits, which culminate with a capstone experience that synthesizes classroom knowledge and skills. Course topics include American politics, the U.S. legal system, comparative politics, political theory, and public administration. Learners take four additional elective courses related to the discipline.
SNHU oversees a transfer-friendly program that allows students to apply up to 90 credits toward a bachelor's degree. However, the university requires students to complete at least 30 credits at SNHU.
University of Hawaii - West O'Ahu
|Kapolei, HI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
UH West O'ahu — located in Kapolei — serves more than 3,000 undergraduates and operates as one of 10 campuses in the University of Hawai'i System. This public university offers bachelor's degrees and certificates in many areas, including business administration, education, the humanities, applied science, public administration, and social sciences.
The school's BA in social sciences (BASS) with a concentration in political science draws on various social science disciplines to help students develop well-rounded perspectives on the world and their place within it. This program promotes a big-picture view and explores external factors like the global economy, technology, and the environment.
The program aims to help students understand the rapidly changing world and use that knowledge to become active participants in public life through civic engagement. Students learn many widely applicable skills, including the ability to think critically, solve problems, and communicate well.
The BASS curriculum includes six courses (18 credits) in political science. Required classes include political philosophy and American politics. For elective work, students can choose to focus on a diverse mix of topics, including global issues, constitutional law, and identity politics. Learners must also take three courses in a complementary social science; options include anthropology, economics, psychology, sociology, or early childhood education.
UH West O'ahu delivers its BASS program through hybrid learning, which combines in-person teaching and online courses. However, students with an associate degree — or those who have already earned all of their lower-division course credits — can complete the program entirely online. The university accepts transferable credits from courses completed at regionally accredited schools with a "D" or better. UH West O'ahu holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Launched in 1998, Penn State World Campus offers more than 150 accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, certificates, and minors to online learners from all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
The school's 123-credit BA in political science requires students to take 36 credits of major-related classes, including 15 credits at the 400 level. Through this program, students develop analytical reasoning and critical-thinking skills, which they can apply to a variety of career paths or continued study.
Learners can craft their curriculum to gain specialized or general knowledge of domestic politics, world politics, and political theory. Learners take on research-based writing projects once they begin the upper-division core. Course topics include American foreign policy, international relations theory, and Congress and the presidency.
Students gain substantive expertise in one or more areas of political science. Penn State World Campus delivers all courses online, and most instructors allow for asynchronous participation.
Credits for this online political science degree break down into four parts: 36 for the major, 24 for the BA, 45 for general education, and 18 for electives. Within the major, students take nine credits in supporting and related courses, which they choose in consultation with an academic adviser. These courses explore other social sciences (e.g., economics and law) and how they can help students better understand political science.
Students pursuing a BA in political science can start in the fall or spring. Penn State holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|Parkville, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Park University — based in Parkville, Missouri — oversees a student body of more than 16,000 learners. The university holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. In addition to its flagship location, this private school oversees a campus in Gilbert, Arizona, and 41 campus centers across the country. Students at Park can take many classes online.
Individuals pursuing Park's hybrid bachelor of arts in political science must visit the school's main campus to complete many face-to-face classes. However, some courses are available online. Learners take general education classes, including a professional writing course and social science and humanities electives. Major-related requirements include history of political philosophy, comparative political systems, and international relations. Students can choose to pursue a concentration in either American politics or international politics.
Learners also complete a senior thesis and an internship experience, developing important research skills and applying classroom knowledge to practical situations. To round out their studies, participants take 18-21 credits to complete a minor that complements their political science major. Graduates prepare to work as political consultants, teachers, public relations specialists, and legislative assistants. Some students also elect to continue their education and pursue a graduate degree.
First-year applicants who hold a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for admission, no matter their standardized test scores. Students with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.99 must be in the upper 50% of their high school class or hold a minimum ACT score of 20 or a minimum SAT score of 1020 (on the evidence-based reading/writing and math portions) to gain admission.
WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE PROGRAM?
A political science degree online is for students interested in politics and political theory. Political science graduates find careers in government, law, business, advocacy groups, teaching, and journalism. An online political science degree covers a broad range of topics.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
|American politics||This concentration focuses on analyzing and understanding the American political system using historical and contemporary case studies. The concentration typically looks at institutions, politicians, the public, law, the media, and diversity to try to understand how the political system has evolved and how to create change.||Governmental positions (local, state, and federal level), lawyer, advocate in the nonprofit field, lobbyist|
|Comparative/international politics||This concentration is similar to the American politics concentration but is expanded to analyze and compare politics at a global level. More focus is given to understanding and resolving conflict. A comparative politics concentration also spends time looking at why politics differ from country to country.||Governmental positions, international business, international legal positions, NGOs|
|Political theory||A political theory concentration (sometimes called political philosophy) focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of the political and legal system. Courses explore philosophical questions about the meaning of justice, the social order, and authority. Students who want a theoretical understanding of politics should consider this concentration.||Teaching, law, governmental positions|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
Political science degree online schools offer a range of courses that can vary between schools. Some sample online political science courses are listed below.
- The American political system: This course introduces students to how the American political system has worked historically and how it functions today. It also gives an overview of the field. Topics covered include institutional foundations of U.S. politics and activities of politicians, citizens, and organizations. This introductory course is helpful for students interested in any career dealing with politics or the government.
- Constitutional law: This course looks at constitutional law in the United States from a contemporary and historical point of view. The intentions of the founding fathers are considered while the role of the Supreme Court and changes in society over time are also examined. The three branches of government and their separate roles are discussed. Future lawyers and government workers benefit from this course.
- Political protest: This course examines the role of protest in either American or global politics. Topics include protesters, protest strategies, and response to protest from the government, the public, and the media. Students also analyze the way that protests and governmental responses to protest change depending on type of government and epoch. This course develops necessary skills for students interested in pursuing careers in advocacy and nonprofit groups.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE?
Factors affecting program length include the number of courses available each term, if a student attends classes full-time or part-time, and the number of transfer credits a student has when beginning the program.
Some programs give students the choice to go at their own pace, while others adopt a cohort learning approach. In cohort programs, students progress through the program together, taking the same courses each term. The cohort approach fosters a community of learners who support each other. Students who go at their own pace may have more flexibility in how many courses they take and when they take them. On average, it takes two-and-a-half to four years to complete a political science degree online.
Accreditation for Online Political Science Degrees
When looking at political science degree online schools, it's important to make sure the school chosen is accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process in which a school is evaluated to make sure it meets minimum educational standards.
There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation agencies concentrate on specific geographic regions of the country. National accreditation agencies can accredit schools in any part of the country and typically work with for-profit and faith-based schools. Regional accreditation is more widely recognized, and regionally accredited institutions tend to accept transfer credits. By choosing an accredited school, students can be assured they will get a quality education. Many political science online degrees at the bachelor's level are not accredited separately from the school.
Two organizations play important roles in accreditation: the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Department of Education (DOE) is a U.S. government agency that establishes policy and coordinates federal assistance, including student loans and grants. The DOE publishes a list of nationally recognized accreditors that students can trust. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is an organization of degree-granting American colleges and universities. Its purpose is to coordinate the accreditation process for higher education in the United States by ensuring the quality of accrediting agencies. For a list of all accredited schools, visit the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
JOB PLACEMENT: BACHELOR'S IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
The political science field is relatively small, and little to no job growth is projected in the coming years. Thankfully, this is not the only career option for those who earn a bachelor’s in political science; graduates ― particularly those with good grades and solid recommendations ― are well-positioned to compete for jobs in business, creative media, and social services.
Unemployment rates for political science graduates will vary by their specific job title. Using data from U.S. News & World Report, the table below looks at the current employment rates for some of the most common jobs among political science bachelor's recipients. Comparatively, the average unemployment rate for all occupations nationwide currently sits at 4.5%.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2017)|
|Public Relations Specialist||1.1%|
|Market Research Analyst||3.1%|
|Interpreter and Translator||4.0%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
EARNING A LIVING
Like unemployment rates and projected job outlook, the earning potential for those with a bachelor's in political science will often boil down to their experience level and current title, as well as the size of their employer and their city/state of employment. The table below features 20-year salary growth projections for five of common careers among those who have earned a bachelor's in political science.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Public Relations Specialist||$41,877||$54,057||$60,563||$60,173|
|Public Relations Manager||$51,770||$67,115||$74,905||$75,446|
|Human Resources Specialist||$44,951||$50,430||$54,645||$61,124|
All five occupations experience salary growth of at least 36% after 20 years on the job. PR managers reported the highest growth rate: a 45.7% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Campaign managers ranked closely at second with 45.6% career salary growth, followed by PR specialists with 43.7% salary growth.
Those who earn a bachelor's in political science will be qualified for dozens of jobs in a wide range of industries, although individual eligibility may depend on their chosen concentration. Four popular career pathways in political science are outlined below.
Public Relations Specialists: Public relations specialists (also known as PR specialists) create a positive image for individuals and organizations in order to generate public interest. Their day-to-day duties include writing press releases, scheduling public appearances, coordinating interviews with journalists, and engaging in social media marketing on behalf of their clients.
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: PR and fundraising managers design the materials used to promote and raise money for individuals, organizations, and social causes. PR and fundraising both play an important role in modern politics, and these managers often find work with elected officials, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers: These managers develop and coordinate programs designed to generate public buzz about a person, place, or product. Those with a background in political science are well-suited for the data analysis, demographic research, community outreach, and communication that this job entails.
Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists are responsible for recruiting new employees, screening job applicants, conducting interviews, and providing orientation programs for workers when they begin work. The BLS notes that 14% of HR specialists are work for local, state, or federal government employers.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Public Relations Specialists||$56,770||6% (+14,900 jobs)|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$104,140||7% (+4,700 jobs)|
|Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers||$127,560||9% (+19,700 jobs)|
|Human Resources Specialists||$59,180||5% (+22,000 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to political science is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for political science professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- American Political Science Association: Founded in 1903, the APSA today represents more than 13,000 members in 80 different countries. The association published four different peer-reviewed journals and hosts a handful of events, including an annual exhibition in a different major city each year.
- International Political Science Association: UNESCO established IPSA in 1949 to “support the development of political science in all parts of the world, building academic networks linking East and West, North and South”. Membership is offered at individual, institutional, and collective rates.
- International Association for Political Science Students: The IAPSS represents more than 1,000 students worldwide and publishes two peer-reviewed journals. Membership benefits include voting rights in general assembly meetings held each year, an invitation to join different committees, and complimentary magazine and journal subscriptions.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Political Science
Despite the relative affordability of online bachelor's programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.
Finance — the study of money and asset management — is one of the most popular degree concentrations for MBA students. Learn about the best schools for this area of study with our comprehensive degree guide.
Another popular specialization field for MBA students, human resources (or HR) focuses on hiring, new employee orientation and other administrative needs. Visit our guide to master's degrees in HR for more information.
Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.
Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.