Best Online Political Science Programs of 2021

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Published on September 24, 2021

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In online bachelor's in political science programs, students gain foundational knowledge in areas like political theory, American politics, and political economy. Political science majors develop practical research, writing, and critical thinking skills throughout their program, preparing them for diverse careers and academic opportunities.

Political science graduates can enter various careers both within and beyond the political realm, working in business, nonprofit, and civil service positions. Earning a bachelor's in political science is also an excellent choice for degree-seekers who plan to pursue careers in government and public policy.

The following page explores the ins and outs of undergraduate political science degrees. In addition to covering what students can expect in the classroom, this guide examines application requirements, career prospects for political science graduates, and the elements that make up a quality online program.

Read on to learn more about what a bachelor's in political science can offer.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Political Science Program?

Online bachelor's in political science students typically complete 120 credits before graduating. In addition to general education requirements, learners take classes in political theory, comparative politics, and American government. Throughout these programs, degree-seekers also hone communication, analytical, and critical thinking skills that prepare them for a variety of careers.

Political science majors can often choose between earning a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. Students choosing the latter option supplement core requirements with more math and science courses, while those pursuing a BA typically complete additional humanities and foreign language requirements. Possible concentrations or focuses in political science programs include political theory, international relations, and comparative politics.

Online students may complete coursework asynchronously or synchronously. Asynchronous programs provide learners with more flexibility by eliminating scheduled class times. These programs use online discussion boards and collaborative projects to ensure that distance learners can still connect with their peers and professors.

Read on to learn about classes students often encounter while earning an online bachelor's in political science.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Political Science Program?

Introduction to Comparative Politics

This introductory course covers the challenges and opportunities inherent to democratic forms of government, the persistence of non-democratic regimes, and political development in countries around the globe. Students focus on the political institutions and processes in industrialized democracies, developing nations, and post-communist regimes.

Introduction to Political Theory

In this course, students grapple with the complex relationship between citizenship, freedom, and economics, delving into the enduring ideas behind Western political thought. Channeling these intellectual challenges through thinkers like Aristotle, Locke, and Marx, students explore the how and why of the political and social experience.

Introduction to International Relations

Introducing learners to actors in global politics, this course explores the interactions and relationships between various countries. To gain an understanding of contemporary global politics, students also explore the historical intricacies and development of institutions like the United Nations and European Union.

American Politics

In this course, students explore the political behaviors of citizens, activists, legislators, and politicians throughout United States history. This course covers essential topics like the presidency, civil rights, and the Constitution.

International Political Economy

Examining the issues, history, and theories within the international political economy, this course explores the behaviors, consequences, and political interactions resulting from the pursuit of wealth. Covered topics often include international trade, international economic systems, and the influence of multinational corporations.

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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Political Science Program?

Completing a thorough college application is a critical step in the admissions process. A thoughtful application gives prospective students the chance to highlight both their academic performance and the personal attributes that make them unique. Read on to learn more about standard admission requirements.

Application

All programs require an application. Some schools accept the Common App, which allows students to apply to multiple colleges at once. Applications vary from school to school. Some require an application fee, while others do not.

Test Scores

While college entrance exams generally aren't as important as they used to be, many schools still use standardized test scores as a barometer for academic success. Many schools require prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation can play a significant role in the admissions process. Metrics like GPA and standardized test scores only tell part of each applicant's story. Glowing letters of recommendation often highlight personal and intangible attributes that make prospective students unique.

Essays

Personal essays are another way prospective students can stand out from the crowd of applicants. Essays can showcase an applicant's maturity, thoughtfulness, and writing ability. Many college essays are 500-800 words in length.

Official Transcripts

While official high school transcripts verify academic performance, critically reviewing transcripts can reveal a student's ambition, breadth of academic interests, and willingness to tackle challenging topics. Schools also use academic transcripts to determine potential transfer credits.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Political Science Degree?

Career Outlook

Political science graduates begin their careers armed with marketable research, writing, and analytical skills. As a result, these graduates can find work in various public, private, and nonprofit settings.

Individual career decisions influence the professional outlook for graduates with a bachelor's in political science. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% job growth for high school teachers between 2020 and 2030. During the same period, the BLS projects 18% job growth for market research analysts will grow by 22%. Conversely, students pursuing journalism careers enter a competitive trade with lower projected growth rates.

See where an online bachelor's in political science can take you. Learn more about political science careers.

Career Paths

High School Teacher

Teachers create academic lessons while teaching students the necessary knowledge to begin their professional or college careers. Often teaching classes focusing on topics like American government and civics, these professionals also help students develop research and writing skills. To work in public schools, educators must complete an approved teacher preparation program and earn state licensure.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870 (May 2020)

Journalist

Whether working for newspapers, digital media, or television, political journalists often have a background in political science. These professionals investigate news stories, conduct research for assigned stories, and use contacts to conduct interviews. Some journalists enter the field immediately after earning their bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $49,300 (May 2020)

Market Research Analyst

Using research and critical thinking skills, these analysts study market conditions and their impact on the sale of goods and services. These professionals analyze the effectiveness of marketing strategies while dealing with complex data.

Median Annual Salary: $65,810 (May 2020)

Legislative Aide

Providing various support services to elected officials, legislative aides often coordinate meetings, write speeches, and summarize legal research. These professionals also monitor legislative developments, meet with constituents, and research potential legislation.

Average Annual Salary: $45,790 (September 2021)

Government Affairs Director

Laws and regulations can significantly affect a company's bottom line, and government affairs directors help them manage legal changes. Additionally, these professionals implement policy strategies, manage relationships with legislators, and help shape public relations strategies.

Average Annual Salary: $98,800 (September 2021)

Political Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Graduates with a bachelor's in political science often pursue a graduate-level education. An advanced degree often leads to expanded career options, greater expertise, and increased earning potential.

In addition to on-campus continuing education options, online degrees abound. Students interested in a political science master's degree can choose from several online options. Political science graduates also enroll in MBA programs, JD programs, and Ph.D. programs in education and public administration.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Political Science Program?

Cost

The cost of an online bachelor's in political science can vary significantly between schools. This disparity is especially noticeable when considering the tuition rates between public and private institutions.

Program Format

A program's format can also influence whether or not a particular school is an appropriate choice. For working students who need flexibility, asynchronous coursework allows them to complete course requirements largely at their own pace while managing personal and professional obligations. Additionally, students who want to complete their degrees quickly can look for accelerated programs.

Location

One of the primary benefits of online degrees is that students can complete coursework from any location. Still, prospective learners should ask about potential on-campus or in-person requirements so that they can plan ahead. Additionally, many public institutions offer reduced tuition to in-state students.

Accreditation

When considering bachelor's in political science programs, a college's accreditation should play a major role. The best schools hold regional accreditation and meet rigorous standards for academics, financial aid, and student services.

Student Support

Access to student support services can also determine if a school is a good choice. Services like academic advising, mental health support, mentorship opportunities, and tutoring can significantly impact students' academic success. Additionally, career services and internship opportunities often help positively shape a graduate's job prospects.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Political Science Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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University of Central Florida true View School Profile Orlando, FL

Based in Orlando, UCF offers an online bachelor's in political science that does not have any on-campus requirements. The program emphasizes critical thinking and analytical skills alongside foundational political science knowledge.

Students can choose between three concentrations: American politics and policy, international relations-comparative politics, and pre-law. Courses include the American presidency, politics of the European Union, and contemporary democratic theory. All students must complete 120 credits before graduating with their BA. Resources for online students include a writing center, online access to the UCF library, and academic coaching.

UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida International University true View School Profile Miami, FL

FIU offers a flexible online bachelor's in political science that students can complete without ever visiting campus in Miami. FIU's online platform allows students to collaborate with peers, watch interactive lectures, and communicate regularly with instructors. Distance learners also gain access to a personal academic coach who offers support throughout their studies.

Online learners tackle core coursework in American politics, political theory, and comparative politics. Students must complete 120 credits before graduation, with 39 dedicated to political science classes.

First-year applicants must complete an online application and submit official high school transcripts and standardized test scores. As of fall 2021, in-state learners pay $229 per credit, while out-of-state tuition costs $346 per credit.

FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus true View School Profile University Park, PA

Penn State World Campus offers a flexible online political science degree that helps students develop critical thinking, analytical, research, and writing skills. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously, allowing online students to learn through a mix of self-study and peer-to-peer interactions.

Required political science classes include introduction to American national government, contemporary political ideologies, and introduction to political research. Degree-seekers also select nine credits of supplementary courses in areas like history, economics, and sociology. Online learners gain access to an online research library, career counseling, and 24/7 technical support.

Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma. Prospective students must complete an online application and submit official high school and college transcripts. As of fall 2021, both resident and nonresident online learners pay $590-$632 per credit.

Penn State World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick true View School Profile New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers's online bachelor's in political science covers various practical and philosophical problems associated with governance and political activities. Along with gaining extensive political science knowledge, learners develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

The program's curriculum covers three general areas: American politics and institutions, international politics, and theoretical approaches to politics. Core courses include the nature of politics, introduction to international relations, and comparative politics.

First-year applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma. They should submit an essay; academic transcripts; and a current resume outlining extracurricular activities, community service, and past employment.

Rutgers is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Arizona State University-Skysong true View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

ASU offers a 120-credit bachelor's in political science that full-time learners can complete in about four years. Online students complete most coursework asynchronously and gain access to 24/7 counseling, time management coaching, and various student wellness support services.

Students can choose between earning a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science. BS degree-seekers tackle a curriculum emphasizing science and statistics, while the BA track includes a foreign language component. Core courses cover political ideologies, empirical political inquiry, and American government and politics.

First-year applicants must be in the top 25% of their graduating high school class. Along with a completed application, prospective students must also submit ACT or SAT scores.

ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Oregon State University View School Profile Corvallis, OR

Oregon State offers a flexible online bachelor's in political science. The program offers four different start dates each year. Students complete most coursework asynchronously and gain access to resources like success coaching, free online tutoring, and digital library services.

Learning from experienced instructors, students take core courses in areas like environmental policy and politics. All learners must complete a minimum of 180 quarter credits. Additional courses cover constitutional law, current issues in rural policies, and global food politics and policy.

Online learners pay $331 per credit no matter where they live, as of fall 2021. Oregon State takes a holistic approach to the admissions process and considers grades, the rigor of coursework, and personal attributes. The university does not require standardized test scores for admission.

Oregon State is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

TTU's online bachelor's in political science program covers a variety of topics, including foreign and domestic policy, political theory, and Texas politics.

The 120-credit curriculum includes courses like comparative politics, introduction to political analysis, and environmental politics and policy. Additionally, students can take a career-focused class that explores the ways working professionals can use a political science degree.

Out-of-state online learners pay a tuition rate almost identical to Texas residents. TTU offers various support to active-duty military and veterans and was the first school in Texas to receive the Purple Heart University designation.

TTU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Illinois at Springfield View School Profile Springfield, IL

UIS offers an online bachelor's in political science that does not include on-campus requirements. The program includes both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Additionally, online learners can enroll in an integrated political science BA/MA program.

Through live lectures and collaborative, discussion-based work, students tackle courses like introduction to the American political system, introduction to political philosophy, and empirical political analysis. Before graduation, all political science majors complete an internship in the field.

Prospective students must complete an online application and submit official academic transcripts. UIS encourages applicants to submit a 500-750-word personal essay laying out their professional goals and academic interests.

UIS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Alabama View School Profile Florence, AL

UNA offers an online bachelor's in political science that prepares graduates for careers or graduate school. The program provides flexibility for working professionals by delivering all coursework asynchronously.

The 36-credit major curriculum includes coursework in United States government and politics, political science scope and research, and public policy and administration. Concentration options include international relations, political theory, and American politics.

To receive unconditional admission, prospective students must have a minimum 2.5 high school GPA and an ACT score above 18 or an SAT score above 960. Applicants must submit official transcripts from high school and all prior colleges.

UNA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

Distance learners attending Liberty can earn an online bachelor's in political science. This 120-credit degree takes full-time learners about 3.5 years to complete. Coursework is available entirely online, and faculty deliver courses through eight-week terms.

Students complete classes like American foreign policy and international relations, building their critical thinking and communication skills. Graduates can go on to pursue careers like policy analyst, legislative assistant, and campaign manager.

To qualify for admission, applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. They must also submit an application fee, academic transcripts, and proof of English proficiency. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits toward their degree.

Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Colleges.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Political Science Programs

Is a bachelor's in political science worth it? true

Earning an online bachelor's in political science can open up a variety of career and academic opportunities. This degree helps learners hone widely applicable research, writing, and critical thinking skills.

Additionally, online students can often manage personal and professional obligations while completing academic requirements, especially if they enroll in an asynchronous program.

What can I do with a bachelor's in political science? true

Students with a bachelor's in political science develop the tools needed to tackle various careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

While it may seem like a niche field for future academics and politicians, political science offers graduates the chance to pursue careers as market research analysts and high school teachers. Additionally, a bachelor's in political science is a strong choice for students planning on applying to law school.

Are political science majors in high demand? true

Political science graduates can enter a variety of careers, although demand varies by sector. The BLS projects 8% job growth for high school teachers and 11% job growth for public relations specialists between 2020 and 2030.

Graduate school is another viable option for political science graduates — gaining additional expertise and training can enhance career options and earning potential.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in political science?

How much money a political science graduate can make depends on their specific job and professional experience. For example, as of May 2020, high school teachers earned a median annual salary of $62,870.

As with most careers, gaining additional professional experience can lead to higher wages. Additionally, earning postgraduate certificates or a graduate degree can significantly increase earning potential. Political science majors who go on to earn a law degree can become lawyers, who earned a median salary of $126,930 per year, as of May 2020.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in political science?

In addition to earning an annual median salary of over $65,000, market research analysts also enter a field that the BLS projects to grow by 22% from 2020-2030. Additionally, according to PayScale data from September 2021, government affairs directors boast an average base salary of nearly $100,000 per year.

For individuals interested in maximizing their earning potential, graduate school may be a good idea. For example, political scientists, who generally need a master's or doctoral degree, earned a median annual salary exceeding $125,000 as of May 2020.

Compare the best online master's in political science programs to find a good match, and learn what it takes to earn a master's in political science online. Learn what it takes to earn a master's in political science, as well as what this degree can do for you after you graduate. We've ranked the best online master's in public policy and public affairs programs. Learn about courses, career opportunities, and earning potential.

BestColleges.com 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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