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An online bachelor’s in political science program prepares students for law, teaching, journalism, campaign management, government, and foreign service careers. Students learn many applicable skills for landing positions with competitive salaries. Public relations managers earn a median annual salary of $119,860, while the median annual salary for market research analysts is $63,920. Students can also go on to earn a master’s in political science, which will qualify them for additional jobs.

Bachelor’s degrees typically require 120 credit hours, which translates to four years of full-time study. The cost of this degree varies based on the school the student attends.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition at a four-year public institution was $7,869 in the 2021-22 academic year. At private institutions, undergraduate tuition averaged $$37,095.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Program

Choose an area of study

Because an online bachelor’s in political science degree is the foundation for many different career paths, students must clarify their career goals before choosing an area of study. Common concentrations in political science include:

  • Pre-law
  • Politics
  • Journalism
  • Public Relations
  • Analysis

Once students know their concentration, they can determine if a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) will help them reach their goals. Bachelor of Arts degrees offer a broad-based liberal arts foundation. Bachelor of Science degrees have a more technical basis, focusing on research.

Research schools and programs

A good place to start with your research is confirming that the schools and programs you’re exploring are accredited. This will ensure that the school and its programs have undergone an extensive review by a third-party agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education. A school’s accreditation status can affect a student’s financial aid eligibility, post-graduation employment options, and other institutions they can attend for further study.

During the research phase, students should seek out answers to the following questions to help them evaluate programs:

  • What are the faculty’s credentials?
  • What are the school’s graduation and job placement rates?
  • What support services does the school offer to online students?
  • Are there networking opportunities for online students?
  • What does the program curriculum include?

Students can visit a program’s website, take virtual campus tours, follow them on social media, and reach out to representatives online to learn whether a school meets their needs.

Prepare for tests and applications

While researching online, contact the admissions department and speak with a counselor about what they require in their college application. Each school may request different items.

However, in general, students will have to submit the following when applying to an online bachelor’s in political science program:

  • Application (check if the school accepts the Common Application)
  • Official transcripts from previous education
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Resume

One example is the college entrance exam. Some universities require students to submit scores for the SAT or ACT, although these tests are becoming increasingly optional.

Select your program

Students should select a program that fits within their budget, has a program format that meets their needs, offers student support to help them succeed, and offers curricula that match their career path.

One thing students should keep in mind when selecting programs to apply to is that most schools charge application fees, which can add up quickly. To help stay within budget, students can request an application fee waiver from the school’s admissions or financial aid office.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

A university’s financial aid department can answer questions regarding how to pay for an online bachelor’s in political science program.

The first step students should take is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Schools use the information collected by this form to determine eligibility for student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study funding.

Whenever possible, students should use gift aid, like scholarships and grants that don’t require repayment, before borrowing student loans. Students who are borrowing money should research the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized direct federal loans.

Students working full-time may want to see if their company provides employee tuition assistance.

Best 50 Accredited Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Political Science Programs Badge

University of Central Florida

Florida International University

Arizona State University

Penn State World Campus

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Texas Tech University

Fort Hays State University

Oregon State University

Southern New Hampshire University

University of Iowa

The University of Texas

University of North Georgia

University of Maryland Global Campus

Arkansas State University

Southern Utah University

University of Alaska

University of North Alabama

Northeastern University

Columbia College

Arkansas Tech University

Indiana University

University of Wisconsin

Keiser University

Kennesaw State University

University of Illinois Springfield

Washington University in St. Louis

Eastern Kentucky University

Washington State University

Johnson & Wales University

Old Dominion University

University of Arizona

Central Michigan University

Sam Houston State University

Liberty University

Wilmington University

Indiana University East

National University

University of Maine

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Northern Illinois University

University of Louisville

UMass Dartmouth

University of Hawai'i at Manoa

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Grand View University

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best online bachelor’s in political science degree programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online bachelor’s in political science degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Program?

An online bachelor’s in political science program involves completing 120 credit hours of core curriculum and electives. Students must also complete a capstone project, including research, writing a final paper, or participating in an internship.

Full-time students in an accelerated program may finish in two to three years, while those not in an accelerated program may need four years. Part-time students often need five to six years to complete the degree program. Asynchronous programs make it easier for online students to move through the courses quicker. Asynchronous refers to a pre-recorded curriculum so students can finish classes faster than a synchronous, or real-time, program.

The curriculum for online and on-campus programs is usually the same. Students will study topics like the following:

  • International relations
  • Public laws and policies
  • Government and politics
  • Public administration

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in political science degree program

  • Political Science 101. This introductory course provides students with a foundation in political science theories. Students learn how political science applies to America and internationally, politics and government, and the law.
  • American Government. Students learn how the theories of political science impact the government. Topics in the class focus on current events, government structure, and the process of making policies. Students review and analyze real-life scenarios.
  • Comparative Politics. Students learn how the American government differs from that of other countries. They examine and compare current politics, cultures, elections, and policies.
  • Policy Making. Students learn policy-making steps, including who makes policies, the reasons behind policies, and how policies may not benefit everyone in America.
  • The Law. Students learn the American legal system, the branches of government, the role of the courts, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a comparison to international laws. They also study the Amendments and how politics and the law impact religion, minority groups, various cultures, and even the President.

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

An online bachelor’s degree in political science provides a solid foundation for the additional study that is required for most political scientist jobs. Depending on their specific interests, students may also pursue graduate degrees in public administration or public policy.

Individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in political science are typically qualified for entry-level positions such as research assistants, political campaign workers, or government support staff. Because of the emphasis on research and analysis, political science graduates may also go on to work in the private sector as market researchers or budget analysts.

The majority of political science graduates work for the federal government, although they’re also found in civic and grantmaking organizations, educational services, and state and local governments.

Career outlook

  • Market research analysts — Help a company promote its products or services by gathering and analyzing data on consumer buying habits, demographics, needs, and preferences. They collect data using various methods, such as focus groups, interviews, literature reviews, market analysis surveys, public opinion polls, and questionnaires.
    • Median annual salary: $74,680
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 13%
    • New jobs projected: 94,600 per year
  • Survey researchers — Design surveys to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires and provide analysis of results.
    • Median annual salary: $60,960
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): -4%
    • New jobs projected: 700 per year
  • Political scientists — Study the origin, development, and operation of political systems, research political ideas, and analyze governments, policies, political trends, and related issues.
    • Median annual salary: $132,350
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New jobs projected: 600 per year

Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor's in political science degree program?

To confirm the steps in the application process, contact the school’s admissions office, as the process likely varies between schools. If a college requires an entrance exam like the SAT or ACT, students must plan to take it early enough to meet the deadline for submitting their application.

Universities cannot offer acceptance to students who do not submit all application materials, which generally include:

  • Complete application and fees
  • Standardized test scores
  • Official transcripts from previous education
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay

How much does an online bachelor's in political science degree program cost?

This will depend on a few factors unique to each person, as well as differences in how universities set tuition rates. Public universities tend to have lower tuition rates than private institutions. However, public schools may charge higher tuition rates for out-of-state students.

Other factors that will influence the annual and total cost of a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Part-time vs. full-time status
  • Additional university fees
  • Scholarships and grants awarded to the student
  • Employment status while enrolled
  • Military and other tuition discounts

Students enrolled in online programs can save money by not having to pay for transportation, childcare, or on-campus activities fees.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor's in political science program?

The time it takes a student to complete an online bachelor’s in political science program can depend on how quickly they can complete the program’s credit hours. Full-time students typically need four to five years to finish all requirements, while part-time students need five to six years. Students in an accelerated program can complete in two to three years.

A program with an asynchronous format makes it easier for students to complete their degree in less time. Finally, personal issues, like family emergencies, may cause a student to put school on hold, affecting the time it takes to complete.

Is an online bachelor's in political science worth it?

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in political science should be aware that most political science and related positions require, at minimum, a master’s degree. A bachelor’s in political science provides an ideal foundation for an advanced degree in this field, but on its own, may not qualify graduates for a broad range of positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who have a bachelor’s degree earn $501 more per week than their counterparts with no college degree, translating to over $26,000 more per year. For students who earn a master’s and become political scientists, the median annual wage is $132,350, which is nearly triple the overall median wage of $48,060.

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