What You Should Know About This Degree
While a bachelor’s degree can qualify you for many entry-level political science jobs, a master’s degree or even a PhD is usually required for more advanced positions. Students may use their master’s degree as a stepping stone towards doctoral study. If you are considering continuing on to a doctoral program after you complete your master’s, you should consider completing a program with a thesis requirement, as many doctoral programs require students to have documented research experience as a condition for admission.
Political science is a relatively small field, with approximately 6,500 working professionals currently in the industry. Although the job outlook for political scientists is good for the next decade, because of the size of the industry, competition for jobs will remain stiff.
An advanced degree will make you a more attractive job candidate, as will strong research and writing skills, and hands-on experience. Even if you are completing an online degree, it is to your benefit to seek out experiential learning opportunities in the form of internships or volunteer work. When researching programs, find out if they offer any kind of hands-on learning opportunities, and plan your schedule and budget accordingly to accommodate those experiences.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Political Science programs:
- Is this program available to residents in my state? Although distance learning programs are widely accessible, there are regulations in place governing how schools provide online education, and to whom they can grant degrees. The National Council of State Authorization of Reciprocity Agreements is a good resource for learning more about whether an institution can grant a degree to someone in your home state.
- How are online courses delivered? An additional consideration for distance learning programs is whether courses are delivered synchronously or asynchronously. In synchronous courses, students attend classes remotely, but at set weekly times. In asynchronous courses, the lessons and assignments are accessible at all times, and students can complete them on their schedule. Review the program’s course delivery method to confirm that it will meet your scheduling needs.
Once you have identified the programs that interest you, research their application deadlines and requirements. This information is typically available on the program’s webpage; you can also contact the program directly if you have questions.
Funding your graduate education is another important consideration. Ask the schools you are applying to about scholarship and financial aid opportunities. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits.