Why This Matters

  • PREPARE FOR CAREERS IN MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES

    Political scientists are most closely associated with local, state, and federal government jobs, but they can also use their skills in areas like law, academic, non-profits, research, and more.

  • POLITICAL SCIENTIST JOBS INCREASING BY 5%

    A continued demand for political scientists who can analyze policies, conduct research, and manage regulatory issues is expected to contribute to employment growth for this profession through 2028.

  • 1500 NEW COLLEGE PROFESSOR JOBS EXPECTED

    Employment of political science instructors in post-secondary settings is predicted to grow at a faster-than-average pace through the next decade. A master’s degree is typically needed for these roles.

Our Research

We conducted our research by focusing on master’s programs in political science. As a social science-related field, political science programs usually award graduate students a Master of Arts (MA).

In order to ensure accessibility, we looked at programs that are delivered online. Some programs are also available on-campus. Students may have the option of completing the degree through a combination of on-campus and online coursework.

All of the programs are offered by regionally accredited institutions. Regional accreditation signifies that the institution meets high standards of quality in postsecondary education. Credits and degrees from regionally accredited schools are generally more widely recognized by other institutions, as well as employers.

Once we found the programs that meet these criteria, we evaluated each of them on the basis of outcomes, cost, flexibility, faculty, and reputation. We assigned each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online master’s in political science are affordable, flexible, and well-respected. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 88 hours to write this article
  • 126 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 277 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Online Master’s in Political Science Programs

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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.

What’s Next?

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.