Best Online Political Science Degree

by TBS Staff
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Political Science Degree Online

Online bachelor's degree programs in political science give students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Learners in these programs study political systems and behavior while strengthening critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills.

Graduates who earn a bachelor of political science online can work as policy analysts, political consultants, legislative assistants, and public relations specialists. Those who pursue a master's degree can become political scientists — a job with a median salary of over $122,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An online bachelor’s in political science degree provides a foundation for many careers, preparing graduates for jobs in policy development, lobbying, journalism, and education. This is good, because political science is a rapidly evolving discipline that mirrors the current political climate of the United States. Furthermore, renewed interest in the field means there may be more students considering degrees in political science. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2019 and 2029, political science positions will increase by 6%.

Featured Political Science Online Programs

Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Program

Depending on whether your degree is a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science, it’s likely that some of the requirements may be a bit different, both in the general education and major curriculum. Regardless of which degree type you are earning, there will be some similar elements between them.

Students earning a political science degree online can pursue an emphasis or a minor in areas such as history, journalism, communications, and economics. Courses within the major often emphasize areas like international relations, political theory, and the justice system. Graduation requirements will vary from school to school, and may include thesis projects, internships, or capstone courses. The important thing to remember is that these programs are often highly customizable, allowing students to choose courses and academic paths that best suit their needs and career goals.

Graduation requirements will vary from school to school, and may include thesis projects, internships, or capstone courses.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Program?

Online political science programs offer similar courses. The sample curriculum below will give you an idea of what subjects you can expect to encounter while pursuing this degree.

  • Political Theory: This course is generally offered at introductory and advanced levels in many online political science programs. It covers the foundations of political theory and offers practical applications in today’s political climate.
  • International Relations: Any student of political science will likely encounter at least one course in international relations. Courses in this area can cover many topics, such as how various foreign countries are governed, current U.S. policies regarding foreign relations, and various current issues and conflicts around the world.
  • The Legal Process in America: An online political science degree provides the skills for careers in many fields, including law. Many political science programs offer courses in American law and the legal process, detailing topics such as criminal justice and the various other policies and procedures.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Degrees

When looking into earning your political science degree online, one of the most important factors to consider is accreditation. When a program is accredited, it means an accrediting organization has verified the academic merit of the program. There are a few different types of accreditation to keep in mind. Colleges and universities are accredited either regionally or nationally. Regional accreditation is the more common and popular of the two types. Some regionally accredited programs will not accept credits from nationally accredited schools.

Some programs may also have program-specific accreditation. While institutional accreditation is adequate for things like federal student aid, program-specific accreditation is another way of ensuring the program you choose meets important field-related standards. Political science programs, for example, may be accredited by the American Political Science Association.

Online Bachelor's in Political Science Careers

Students in political science programs learn many skills, which prepare them for different careers. The jobs below are just a few examples of what graduates can pursue.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Median Salary: $51,740 Projected Job Growth: 10%

With the background in law provided by a political science online degree, graduates can work as paralegals or legal assistants. These professionals work alongside practicing lawyers to help maintain files, do research for cases, and even draft legal documents. They may work in private practices or within larger corporations.

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
Median Salary: $46,270 Projected Job Growth: -11%

An online political science degree provides preparation for careers in communication or journalism, particularly as news analysts or reporters. These professionals often report on politics on the local, national, and international levels.

High School Teachers
Median Salary: $61,660 Projected Job Growth: 4%

Many political science programs cover subjects in history and the social sciences, which help prepare graduates to become secondary school instructors. These teachers generally work in their area of interest, teaching students in grades 9–12. State licensure must be acquired prior to entering this field, which has additional requirements.

Political Science Professional Organizations

While pursuing a political science degree online, there are ways to stay connected with your field even without being on campus. Professional organizations generally provide members with several valuable and useful tools and services. Membership in career or field-specific professional organizations can help students find networking opportunities, continuing education and professional development programs, and conferences. The three organizations below are open to members studying and/or working in the field of political science.

American Political Science Association
In addition to supporting research and scholarship in the field, APSA also offers several events and conferences, as well as a members-only job board and professional development opportunities.
Southern Political Science Association
SPSA is primarily responsible for the publication of a scholarly journal, the Journal of Politics. Members receive access to the journal and the organization’s annual conference.
  • International Political Science Association
    The IPSA was founded in France. It promotes the field globally, emphasizing political research and scholarship around the world. It also holds World Congress events at various locations around the globe.
  • Best Online Bachelor's in Political Science Programs

    Florida International University true View School Profile $ Miami, FL 58% 34% 65% Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Despite offering only three classes during its first semester, FIU currently offers more than 1,000 online classes for more than 100 degree programs.

    FIU offers its bachelor of arts in political science as a fully online degree. Courses cover topics like the American government, international relations, and political theory.

    Students must complete 120 credits, including 39 passed with a 'C' grade or higher, to graduate.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. FIU waives the test score requirement for students capable of transferring at least 60 credits from another institution.

    University of Central Florida true View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Founded in 1963, UCF currently comprises 13 colleges and 220 degree programs, including 20 online bachelor's degrees.

    UCF's online bachelor of arts in political science degree completion program prepares students for careers as congressional office staffers, intelligence officers, paralegals, and more.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. While UCF does not require internships, they do assist with placement.

    Applicants to UCF's online programs should already have transferrable credits.

    Pennsylvania State University true View School Profile $$$$ University Park, PA 71% 48% 100% Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    Penn State first offered online courses in 1998, and now provides an online curriculum for more than 150 degree programs.

    Penn State's World Campus provides the opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts in political science in a fully online format. Courses focus on political theory, American politics, and international relations.

    To graduate, students must complete 123 credits. As a liberal arts degree, students participate in writing-centric courses.

    Applicants must submit transcripts.

    Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

    Founded in 1932, SNHU maintains a strong alumni network to help students find opportunities after graduation.

    SNHU's online, asynchronous bachelor of arts in political science program focuses on analyzing real-world events in the context of domestic and international policy and public perception. Courses last 8 weeks.

    To graduate, students must complete 120 credits. SNHU also provides experiential learning opportunities.

    Applicants may transfer up to 90 credits. SNHU does not require ACT/SAT scores or an application fee.

    Nicholls State University true View School Profile $$ Thibodaux, LA 45% 54% 49% Nicholls State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Founded in 1948, Nicholls remains the only university in southeast Louisiana's Bayou Region.

    An online bachelor of arts degree in political science from Nicholls offers preparation for law school or a career in politics. Courses last 8 weeks and students must complete 120 credits to graduate.

    First-year applicants must submit ACT/SAT scores and transcripts that show a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

    University of North Alabama View School Profile $$ Florence, AL 46% 58% 59% University of North Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Located near the Tennessee and Mississippi state lines, UNA offers affordable and flexible classes for a variety of degree programs.

    At UNA, students can earn either a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree in political science through fully online courses. Courses include world politics, public policy and administration, and comparative politics.

    To graduate, students must complete 6 required courses and 36 major credits, as well as general education courses.

    First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts that show a specific distribution of units, a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0, and ACT/SAT scores.

    Fort Hays State University View School Profile $$ Hays, KS 44% 39% 83% Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    FHSU's first students attended class in 1902 at the site of an abandoned infirmary at Fort Hays.

    FHSU offers online bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degrees in political science. Core courses for both degrees include political philosophy, research methods, and American government.

    Students must complete 22 credits through core courses and 12 credits through subfield courses. Graduation also requires the completion of an internship.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts showing a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.25, meet minimum ACT/SAT score requirements, or have graduated in the top third of their high school class. Adult learners must submit their high school diploma or GED scores.

    Arizona State University View School Profile $$ Scottsdale, AZ 14% 55% 97% Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    ASU boasts more than 500,000 alumni and over 20,000 new graduates each year.

    ASU's online bachelor of science in political science program prepares students for careers in politics, education, journalism, and more. Courses include political ideologies, political statistics, and comparative government.

    Students must earn 120 credits to graduate.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts that meet ASU's competency standards, with a 3.0 minimum GPA in specific courses. Students with lower GPAs may still qualify for admission with an appropriate ACT/SAT score or if they graduated in the top 25% of their class.

    Indiana University-East View School Profile $ Richmond, IN 41% 45% 78% Indiana University East is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Part of the Indiana University system, IUE offers more than 60 degree programs.

    IUE's online bachelor of science in political science degree includes courses like constitutional law, urban politics, and judicial politics.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, including at least 36 at the 300 level or above. Applicants must submit transcripts and may submit test scores if desired.

    Arkansas State University View School Profile $$ Jonesboro, AR 48% 51% 56% Arkansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Founded in 1909, A-State serves more than 14,000 students both online and on its sprawling 1,376-acre campus.

    A-State's bachelor of arts in political science program takes place in a fully online format. This degree requires courses such as European political systems, American political theory, and Middle Eastern political systems.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate.

    First-year applicants should submit transcripts with a minimum 2.75 GPA (or minimum 2.0 GPA on previous college coursework) and ACT/SAT scores.

    Oregon State University View School Profile $$$ Corvallis, OR 67% 43% 43% Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

    Founded over 150 years ago, OSU continues its pursuit of excellence through Ecampus.

    Students may pursue OSU's political science degree as either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Faculty teach all courses online. Topics include gender and law, international relations, and Middle East politics.

    Students must complete 180 quarter hours (the equivalent of 120 semester hours) to graduate.

    Applicants must submit transcripts. OSU prefers a minimum GPA of 3.0. As of 2021, OSU does not require test scores.

    Texas Tech University View School Profile $$$ Lubbock, TX 59% 45% 50% Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    TTU pioneered distance learning back in 1966 when it broadcasted educational materials for a master of engineering degree program to 78 students via closed-circuit television.

    A bachelor of arts in political science from TTU prepares students for a career in civil service, law, or journalism. Courses include comparative politics, international politics, and careers in politics and policy.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate.

    Applicants must submit transcripts and may choose to provide test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation as supplemental documents.

    Kennesaw State University View School Profile $$$ Kennesaw, GA 43% 49% 42% Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    With two campuses north of Atlanta, KSU provides over 150 degree programs to more than 41,000 students.

    Students often choose KSU's online bachelor of science in political science program to prepare for law school or a career in business. Courses include political ideologies, campaigns and elections, and American political thought.

    Students must complete at least 120 credits and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate.

    Applicants must submit transcripts that show appropriate academic rigor. KSU prefers a minimum GPA of 2.6 or higher. Lower GPAs require test score submissions.

    University of Missouri-St. Louis View School Profile $ Saint Louis, MO 56% 29% 29% The University of Missouri-St. Louis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    UMSL comprises the University of Missouri system along with three other campuses. In total, the UM system offers more than 260 degrees and certifications.

    UMSL's bachelor of arts in political science program consists of 100% online classes. Semester-based courses include world politics, introduction to American politics, and political analysis.

    To graduate, students must earn 120 credits. This program allows up to to 60 transfer credits.

    All applicants must submit transcripts. First-year applicants should also submit test scores. Transfer students must have a minimum 2.3 GPA on their transferred coursework.

    University of West Georgia View School Profile $$$ Carrollton, GA 42% 59% 59% University of West Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Founded in 1906, UWG currently teaches more than 13,400 students and offers more than 85 degree programs.

    UWG offers a bachelor of science in political science program delivered in a 100% online format. Students choose a career emphasis to ensure they take suitable courses for the major. Such courses include gender and politics, media and politics, and public policy.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts and test scores and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

    Troy University View School Profile $$ Troy, AL 43% 63% 52% Troy University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Troy University traces its history back to 1887, when the Alabama Legislature founded it as the Troy State Normal School for teachers.

    Students can earn Troy's bachelor's degree in political science through online courses. Two tracks exist within this program: American politics and public administration and international politics. Courses include state and local politics, constitutional law, and southern politics.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Applicants should submit both GPA and test scores. Troy considers applicants with low GPAs if their test scores remain suitably high.

    University of Illinois at Springfield View School Profile $$ Springfield, IL 51% 46% 68% University of Illinois at Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Originally known as Sangamon State University, UIS joined the University of Illinois in 1995.

    UIS's bachelor of arts in political science program delivers coursework through a 100% online format and allows students to complete an internship in their local area. Core courses include empirical political analysis, international relations, political philosophy.

    To graduate, students must complete 32 credits toward the major.

    To qualify for online learning, students must live at least 50 miles away from Springfield, Illinois. Online political science applicants must have earned at least 30 credits and a minimum GPA. UIS requires transcripts for general admission.

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick View School Profile $$$ New Brunswick, NJ 80% 50% 26% Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    As the largest and oldest of the three universities that form Rutgers, Rutgers - New Brunswick offers more than 100+ undergraduate programs.

    Students at Rutgers can earn a bachelor of arts in political science through a hybrid curriculum that combines in-person classes with online learning. In-person classes may take place at community colleges throughout New Jersey.

    This program accepts applicants with junior standing at Rutgers or those who already hold an associate's degree. First-year applicants to Rutgers must submit transcripts and an essay.

    Eastern Kentucky University View School Profile $$ Richmond, KY 47% 52% 45% Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    First founded in 1906 as a teaching school, EKU earned its current name — and the ability to award other academic degrees — in 1966.

    EKU allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in political science 100% online. Degrees may emphasize public administration/public policy, international relations and comparative politics, or American institutions/law. Courses last 8 weeks.

    Students must earn 120 credits to graduate, 30 of which must come from EKU.All applicants must submit transcripts showing at least a 2.0 GPA.

    University of Arizona View School Profile $$$ Tucson, AZ 64% 37% 39% The University of Arizona is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    UArizona emphasizes curiosity, research, and determination, embodied in its long-standing relationship with NASA.

    UArizona's bachelor of arts in political science program offers an online curriculum. Courses include American national government, international relations, and comparative politics.

    Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. All applicants must submit transcripts.

    Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA 50% 60% 90% Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Founded in 1971 with an emphasis on evangelical Christian values, Liberty University offers over 450 online programs.

    Liberty University students can earn a bachelor's degree in political science by taking 100% online, 8-week courses. Example courses include American political processes, international relations, and American foreign policy.

    Graduation requires 120 credits. Students may transfer up to 75% of their credits. Most complete this degree within 3.5 years.

    Applicants must fill out a high school self-certification form and submit official transcripts.

    Rutgers University-Newark View School Profile $$ Newark, NJ 64% 52% 14% Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Newark is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    Located just minutes from New York City, Rutgers - Newark routinely receives recognition for its diversity.

    Students can earn a bachelor of arts degree in political science through a hybrid format, with some classes occurring online and others occurring on campus or at local community colleges.

    Existing Rutgers-Newark students may apply to the political science program after they achieve junior status. Transfer students may begin coursework if they already hold an associate degree.

    Central Michigan University View School Profile $$ Mount Pleasant, MI 62% 71% 38% Central Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Founded in 1892, CMU currently teaches about one-third of its student body via online courses, and 20 percent of its on-campus students also learn online.

    CMU gives students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of science in political science through a 100% online curriculum. Classes last for 8, 12, or 16 weeks. Sample courses include great political thinkers, state and local government, and empirical methods of political research.

    Graduation requires at least 120 credits. Applicants must submit transcripts or a GED score. CMU prefers candidates with at least a 2.0 GPA.

    Rutgers University-Camden View School Profile $$ Camden, NJ 58% 69% 39% Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Camden is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

    Founded in 1926 as the South Jersey Law School, Rutgers-Camden joined Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in the 1950s.

    Rutgers - Camden provides a bachelor of arts degree in political science through online and in-person classes, which may take place at partner colleges around the state.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts and an essay. After achieving junior status through pre-requisite courses, students may then apply to the political science program.

    Keiser University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL 65% 62% 45% Keiser University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

    Founded in 1977, Keiser has grown to become Florida's largest private, nonprofit university.

    Students can earn a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Keiser through a 100% online format. Courses include voting behavior and public opinion, the campaign process, and religion and politics.

    To graduate, students must earn a total of 120 credits with a "C" grade or better.

    Applicants must submit transcripts or a GED score.

    Online Bachelor's in Political Programs Ranking Guidelines

    We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

    The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

    The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

    To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

    1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

    • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
    • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
    • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
    • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
    • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
    • Considers range of electives within that discipline
    • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

    2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

    • Considers education background of the faculty
    • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
    • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
    • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
    • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

    3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

    • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
      • Faculty
      • Curriculum
      • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
      • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
      • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

    4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

    • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
    • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

    5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

    • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
    • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

    6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

    • Considers the following of the online classes:
      • Types of online technology used to deliver content
      • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
      • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
      • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
    • Considers the following of instructors:
      • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
      • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
      • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
      • Ratio to number of students in a class
    • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

    Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

    To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

    • Accreditation
    • Public or private status
    • Acceptance rate
    • Retention rate
    • Graduation rate
    • ACT/SAT requirements
    • Cost in-state / out of state
    • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
    • Region
    • State
    • City

    Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

    If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

    Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

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