Best Online Political Science Degree

by TBS Staff Writers, Holland Webb
• 2 min read
reviewed by TBS Rankings Team
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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.

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.

Featured Political Science Online Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Political Science Programs

#1 Online College in Florida

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

FIU's bachelor's in political science prepares enrollees for jobs in the government, nonprofits, or the private sector. 

Classes in this 120-credit program cover topics like American politics, political theory, and international affairs. Enrollees must take two upper-level electives. Students pursuing this online political science degree must complete 39 credits in the major and maintain a grade of "C" or better. FIU pairs every undergraduate with a success coach.

Applicants submit official high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and an application fee.

Available Scholarships: FIU Online Distance Learning Scholarship

#2 Online College in Florida

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Orlando-based UCF offers a 120-credit bachelor's in political science. Graduates may work as paralegals, lobbyists, or foreign service officers. 

Students take 30 credits in the major, including six credits in American politics and policy and six in international relations and comparative government. Classes cover topics like cyberwarfare policy and military power and effectiveness. To graduate, students need a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Applicants submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and evidence of competence in a foreign language or American Sign Language.

Available Scholarships: Bank of America Florida's Community Scholars Program

#3 Online College in New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University

School Information
Location Manchester, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

SNHU offers an online bachelor's in political science. The 120-credit program takes a practical approach to studying politics. Graduates may work as campaign managers, lobbyists, or fundraising coordinators.

Students who wish to focus on history, theory, or philosophy may choose the bachelor of arts. Those who want to study economics or quantitative methods may choose the bachelor of science. Classes cover topics like the legal system in America and public administration.

Applicants submit transcripts of previous coursework. SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits. The school also awards credit for work or life experience. 

Available Scholarships: Online and Continuing Education Scholarship

#4 Online College in Kansas

Fort Hays State University

School Information
Location Hays, Kansas
Admission Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Pre-law; public administration; international relations/comparative politics; American politics; political theory; democratic engagement

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Kansas-based FHSU offers both a bachelor of arts (BA) and a bachelor of science (BS) in political science online. Graduates may pursue careers in activism, policy, or law.

Students take 22 credits of core courses and 12 credits of electives in the major. Core classes include political philosophy and American government. BA degree-seekers take 10 foreign language credits. BS degree-seekers take additional math and science credits.

Applicants need a 2.25 GPA and a 21 on the ACT.

Available Scholarships: Special Out-of-State Scholarship

#5 Online College in Arizona

Arizona State University-Skysong

School Information
Location Scottsdale, Arizona
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 4%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

ASU's online bachelor's in political science program prepares students for careers in business, law, and government. 

Enrollees can pursue this 120-credit major as a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS). BA degree-seekers take more classes in foreign languages. The BS track emphasizes statistical analysis. Classes include political ideologies, global politics, and American government and politics. Each class lasts 7.5 weeks.

Applicants need a high school diploma. They must also have graduated in the top 25% of their class, hold a 3.0 GPA or higher, or score above ASU's minimum on the ACT or SAT. 

Available Scholarships: ASU Black African Coalition Student Scholar Fund

#6 Online College in Georgia

Kennesaw State University

School Information
Location Kennesaw, Georgia
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Constitutional studies; professional politics; political communication

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Kennesaw State's online bachelor's in political science program teaches students how to participate in a democracy. Graduates may apply for admission to law school or begin careers in business or government.

This 120-credit program requires 21 credits across four subfields. Learners take classes in American government, global studies, and political theory. Enrollees also take upper-level major electives. 

Students can concentrate their electives in a single field to earn a certificate in constitutional studies, professional politics, or political communication. Applicants submit high school and college transcripts. Kennesaw State also requires ACT or SAT scores. 

Available Scholarships: Zell Miller Scholarship Program

#7 Online College in Arizona

University of Arizona

School Information
Location Tucson, Arizona
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 65%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Students pursuing UofA's bachelor's in political science explore the political process that influences government policy. Graduates may work for international organizations, political campaigns, or interest groups.

The 120-credit program includes classes in political sociology, experimental political science, and politics in the digital age. Students must also demonstrate knowledge of a foreign language at the fourth-semester level.

First-year applicants submit official transcripts from high school and any military or postsecondary educational experiences. Transfer students who have not completed an associate degree must also submit a high school or GED diploma.

Available Scholarships: Bridge Scholarship for Transfer Students

#8 Online College in Maryland

University of Maryland Global Campus

School Information
Location Adelphi, Maryland
Graduation Rate 15%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 90% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

UMGC's bachelor's in political science program teaches students how to interpret and solve complex political problems. Graduates may work for intelligence agencies or political campaigns.

This 120-credit program requires 41 general education credits, 30 major courses, and 49 minor and elective credits. Courses cover topics like global political economy, global terrorism, and comparative politics and government. Classes combine theory with real-world application.

UMGC accepts up to 90 transfer credits for this degree. Applicants need a U.S. high school or GED diploma. 

Available Scholarships: Welcome to MD Scholarship

#9 Online College in Indiana

Indiana University-East

School Information
Location Richmond, Indiana
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 40%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 79% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Richmond-based IU East offers an online bachelor's in political science program that teaches students how to write articulately, think logically, and argue persuasively. Graduates may work as legal assistants, community organizers, or political scientists.

This 120-credit program requires 36 credits at the 300-level or above. Enrollees must complete at least 18 of those in the major. Classes cover American politics, political theory, and analyzing politics. Degree-seekers also complete a senior seminar.

Applicants submit high school transcripts. IU East accepts up to 60 credits from a community college or 90 credits from a four-year school. 

Available Scholarships: Academic Achievement Scholarship

#10 Online College in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

School Information
Location University Park, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: N/A

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Penn State World Campus offers a 123-credit online bachelor's in political science degree. The program teaches learners how to analyze domestic and international politics. Graduates can pursue political science careers or apply for graduate school.

This online political science program allows students to tailor their curriculum either to general political science or to a subfield. Learners take 36 major credits, including international relations and contemporary political ideologies.

Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Penn State World Campus accepts new students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters.

Available Scholarships: World Campus Scholarships

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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