Political science is one of the social science disciplines that deal with government and the analysis of political activity and political behavior. Political science master’s degree programs prepare graduates for careers in public and private sectors. Graduates who seek careers as college professors also can further their education with doctoral studies in political science. Students who complete online master in political science degree programs increase their career options and earning potential.
A small sample of potential careers for political science graduates could include:
- Campaign Staff
- CIA Analyst or Agent
- City Planner
- Congressional Office Staffer
- Environmental Policy Analyst
- Federal Government Analyst
- Foreign Service Officer
- Journalist, Political Correspondent
- Juvenile Justice Specialist
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Non-Profit Program Manager
- Policy Analyst
- Political Commentator
- Polling/Survey Analyst
- Public Affairs Research Analyst
- State Legislator
- Urban Policy Planner
Students in master’s degree programs gain a greater understanding of political science by delving into the inner-workings and insights of today’s governments and societies. Students also gain the ability to understand, promote and evaluate public policy. Graduates are able to research political ideas; analyze policies, governments and political trends; and apply the research to the political system.
Master’s in political science degree programs typically include courses in a variety of areas such as comparative policies, security issues, international relationships, the American political system and methodology. The programs also often allow students to tailor the degree to their personal and professional goals with concentrations in a variety of areas such as international affairs, national security or public law.
Online Master in Political Science degree program ranking guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, and faculty strength, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, specifically a strong reputation for quality online degree programs.
The Best Online Master in Political Science Degree Programs
1Virginia Tech, Department of Political Science
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), a public, space-grant, sea-grant and land-grant research university, established in 1872, offers more than 225 programs leading to a host of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Among the largest universities in Virginia, Virginia Tech enrolls about 30,000 students.
The online Master of Arts in Political Science degree features empirically oriented and theoretically grounded courses. Designed to prepare graduates for careers in government, private sector research or non-profit organizations or for doctoral studies in political science, the program helps students develop analytical and theoretical skills. The program also includes the study of climate change, critical legal studies, nationalism studies and the politic of human rights.
The online program features asynchronous courses which offer the same content and have the same requirements as the on-campus program. Most students complete the degree program in four semesters. Online students have access to library resources. The 30-semester-hour online Master in Political Science degree consists of core and elective classes and a master’s thesis. Courses include:
- Contemporary Political Theory
- Research Methods
- Transnational Migration
- Politics of Developing Areas
- Communist and Post-Communist Systems
- Electronic Governance
- Industrial Democracies
- Women and Globalization
Virginia Tech is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
2University of Nebraska Omaha, College of Arts and Sciences
University of Nebraska Omaha, a public, space-grant university founded in 1908, offers more than 170 programs leading to a host of undergraduate, graduate, and specialist degrees as well as two dozen undergraduate and graduate certificates. University of Nebraska Omaha enrolls about 15,500 students.
Offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, the online Master of Science in Political Science degree program features a broad foundation in political science while allowing a high degree of interdisciplinary collaboration. Students can tailor their degree through adding a concentration in International Affairs; certificates in Intelligence and National Security or Global Information Operations; or specializations in other disciplines such as history, communications and psychology. The program prepares graduates for a host of careers, including careers in politics. The same faculty teach the program’s on-campus and online courses.
Students can choose to complete a thesis or non-thesis track. The non-thesis track includes a capstone course. Most students complete the program in two years. The fully online Master in Political Science degree program features asynchronous courses, which allow students to choose when they complete coursework. The 30-credit-hour degree program includes the following seminar courses:
- American Government & Politics
- Research Methods
- Foreign & Security Policies
- Leadership Theory & Application
- Political Theory
- Comparative Politics
- International Relations
University of Nebraska Omaha is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3University of Illinois at Springfield, Political Science Department
The University of Illinois at Springfield, a public, land-grant university, enrolls about 5,700 students. Part of the University of Illinois system, the University offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Offered through the Political Science Department, the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Master’s in Political Science online degree program combines theory and practice. The program features instruction in public law, international relations, political philosophy, and American state and national politics. The political science program prepares graduates for careers as political practitioners and public officials. Students can tailor their degree to their personal and career goals through adding an area of emphasis in Comparative Politics/International Relations, American National and State Politics, and Public Law.
The 40-hour Master’s in Political Science online degree program includes core courses such as Introduction to the Graduate Study of Politics and Methods of Inquiry. The fully online program includes synchronous and asynchronous elements. Students choose to complete a Comprehensive Examination, Participant/Observer Case Study or Thesis. The program also includes the following course options:
- Legislative Politics
- Current and Emerging Public Policies
- Political Psychology
- International Law and Organizations
- Conflict & Intervention
- Marxist Philosophy: Past, Present, Future
- Feminist Theories
- Democratization and the Public Sphere
The University of Illinois at Springfield is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4University of West Florida, Department of Government
The University of West Florida, a public, space-grant university established in 1963, enrolls more than 12,600 students. A member of the State University System of Florida, the University of West Florida offers more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees and more than 28 fully online programs.
The University of West Florida’s Department of Government offers a Master of Arts in Political Science online degree, which includes the study of international relations, political theory, political economy, and American politics. The program prepares graduates for a host of careers including those in media, national security, military and the non-profit sector. Students can tailor the Master’s degree in Political Science to their professional and personal goals with three tracks – security and diplomacy, generalist, and public administration.
To earn the degree, students must complete 33 semester hours and a comprehensive exam or thesis. Courses follow a synchronous format, and students must attend live lectures using a video conferencing service. The online Master in Political Science degree program includes core courses such as:
- Seminar in International Relations
- Seminar in Comparative Politics
- The Study of Politics
- Political Economy of Public Administration
- Seminar in American Politics
- Modern Masters of Political Thought
- Ancient Masters of Political Thought
- Students also can pursue an Online Civics Educator Certificate
The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
5University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Political Science, International Development & International Affairs
The University of Southern Mississippi, a public research university founded in 1910, enrolls more than 14,800 students. Southern Miss offers about 190 programs leading to a host of undergraduate, graduate and specialist degrees.
The University of Southern Mississippi offers an Online Master of Arts in Political Science degree with an emphasis in international development through its Department of Political Science, International Development & International Affairs. The student-centered program focuses on the interaction of culture, government and economics from domestic and international perspectives. The degree program prepares graduates for careers in politics and government.
The 33-semester hour program includes a thesis, comprehensive examination and thesis defense.
The fully online Master in Political Science degree, with an emphasis in international development, includes courses such as:
- Political Analysis
- Political Theory Plato to Machiavelli
- Topics in Political Philosophy
- International Law and Organization
- Urban Politics
- Mississippi Government
- Women and the Law
- United States Constitutional Law
The University of Southern Mississippi is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).