Online Master’s Political Science Degree

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated January 12, 2024
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Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.

Degrees

Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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Political science is a field of social science that deals with the different systems of power and governance, analysis of political activities, political behavior, and political thought. An online master’s political science degree takes an interdisciplinary approach to the subject and focuses on polity, international law, political doctrines, governance, and political philosophy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job growth for professionals in political science to be about 6% between 2021 and 2031, which is as fast as the average[1]. After completing the online master’s degree in political science, professionals can work in varied fields as political scientists, social scientists, and more.

Political-Science

Best Online Master’s Political Science
Degree Programs

There are various ways to choose the best online master’s degree in political science. Several factors will determine a top master’s program, like the quality of the faculty, research opportunities, internship or fieldwork, specializations offered, and the institution’s accreditation status and reputation. Students choose programs based on varying priorities, and for many students, choosing the cheapest online master’s in political science is typically one of them. Based on all these factors and more, here are some of the best online master’s political science degree programs in the U.S.:*

Virginia Tech (formally the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and informally VT, or VPI) is a public land-grant research university founded in 1872. It has its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, and offers about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 210 Burruss Hall, 800 Drillfield Dr., Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 $14,098 87%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Online Master’s
Political Science Program

Students who pursue an online master’s in political science program would be provided with advanced training in studying political institutions and processes at national and international levels. They gain advanced training in the core political science ideas and deal with cutting-edge statistical methodology and research. This program will provide in-depth training and insights to help students succeed academically and professionally.

The online master’s degree political science is available to students in online, offline, and hybrid learning modes. The program entails introductory courses and electives and could be thesis-based or non-thesis-based. Aside from coursework, students will receive advanced training in various research methods and take up interdependent research projects on their topics of interest. They will be able to gain significant skills in qualitative and quantitate analysis and explore key literature in the fields of political science field. The curriculum of the program would differ from institution to institution. However, some of the standard courses that one would find in the political science master’s are:

Economics and Public Policy

In this course, students understand the importance of formulating public policy and the policymaker’s role. They study the different components of political economy and learn about developing public policy, helping them become efficient policymakers.

Introduction to Geopolitics and International Diplomacy

In this course, one studies foreign policies to understand, predict, and explain the behavior of international policy through different geographical variables. Students look at the effects of the Earth’s geography on international relations and politics. The course focuses on current geopolitical realities as an evolutionary process.

Political Psychology

Like all fields of therapy, there are different ethical issues in art therapy that a student needs to understand before venturing into the profession. This course teaches students about the concepts of privacy, predictability, and safety related to an art therapy session. They also learn about the implications of breaching protocols and confidentiality.

American Political Processes

This course examines the formal and informal institutions of governments and organizations like pressure groups and political parties. Students understand the different electoral processes in America and learn about the organizations like interest groups and political parties who influence them.

Gender and Politics

In this course, students study interdisciplinary topics of political science and gender studies that aim to understand the different relationships between genders and political phenomena. It analyzes how people participate politically and interact through their gender identities.

Examples of other courses one can expect in online master’s degree political science programs include:

  • American Governmental Institutions
  • American Governmental Institutions
  • American Political Culture
  • Introduction to Political Economy
  • Introduction to Statistics and Programming
  • Process Tracing
  • Public Opinion
  • Political Communications
  • Public Behavior
  • Elections and Democracy
  • Fostering Peace in Societies

Read the guide to master’s programs to understand them better.

Degree Types for Online Master’s Political
Science Programs

There are two types of degrees in online master’s in political science – The Master of Arts in Political Science or MA Political Science and the Master of Science in Political Science or MS in Political Science.

Master of Arts in Political Science

The Master of Arts in Political Science or MA Political Science focuses on the practice and theory of politics and its analysis and description of political behavior and political system. It also covers an in-depth analysis and study of political science and advances in this field while examining how political science affects us.

Master of Science in Political Science

The Master of Science in Political Science or MS Political Science focuses on making students understand the influence that politics and governments have on society. Students learn about the many domestic and international governance structures and can evaluate the current knowledge and research in the discipline of political science.

Areas of Specialization for Online Master’s
Political Science Degrees

Specializations help students focus on specific aspects of an academic field. They provide deeper insights into these aspects and can help one become a specialist in niche areas of political science. Those pursuing an online master’s in political science degree can opt to specialize in some of the following areas:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
American PoliticsIn this specialization, students focus on overall American development and its governance system. It looks at the different political institutions in America and their relationship with the citizens of the United States. It also looks at the different attitudes and behaviors of American citizens.Niche roles as political scientists
Comparative PoliticsThis specialization is characterized by empirical and comparative methods. One explores politics between and within countries and examines their political behavior.Niche roles as political scientists
Political TheoryIn the specialization, students study topics like justice, property, law, right, liberty, and politics. They focus on what rights and freedoms the government should protect, governmental regulations, and the duties of citizens to make a legitimate government.Niche roles as political scientists
International RelationsIn this specialization, students look at how different states interact. They take a scientific approach to understanding concepts like diplomacy, war, foreign policy, and trade. They learn about the interaction of various international organizations.Niche roles as political scientists
Political BehaviorThis specialization focuses on tangible forms of behavior in politics, like voting and participation. Students study mass communication, political psychology, and public opinion.Niche roles as political scientists
Political MethodologyIn the specialization, students learn about the different empirical approaches to research, like interpretivism, historical, experimental, and quantitative components. They analyze various tools used in the study to understand the nature of the political inquiry.Niche roles as political scientists
Social and Political TheoryIn the specialization, students learn the different analytical paradigms or frameworks that can be used to interpret and study social phenomena. They also examine the shared cultural and intellectual history in society.Niche roles as political scientists

Why should I do an Online Master’s Political
Science Degree?

An online political science master’s helps students gain a good understanding of the many influences on government and politics and the challenges with both. Throughout the degree, students learn how other international and domestic government political processes and structures influence one another. The program expands their understanding of the contemporary and historical ideas that impact politics. Students will receive a theoretical and broad-based approach to studying government and politics and learn about the biblical and philosophical impacts of government and politics. This program is especially beneficial for those interested in policy development, diplomacy, advocacy, etc.

Some of the skills which an online master’s political science develops during the program include the ability to:

  • show insight into crucial theories of political science and develop practical insights into governance and politics and other challenges which non-governmental or governmental organizations;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the role that a government plays in history, political development, education, ethics, history, law, etc.;
  • explore political theories and practices, and analyze political cultures, systems, and behavior;
  • develop a curriculum of political science emphasizing topics like American culture and literature, international security, social justice, and more;
  • demonstrate skills in policy development, public economy on the economy, international governance, and American foreign policy;
  • advocate in the matters of political science, develop initiatives of advocacy, mold public opinion, craft laws, consult corporations and candidates, and manage national organizations;
  • demonstrate diverse skills to deal with different political issues and the potential impacts of the consequences of these political issues;
  • demonstrate the ability to develop techniques and skills needed to be efficient researchers and writers for data and report compilations to form critical public policies.

Free Courses for Online Master’s Political
Science Degree Students

Numerous free courses in political science are available online from educational platforms, independent tutors, and universities. Although these free courses do not grant a degree or qualification, they do help students understand what to expect when enrolling in an online master’s degree program in political science. They can also assist with exam preparation and homework. Here are some examples to explore:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Public Leadership CredentialThe Harvard Kennedy School Faculty developed this course, which equips students with the skills necessary for advancing the public good.Harvard University [2]
Moral Foundations of PoliticsThis course helps students explore diverse political theories, including Marxism, Utilitarianism, and the social contract tradition. They make classical formulations from historical contexts and put them in the context of contemporary politics.Coursera [3]
Contemporary Issues in World PoliticsIn this course, students explore the major issues that occur in world politics. They learn about the recent developments which have challenged world peace and order.edX [4]

How to get into the Online Master’s Political
Science Program?

There are many admission requirements that a master’s in political science student would need to fulfill for successful enrollment into the program. Although each college’s admission criteria may differ, one can expect the following common online master’s political science degree admission requirements:

  • Completed application form with application fee
  • Minimum of 2.75 GPA (out of 4.0) in the undergraduate degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts of previous schools attended
  • Graduate Record Examination or GRE score (often waived off by some colleges) [5]
  • Two or three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement

No GRE Online Master’s Political
Science Programs

Although most colleges have the GRE score as an admissions criterion, a growing number of them do not require GRE scores to be submitted during admission. Where the GRE is generally required, waivers may be granted to those with a high GPA or several years of work experience. Eastern Illinois University[6], Fort Hays State University[7], the Liberty University[8], are fine examples of institutions offering online master’s political science no GRE programs.

How Long does it take to complete the Online Master’s
Political Science Degree

The time it takes to complete an online master’s degree in political science would often depend on the program’s specifications and the college the student selects. Usually, a master’s program in political science takes two years to complete. Those with family or work-related commitments would prefer to finish the degree part-time, generally requiring two to four years to finish.

Accelerated Online Master’s Political
Science Degrees

By accelerating or fast-tracking a degree, students can ensure that they graduate and enter the workforce sooner. Accelerated programs save time and money and are an excellent option for those who want to spend less time in school. Boise State University [9], The University of Alabama [10], and Western Michigan University [11] are three good examples of universities offering accelerated online political science master’s degrees.

Accreditations for Online Master’s Political
Science Degrees

Accreditation refers to both initial and ongoing accreditation of schools, post-secondary education institutions, or programs that seek to meet the standards of nationally recognized accreditation bodies. Accreditation attests to the academic and administrative excellence of institutions and is invaluable to students when seeking employment. Accredited online master’s in political science programs are usually offered by regionally accredited universities, such as:

Students can check the accreditation status of their university through the official website of the United States Department of Education (USDE)[12] and/or the Council for Higher Education[13].

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Students can check the accreditation status of their university through the official website of the United States Department of Education (USDE)[12] and/or the Council for Higher Education[13].

How to Pay for an Online Master’s
Political Science Degree?

The online master’s degree in political science program is much-sought. The tuition fees for this program run into thousands of dollars and increase with each passing year. Although online students do have the advantage of not visiting the campus, so they save on travel, gas, parking, boarding, and using school facilities, the tuition fees are still quite high. Fortunately, various sources of funding are available that can significantly reduce overall educational costs. Some such sources of funding are:

Scholarships

Scholarships are typically awarded on an applicant’s merit, so students who excel in academics, sports, or other areas are automatically considered. They are given to deserving students by religious organizations, communities, individuals, for-profit organizations, and universities. The best part about scholarships is that they are “free money” in the sense that the money students receive does not have to be repaid.

Grants

Grants are a type of financial assistance given to students based on their financial needs and are intended to help with tuition fees. Grants, like scholarships, do not have to be repaid and can be used to cover any educational cost other than tuition.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships allow students to work part-time, assisting teachers (graduate teaching assistants) or helping professors with research (graduate research assistants) at the university where they are enrolled in exchange for a tuition reduction or a stipend.

Student loans

Student loans, also known as education loans, are sums of money borrowed from banks or financial institutions to fund education-related expenses such as tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses while pursuing a degree. Loans must be repaid with interest, typically in equalized monthly installments.

FAFSA

Students can apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to check if they qualify for federal financial aid for grad school.

Scholarships for Online Master’s Political
Science Degree Students

Students who maintain high GPAs and have a history of academic success have a better chance of being selected for scholarships offered by a variety of educational organizations, private individuals, and community organizations. Here are a few examples of scholarships for master’s degree in political science online students:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardDeadline
Boren Fellowship [15]The Boren Fellowship is awarded to students who come from diverse backgrounds. Those awarded this fellowship must be committed to public service.$25,000 to $12,000January 25, 2024
Henry Salvatori Fellowship [16]Henry Salvatori Fellowship, created by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), is awarded to those studying anything related to the principles held by the American Founding Fathers and the American Culture, which grew from their values and views.$5000 to $15,000January 12, 2024
Nico Linesch Boundary Crossing Scholar’s Award [17]The Nico Linesch Boundary Crossing Scholar’s Award is given to deserving students and includes a stipend and internship plan at a nonprofit and governmental agency.$4,000TBA

FAQs Related to the Online Master’s
Political Science Degree

What is political science?

Political science covers regional politics, significant governments worldwide, international relations, international politics, and public administration. Students study topics like political philosophy and comparative politics in their master’s programs.

What is a master’s in political science degree?

What can you do with an online political science master’s degree?

Is a master’s degree in political science worth it?

How many credits is an associate’s degree in political science?

What specializations are provided to students with master’s degrees in political science?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an Online
Master’s Political Science Degree

A graduate program in political science can lead students to have influential careers in local and state governments, business, law, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), campaigns, associations, voting, journalism, and more. Political science graduates will be able to develop policies, research and analyze different government data. Some of the careers online political science master’s graduates can explore are:

Occupation Job Description Skills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2031)
Political Scientists [18]Political scientists typically study political systems’ development, operation, and origin. They collect and analyze data from different sources, like public opinion surveys. They use qualitative and quantitative methods, which could be used to develop or test theories.Communication skills, analytical skills, critical-thinking skills, creativity$122,5106% (as fast as average)
Urban and Regional Planners [19]Regional and Urban planners develop land programs and plans that help them create communities that revitalize physical facilities and accommodate population growth. They analyze legal, political, demographic, and cultural factors affecting land usage.Decision-making skills, analytical skills, communication skills, leadership skills$78,5004% (as fast as average)
Survey Researchers [20]Survey researchers analyze data and conduct surveys. They plan and design surveys and determine suitable methods of survey. They test surveys that make sure people understand what questions are asked.Problem-solving skills, analytical skills, leadership skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, detail-oriented$59,7406% (as fast as average)
Postsecondary Education Administrators [21]Postsecondary education administrators oversee academics, faculty research, and student services at universities and colleges. They are responsible for student affairs and different functions of co-curricular activities in schools.Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, organizational skills, computer skills$96,9107% (as fast as average)
Sociologists [22]Sociologists study social behavior and components of society. They focus on human social behavior, social interaction, culture, and other aspects related to everyday life. They understand people’s behaviors in the context of their more significant economic and social forces.Critical-thinking skills, analytical skills, communication skills$92,9105% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Master’s
Political Science Students

Students can gain a competitive advantage, industry skills, and ways to maximize their earning potential through certifications. They aid in the expansion of one’s career opportunities. However, online political science master’s students may find it challenging to come by any worthwhile certifications in their field. Also, those with a political science master’s degree do not require state licensure to work as political scientists or in related roles.

Additional Resources for Online Master’s
Political Science Students

Students pursuing online master’s political science degrees should participate in professional organizations which offer a variety of opportunities. To gain insights into how politics can influence or affect them, one can network with prominent professionals and organization members working in a variety of fields. Members can also gain access to journals, webinars, seminars, and research reports, all of which can be extremely beneficial to their studies or careers. Here are a few professional organizations to look into:

Organization Job Description
American Political Science Association [24]The American Political Science Association engages its members in teaching and learning through conferences, publications, and more. They provide essential resources on civic engagement topics and work on making civic education a priority like other disciplines, such as STEM education.
Southern Political Science Association [25]The Southern Political Science Association aims to build standards of competence in people engaged in the professional study and practice of politics and government. They publish the Journal of Politics, which outlines methodologies and diverse research in politics.
Midwest Political Science Association [26]The Midwest Political Science Association is a nonpartisan association that offers scholarships to students in various areas of political science. It promotes professional study and teaching in the field and also facilitates communication between other members engaged in political studies.
International Political Science Association [27]The International Political Science Association develops policies and activities focusing on global political science development. It aims to create inclusive communities across the globe to meet the needs of political scientists all over the world.
Northeastern Political Science Association [28]The Northeastern Political Science Association supports the professional development of its members by providing scholarships and opportunities for research. The organization focuses on advancing intellectual diversity, freedom of inquiry, and values of collegiality. It promotes the study of politics and government.

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.

Degrees

Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

Disclaimer:

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