Whether becoming a lobbyist or looking to cover the political landscape, one of the more popular programs to pursue is a higher education degree within political science.

These studies provide a broad overview within political theory and public policy. Universities will typically have an undergraduate and/or graduate curriculum dedicated to political science. Political science education can also be found through an area of emphasis in public administration, or vice versa.

Online Masters of Political Science Degrees

Online Master of Political Science programs can typically be completed within a few years, though some universities will allow for an extended period of time for working professionals that have a very limited amount of time to take classes.

Depending on the university, course lectures will be offered in a live, synchronous format that may require student interaction, or an asynchronous format that can be viewed at anytime. Typically, coursework can be done on a student's own schedule, but they must show progression.

Especially for accelerated programs, there will be weekly assignment deadlines and quizzes or exams that are taken throughout the course.

Universities with Political Science Programs

East Carolina University

Within the Department of Political Science, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Political Science, and a Master of Public Administration that is accredited by NASPAA. Regardless of the undergraduate degree, they require 120 credit hours to complete with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. There are various concentrations that students can select when pursuing a Bachelor of Science:

  • Pre-Law
  • Campaigns, Elections, and American Politics
  • International Relations and Comparative Politics
  • Public Administration and Policy/State and Local Government

Graduates from the MPA program will be able to become an efficient team member, pick up on management and leadership skills as they progress throughout their career, and to be able to analyze and solve various issues in the public sector. Along with the core curriculum that has courses on quantitative methods, human resource management, and public budgeting, there are two areas of emphasis in Management and Public Policy.

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program

School and Program Information Online Program? GRE Requirements Course Information
University of Southern California
Master of Public Administration Online
Ranked #3 for public affairs
check_circle Online Ask representative. Bachelor’s required. Learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months.
Norwich University
Online MPA
NECHE Accredited
check_circle Online No GMAT or GRE Required Graduate in as few as 18 months. Eight concentrations to choose from: Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Fiscal Management, International, Municipal, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis, Public Administration Leadership & Crisis Management, Public Works and Sustainability.
University of North Carolina
Online Master of Public Administration (MPA)
MPA @ UNC
check_circle Online GRE Waivers available Complete in as little as 18 months, includes a Practical Work Experience practicum at a public service organization.
George Washington University
MSCHE Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. 100% online MS in Political Management program, no entrance exam for those that qualify. Earn a GW degree in as few as 18 months.
American University
Online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP)
Master's in Public Policy (MPP)
NASPAA Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. Graduate with your MPAP in 24 months
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Jacksonville State University

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers a Master's degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Political Science. The curriculum provides a core education in leadership and management roles, and there is a mixture of online and on-campus courses to choose from. There are three different times to apply for the program: the fall, spring, and summer terms. The specific political science courses that are required within the program are The American Executive, Intergovernmental Relations, and Administrative Law.

For students that do not have at least one year of full work experience, and internship in public affairs is required during the final semester. At least 112 hours of experience within a government or nonprofit organization is needed for credit, and it is graded on a simple pass or fail system. Students that have either a full year of work experience or two years part-time can apply for a waiver and forego the requirement if approved by the program director.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Arts in Political Science through the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. There are anywhere from 70 to 85 students in this program at one time, with the majority of those being off campus. The program requires 30 credit hours to complete along with a culminating thesis project, and it can be completed either on-campus or fully online. With four different terms, there are many opportunities to be administered into the program. The political science degree itself is not accredited by NASPAA, but the Master of Public Administration is.

VTOnline is the virtual campus that online students use to earn Master's degrees and certifications. Courses are offered in asynchronous format, giving plenty of flexibility to complete the program. Examples of courses within the curriculum include separate overviews in the three branches of government, Contemporary Political Theory, Identity Migration and Place, Politics of Developing Areas, and International Politics.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Earn your MPA online from USC Price and learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s required.
Click for admissions information.

Earn a top-ranked Master of Public Administration online from UNC-Chapel Hill without relocating. MPA @ UNC can be completed in as few as 18 months and no public service experience is required to apply. Advanced degree GRE waivers are available to those who qualify.
Click for admissions information at OnlineMPA.UNC.edu

The Master of Public Administration program at Norwich University can equip you with the skills necessary to become a more effective leader and make a positive difference. Graduate in as few as 18 months with 100% online coursework and no GRE or GMAT required. Choose from one of eight concentrations which include Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Policy Analysis and Analytics, Nonprofit Management and Public Works and Sustainability.

Earn a master’s degree from a top-ranked school for public affairs. American University brings DC to you with the online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP), combining our nationally recognized and NASPAA-accredited Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) degree programs into one foundational, highly marketable credential. Click here for more program information.

Course Examples

Political Philosophy

A theoretical course that typically looks at political philosophers throughout history, and can widely range all the way from Ancient China and Greece up to the industrial revolution. Many topics will be covered, such as human rights, liberty, and laws, and the political ideology in certain time periods. Examples of popular philosophers that can be studied are Aristotle, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and John Rawls.

Politics and Public Opinion

The study of political discourse within United States communities and how that can effect elections. Survey methods can be reviewed in these courses, providing a look into how public opinion is formed within the community, the media impact, how well are citizens informed on local and important issues, and how polarization can form.

Administrative Law

An overview of the American government and the various aspects and origins of decision making. Students explore the entire process of creating laws, ethical and legal issues within administrative law, and the positive and negative impact the American government has had. Frequently, these courses will look into the latest problems that are taking place within the government and can explore case law.

Environmental Politics and Policy

Looking at the latest developments within environmental regulations and where certain parties stand on the issue. This course will also explore how public policy has been created toward environmental issues in the past. Popular topics within these courses include global warming, how inequality around the world contributes to climate change, and potential future regulations that can help our environment.

International Relations

Also known as international studies or global affairs, this course explores the intersection of policy and regulation on a worldwide scale. A wide range of topics can be explored in these courses, such as the evolution of various cultures, normative or positivist theories, and looking at institutions that are part of international relations such as third-world development banks human rights courts.

NASPAA Accreditation

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has a peer-reviewed accreditation process that ensures the curriculum of a graduate program at a particular institution meets high standards in public service. Typically, requirements to get into an accredited program are a Bachelor’s degree and demonstrate prior work achievements and career goals. There are over 300 colleges around the world that have received this accreditation, and it requires annual overview of teaching capabilities and updating the curriculum to maintain high standards. While there is no Master of Political Science that is accredited directly by NASPAA, there are public administration degrees that have concentrations and electives within political science.

Career Opportunities

Political Correspondent

Within the field of journalism, correspondents create political content for news broadcasts and have a goal to inform the community on current events at various levels, both locally and internationally. In many cases, they will travel to gain an in-person perspective and retrieve further information for a specific news report. Only a Bachelor’s degree is typically required for this position, and a way to advance one’s journalism career is maintaining a growing portfolio of content and establishing a network with other broadcast media.

Lobbyist

Works with and represents a variety of clients to determine the issues that will be negotiated during the legislation process. Not only must they gather information and data from the clients on the issues involved, but this is also analyzed to determine the impact that they will have. Lobbyists will then try to approve or eliminate the proposed legislation. There is a need for lobbyists in all levels of government, and based on specialties and locations, salary can range greatly.

Attorney

One of the most common undergraduate degrees students receive before heading to law school is political science. This provides them an overview of how the government and legal system works and provides important skills such as researching cases for the client they represent, interviewing clients to present an argument for the plaintiff or defense, and closely analyzing information to see what holds up in court and the best scenario to make a case stand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, attorneys on average make around $120,900 per year.