Daniel D'Souza
Written By - Daniel D'Souza

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In an era marked by increasing political divisiveness, it’s essential to recognize that such polarization has deep historical roots, spanning centuries. Political Science professionals analyze and dissect these enduring divisions and offer expert insights into a wide array of critical areas, including public policy, wealth distribution, international affairs, governmental operations, and the intricate dynamics of political parties during elections. A Master’s degree in Political Science represents a postgraduate academic journey that immerses students in systematically examining government systems, political behavior, political theory, and public policy. This advanced education equips them with a profound comprehension of the political landscape, spanning national and international spheres. Regardless of their specific interests in Political Science, this field presents promising career prospects. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a six percent projected job growth for Political Science professionals from 2022 to 2032 [1]

Emphasizing a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, the program prepares graduates for diverse career paths, including academia, government roles, international organizations, non-profit sectors, and various other fields. This comprehensive guide will navigate all facets of online Masters in Political Science programs.

Political Science

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Political Science Online Programs

A political science major at a bachelor’s level might get a job in political science. But to become a Political Science professional, a master’s in political science is essential.  While one contemplates the best political science master’s programs, we have created a list based on alum review, return on investment, program quality, flexibility, and many more factors. Here is a list of the best political science master’s programs:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
210 Burruss Hall, 800 Drillfield Dr., Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
East Carolina University
East 5th Street, Greenville, North Carolina 27858
Norwich University
158 Harmon Drive, Northfield, Vermont 05663-1035
Georgia State University
33 gilmer st, Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
University of Illinois Springfield
One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois 62703
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920
University of Nebraska at Omaha
6001 Dodge St, Omaha, Nebraska 68182
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514
American Public University
111 W Congress St, Charles Town, West Virginia 25414
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 North River Road, Manchester, New Hampshire 03106
Western New Mexico University
1000 W. College Ave, Silver City, New Mexico 88061
Bellevue University
1000 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, Nebraska 68005-3098

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Affordable Master’s in Political Science Online Programs

While many students are interested in American Politics and International affairs, it might not be practical to afford the program. We at Online Masters Colleges know that education costs are skyrocketing, and graduate programs are even more expensive. Luckily, many universities started rolling out affordable master’s programs. Here is a list of the most affordable online master’s in political science:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Western New Mexico University
1000 W. College Ave, Silver City, New Mexico 88061
Fort Hays State University
600 Park St, Hays, Kansas 67601
Sul Ross State University
HWY 90 East, Alpine, Texas 79832
Northeastern State University
600 N Grand, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74464
University of Nebraska at Omaha
6001 Dodge St, Omaha, Nebraska 68182
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
American Public University System
111 W Congress St, Charles Town, West Virginia 25414
Texas A&M University
JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843
The University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois 62703
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive # 0001, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406
Bellevue University
1000 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, Nebraska 68005-3098
Regent University
1000 Regent University Dr, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Political Science Online Programs

A master’s in political science helps one learn about all government branches, such as legislative, executive, and judicial. It introduces students to connecting politics with public policy and the complex world of public administration and different government systems. These programs also help graduates improve their writing, communication, analysis, and data skills. 

A master’s in political science helps them do that and explore everything about domestic and international affairs. As part of the study, they will learn about all aspects of political behavior, policy issues, different government structures across the globe, and much more.  But before one applies for an online graduate political science program, let us dig deep and understand all aspects of these programs.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Political Science Programs

Apart from gaining, applying the knowledge in real-life scenarios is taught across all the universities. It is the same for political science courses online, where one is given a platform to develop skills such as Planning and development skills, Research and quantitative skills, Analytical skills, Effective communication skills, and more.

A Major in political science encompasses lessons in different subjects. The curriculum for these programs may vary between various universities that offer them. However, here are a few courses that one comes across in masters in political science programs:


This course provides an in-depth exploration of microeconomic principles, examining the behavior of individual economic agents such as consumers, firms, and markets. Students will delve into topics such as supply and demand, market structures, consumer choice, and the role of government in influencing economic outcomes. Through theoretical frameworks and practical applications, this course equips them with the analytical tools to understand decision-making at the individual and firm levels within the broader economic context.

Modern Political Theory

This course delves into the evolution of political thought from the late 19th century to the present day. Students will critically engage with influential political theorists and examine the ideas shaping contemporary political discourse. Themes such as justice, equality, power, and governance will be explored within diverse ideologies, including liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and feminism. Through readings, discussions, and critical analysis, graduates will gain a nuanced understanding of the intellectual foundations that underpin modern political ideologies.

American Government and Politics

Focusing on the United States political system, this course provides a comprehensive overview of American government structures, political processes, and institutions. Students will explore the Constitution, the federal system, the role of Congress, the Presidency, and the judiciary. Additionally, the course covers topics such as political parties, elections, and public policy. Through case studies and contemporary issues, they will develop a thorough understanding of the complexities and dynamics of American government and politics.

Women and American Politics

This course critically examines the intersection of gender and politics in the United States. Students will explore women’s historical struggles and achievements in American politics, addressing issues such as voting, representation, and policy advocacy. The course delves into contemporary challenges women face in political spheres and analyzes the impact of gender on political participation, policy formation, and leadership. Through a multidisciplinary approach, one gains insights into the evolving role of women in shaping American political landscapes.

Law, Politics, and Justice

This course explores the intricate relationship between law, politics, and the pursuit of justice. Students will analyze legal systems, the role of courts, and the impact of legal decisions on political structures. The course delves into ethical considerations, human rights, and the principles that guide legal and political decision-making. 

Some additional courses that one can find across different institutions include: 

  • Political Theory
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Research Methods in Political Science
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Political Economy
  • American Political Institutions
  • Security Studies
  • Environmental Politics
  • Gender and Politics
  • Human Rights and Global Justice
  • Political Leadership and Communication
  • Seminar in Political Science
  • Thesis or Capstone Project

Completing a Master’s in Political Science program equips individuals with diverse skills that are valuable across various professional sectors. Here are some skills typically gained:

  • Research and Analytical Skills
    The program emphasizes research methodologies, enabling students to gather, analyze, and interpret data effectively, which is essential for academic and applied settings.
  • Negotiation and Diplomacy
    Students often develop negotiation and diplomacy skills, crucial for roles in international relations, conflict resolution, and diplomatic services.
  • Leadership Skills
    Leadership qualities are honed through seminar discussions, group projects, and completing a thesis or capstone project.
  • Adaptability
    Political Science programs expose students to diverse topics, enabling them to adapt to new information, perspectives, and changing political landscapes.
  • Ethical Reasoning
    Graduates develop a strong understanding of ethical considerations in political decision-making and policy formulation.
  • Public Speaking
    Many programs involve presentations and seminar discussions, enhancing public speaking skills, which is valuable for advocacy, government, and public affairs roles.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
    Group projects and collaborative research initiatives foster teamwork skills essential for various professional settings.
  • Time Management
    Balancing coursework, research, and potential work commitments enhance time management skills, crucial for meeting deadlines and prioritizing tasks.
  • Cultural Competence
    Studying comparative politics and international relations fosters cultural competence, allowing individuals to navigate diverse cultural and political contexts.

Online Masters in Political Science Degree Types

Knowledge of political science gives students a better understanding of political situations and political life at their country, neighborhood, and global level. This subject’s study can be attained through two main degree types – MA Political Science, also known as Master of Arts in Political Science, and MS Political Science, known as Master of Science in Political Science. Selecting either of the degrees gives a better outreach in the job market.

MA Political Science

The Master of Arts in Political Science (MA in Political Science) is a comprehensive, two-year program that delves into advanced topics within the field. The curriculum offers a well-rounded education covering political theory, comparative politics, international relations, and research methods. The program typically culminates in a thesis or comprehensive exam, emphasizing independent research and analysis. Graduates are well-prepared for diverse career paths, including academia, government, international organizations, and policy analysis.

MS Political Science

MS in Political Science programs also aims to equip graduates with practical skills, including policy analysis, critical thinking, and effective communication. They are prepared for various career paths, including roles in academia, research institutions, government agencies, international organizations, and private-sector organizations where a strong understanding of political dynamics is essential. It suits those seeking a research-oriented and analytically rigorous approach to studying politics.

Specializations in Masters in Political Science Programs

Most master’s programs have concentrations that help students learn and understand the subject better. These specializations are available on various topics, and according to their interest, they can add them to their master’s in political science. One can choose among the following specializations while pursuing a political science master’s:

SpecializationDescriptionPotential Careers
International RelationsThis specialization helps one better understand global interactions, exploring international law and global security issues. One will also analyze past and present global dynamics.Diplomat, International Relations Specialist, Foreign Service Officer, Global Analyst, and more.
Comparative PoliticsAn interdisciplinary study of political configurations worldwide, offering insights into the critical analysis of contemporary democracies and the challenges they face.Political Analyst, Policy Researcher, Government Consultant, Academic Researcher, etc. 
GeopoliticsThis specialization helps one concentrate on global ideological, economic, socio-cultural, and demographic changes affecting politics. Students analyze how geography influences political dynamics.Geopolitical Analyst, Strategic Intelligence Specialist, Risk Analyst, International Relations Consultant, and more.
Political TheoryThrough this specialization, one will explore, interpret, critique, and construct analyses on political topics such as politics, law, policymaking, and liberty. They delve into the philosophical underpinnings of political thought.Political Theorist, Researcher, Policy Advisor, Academic Professor, etc. 
Public PolicyThrough this specialization, one develops a comprehensive understanding of economic, political, and social factors through qualitative analysis. One explores policymaking processes and their impact on society.Policy Analyst, Government Advisor, Non-profit Manager, Legislative Assistant, and more.
Development StudiesThis concentration helps one gain insights into the evolution of the developing world, exploring cultural, political, geographical, and other factors shaping the current political landscape in these regions.Development Consultant, International Aid Worker, NGO Program Manager, Researcher in Development Organizations, etc. 

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Political Science Programs

To pursue a Master’s in Political Science, graduates complete 34 to 45 credits. Usually, the timeline for earning a master’s degree differs from program to program. However, any master’s program for a full-time, on average, takes about two years to complete. At the same time, part-timers would take a minimum of three to four years. One can also opt for universities that offer fast-track programs that allow one to finish the program in shorter periods.

One Year Political Science Masters Programs Online

An accelerated Master’s in Political Science program is designed to allow students to complete their graduate studies in a shorter timeframe than the traditional two-year programs. These programs often involve a more concentrated curriculum and intense coursework and sometimes require a strong foundation in the field. Some universities that offer accelerated graduate degrees in political science programs include:

Online Masters in Political Science Programs Admission Requirements

It is a must to know the admission requirements before applying for any master’s program. While these admission requirements might differ across various universities, there are certain common ones. Here are the typical admission requirements for masters in political science online programs:

  • Transcripts of all graduate and undergraduate courses
  • Application form and fees
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in the undergraduate degree

Accreditation for Online Masters in Political Science Programs

When pursuing a Master’s in Political Science, it is crucial to prioritize institutions and programs that hold accreditation from recognized accrediting bodies. While specific programmatic accreditation for political science may not always be applicable, the overall reputation of the university’s social sciences or political science department is significant. Universities are typically regionally accredited by one of six regional accrediting bodies:

Prospective students should verify the accreditation status of their chosen program through official channels, such as the U.S. Department of Education[7] or the  Council for Higher Education Accreditation[8] to ensure a quality education and broader recognition of their degree.

Online Masters in Political Science No GRE Programs

GRE scores are considered a mandatory admission requirement by many universities. Still, a few welcome students without GRE scores and offer political science graduate programs that do not require these scores. If they want to pursue a Political Science program without GRE scores, then applying to the following universities will be the right choice. Here are a few online masters in political science no GRE programs:

Free Political Science Courses Online

Many students want to test political science’s waters before leaping into online master’s in political science programs. Many free online political science courses offer a preview of what the field of political science looks like. Here are some free online courses to explore:

CourseU.S. Political Institutions: Congress, Presidency, Courts, and Bureaucracy[13]
Provided byHarvard University
DescriptionThis course thoroughly explores the foundational elements that shape the American political landscape. Participants delve into the intricacies of legislative processes, committee functions, and its members’ multifaceted roles and powers. Examining the Presidency encompasses an analysis of executive powers, decision-making processes, and the intricate relationship between the President and other branches of government.
CourseAmerican Political Thought[14]
Provided byMIT OpenCourseWare
DescriptionThe course provides an in-depth exploration of the philosophical foundations and intellectual traditions that have shaped the political discourse in the United States. It delves into the key ideas, debates, and influential thinkers who have contributed to the development of American political thinking.
CourseMoral Foundations of Politics [15]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionThe course explores the ethical principles, theories, and philosophical frameworks that underpin political decisions, structures, and institutions. It delves into the intersection of morality and politics to give students a deep understanding of the ethical considerations inherent in political thought and action.

How to Pay for Master’s in Political Science Online Programs

The Master’s in Political Science online program helps students thrive in political science and enhances their careers. However, funding an online master’s in political science is always a challenge, just like any other higher educational degree. Here are some ways to fund higher education:


Scholarships are typically awarded as stipends to commendable students in acknowledgment of their academic accomplishments. While various scholarships are available, many are contingent on academic excellence or showcase of unique talents and skills in areas such as music, art, or sports. Scholarship administrators often consider multiple criteria when determining both the size of the scholarship and the deserving recipient. Factors like grades, test scores, and engagement in extracurricular and leadership activities may influence the amount granted in scholarships. 


Grants are typically allocated based on a student’s financial need rather than merit or academic accomplishments, with various grants serving specific purposes. Non-profits, foundations, and the federal government commonly extend grants to individuals facing economic challenges, those with disabilities, or members of particular communities. These grants cover diverse educational expenses such as graduate housing, transportation, books, library fees, and research materials.


Work-study programs, federally funded, offer students the opportunity to secure part-time employment while pursuing their education, allowing them to earn concurrently. Many educational institutions provide work-study positions accessible through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships, often as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), involve students assisting in classrooms while receiving financial aid. GTAs typically commit to required weekly hours and receive compensation through a monthly stipend or hourly rate, with these assistantships constituting full-time work during academic quarters, trimesters, or semesters.

Student Loans

Unlike scholarships or grants that don’t require repayment, loans come with the obligation to repay the borrowed amount and interest. While loans offer benefits, they necessitate careful consideration due to the potential for long repayment periods and the risk of accumulating significant debt if repayments are defaulted.

FAFSA [16]

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a standardized form that applicants complete to determine their eligibility for financial aid. It acts as a gateway for accessing various financial assistance programs.

Scholarships for Masters in Political Science Students

From the many scholarships available to political science graduate students, here are a few examples:

Ashbrook Scholar Program [17]

This scholarship is awarded to merit students interested in studying politics and history. 

Amount – $2,000

GwCF National Scholarship Competition[18]

This scholarship competition is open to students interested in pursuing a service career in the US. 

Amount – $5,000

Political Leadership Scholarship[19]

The Political Leadership scholarship is granted mainly to LGBTQ students and low-income and first-generation college graduates of the color group. 

Amount – $12,000

Kalous Opportunity Scholarship[20]

Individuals who display academic achievement and require financial aid are offered this scholarship. 

Amount – $3,000

Careers and Salary Outlook for Political Science Master’s Graduates

Political Science analyzes political behavior, governance, administration, civil service, and running public policy affecting millions of people. But political science professionals also study history, economic policies, and other concepts like how government operates, how the laws are created, and much more. This knowledge acquired through an online master’s in political science helps to apply for various career roles and titles. 

Graduates with a degree in Political Science have diverse career options spanning various sectors. The analytical, research, and communication skills developed during their studies equip them for roles in government, international organizations, non-profits, academia, and the private sector. Here are some career paths for individuals with a graduate degree in Political Science:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Political Consultant
  • Diplomat/Foreign Service Officer
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Non-profit Organization Manager
  • Political Scientist/Researcher
  • Legislative Assistant
  • International Development Specialist
  • Journalist/Political Reporter
  • Attorney/Legal Consultant
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • International Relations Specialist
  • Urban Planner
  • Academic/Professor
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Human Resources Specialist

Some occupations that graduates of political science programs can pursue include:

OccupationPolitical Scientist [21]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, creativity, and critical-thinking skills. 
Median Annual Salary$128,020
Job Growth (up to 2032)7% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionPolitical scientists play a crucial role in delving into and comprehending the complexities of political systems and global relations. Their extensive research spans a range of political topics, encompassing in-depth studies of the U.S. political system. Utilizing data gathered from public opinion surveys, they employ informed analyses. They also closely monitor contemporary events, policy choices, and pertinent issues. 
OccupationUrban and Regional Planners [22]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, decision-making, and leadership skills. 
Median Annual Salary$79,540
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as the average)
Job DescriptionUrban and regional planners are crucial in guiding community development and land use. Engaging with a diverse set of stakeholders, including public officials and developers, they facilitate discussions on development plans. Tasked with implementing government policies affecting land use, planners analyze extensive data from market research, censuses, and environmental studies.
OccupationPublic Relations Specialists [23]
SkillsAnalytical, interpersonal, excellent communication, strategic thinking, adaptability, and creativity.
Median Annual Salary$67,440
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionPublic relations specialists are instrumental in cultivating seamless communication between organizations and the public, focusing on accurate information dissemination and maintaining a positive public image. These professionals strategically formulate and execute communication strategies, ensuring the effective conveyance of information to the public and other stakeholders. 
OccupationMarket Research Analysts [24]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, critical thinking, and detail-oriented skills. 
Median Annual Salary$68,230
Job Growth (up to 2032)13% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionMarket research analysts play a crucial role in conscientiously tracking and predicting trends in marketing and sales. Their contribution to the triumph of marketing programs and strategies lies in their meticulous assessment of effectiveness and identifying areas for enhancement. Employing diverse data collection methods like surveys and questionnaires, market research analysts extract valuable insights into consumer behavior, competitor activities, and prevailing market conditions.

Certifications and Licensing for Political Science Master’s Graduates

There are no specific certifications or licensing requirements for individuals with a master’s degree in Political Science. However, it’s essential to note that Political Science is broad and specific career paths within this field may have their own certification or licensing requirements. Here are some potential certifications that graduates in Political Science can consider:

Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) [25]

The CNP is relevant for those interested in working in nonprofit organizations. Offered by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, this certification demonstrates expertise in nonprofit management.

Certified Public Manager (CPM) [26]

Suitable for professionals in public administration, including those working in government agencies. The CPM designation signifies excellence in public management.

Project Management Professional (PMP) [27] 

Valuable for individuals involved in policy analysis, research, or project management. Offered by the Project Management Institute, PMP certification is widely recognized in various industries.

Certification in Public Policy (CPP) [28]

Institutions or organizations focusing on public policy may offer the CPP for those engaged in policy analysis and development.

Additional Resources for Political Science Professionals

Getting an online master’s degree in political science is a great way to provide upward mobility for one’s career. However, students would need to stay in contact with the political science field by networking with their peers and associating themselves with professional associations and organizations in this field. This will help them network with this industry and help them with the latest events and open career options. Associations, organizations, networking, and exhibitions allow them to meet people from the same subject and experience, helping them better understand and network. Here are some resources that would help graduates:

  1. Pi Sigma Alpha [29]
    This is a society for Political science graduates and enthusiasts looking for a career in Politics and administration.
  2. American Political Science Association [30] 
    APSA is the leading professional organization for studying political science and serves more than 11,000 members in more than 100 countries.
  3. International Political Science Association [31] 
    IPSA was founded under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). IPSA is an association that supports the development of political science globally.
  4. United Nations Public Administration Network [32]
    UNPAN is a global network that connects relevant international, regional, subregional, and national institutions and experts worldwide working on effective governance and public administration.
  5. Western Political Science Association WPSA [33] 
    This association has more than 1250 political scientists conducting meetings, fostering research, and facilitating public affairs discussions.

FAQs About Master’s in Political Science Online Programs

What career opportunities are available with a Master’s in Political Science?

Completing a Master’s in Political Science opens various career opportunities, particularly in government, public policy, administration, and operations. Graduates may pursue civil service, policy analysis, international relations, and diplomatic service roles.

Is pursuing a Master’s in Political Science worth it?

What are the potential outcomes after completing an MA in Political Science?

Can a Master’s in Political Science be pursued online?

Is work experience required for admission to Master’s in Political Science programs?

Can a Master’s in Political Science lead to a Ph.D. or a career in academia?