Political science is the foundation of many different careers, including ones in government, public administration, and law. An online political science degree is an excellent path forward for anyone interested in politics and public administration.
The online dimension to the degree makes it a very flexible option. Many colleges and universities offer online degrees to enable students to pursue their degrees virtually. Online students often work full-time and pursue their degree part-time. Online degrees in political science give you the added flexibility of being able to do your coursework whenever you want.
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There are several different online political science degree options. An online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is the most common and most popular since it prepares students for higher-level jobs. That said, you can definitely start out by pursuing an Associate Degree in Political Science. With an associate degree, you can access entry-level positions. Most students interested in politics and the public sector will opt to complete their bachelor of arts so they can directly access higher-level positions from the get-go.
As you begin your school search process for degrees in political science, there are a few factors you should consider. First, make sure your school offers a program with enough flexibility and make sure it is regionally accredited. Next, look into the program’s history, structure, and satisfaction rates among current and past students. Finally, it’s always a good idea to find out what students have done after graduation. Are they working in the kinds of jobs you want to work in? What percentage of students are employed? The answers to these questions will help you understand the post-graduate outcomes for these degree programs.
What Is Political Science?
Political science is a social science that can be studied at both the theoretical and practical levels. Put simply, it is the study of government systems and politics at the local, state, national, and international levels. Some areas of political science include American government and politics, comparative government, political theory, and international relations.
Political science majors usually have several concentrations or specializations to choose from at the bachelor’s degree level. If you are interested in American politics only, you can focus on the complexities of local, state, and national governmental systems. If you are more interested in international politics, comparative government or international relations would be appropriate areas of study.
Students that specialize in political theory are usually interested in philosophy and in really focusing on their critical thinking and reasoning skills. Political theory is often a good entry point into law since it requires the same kind of logic and theorizing needed to do well on law school entrance exams.
Let’s now delve into the available programs at each degree level.
Online Associate Degree in Political Science
An associate degree is a foundational degree for any social science subject like political science. If you are interested in starting your career off in an entry-level position as a legal assistant, regional planner, or government clerk, you could start out by earning an associate degree. However, if you want to advance your career quickly, you will likely have to go back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Best Online Associate Degree in Political Science Programs
The most important thing to look for when researching online associate degree programs in political science is accreditation. It is a good bet to focus on schools that have both traditional and online program offerings. Some online-only colleges are also accredited, but be sure to do your research. Some top programs include:
Online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
A Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is your best option for getting a solid foundation in the field. Prospective students in political science should consider what kind of career they want to pursue. If you want to pursue a career in government and politics, your best bet is to get a bachelor’s degree right away.
This way, you will have access to more advanced starting positions so you can jump into the field right away. If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, you will definitely need to complete a bachelor’s degree before applying to law school. Academic advisors who counsel pre-law students often recommend a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science as a solid preparation degree for law school.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science Programs
University of Central Florida
This online program is great for anyone looking for a top program at a Florida public school. Students can focus on national politics, international relations, and methods in political science.
Arizona State University
ASU has one of the largest catalogs of top online program offerings in the country. Its online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is a 120-credit program that helps students link theory to practice
Oregon State University
This fully online program focuses on helping students develop strong critical thinking skills so they can interpret political news and policy effectively. OSU is consistently ranked as offering one of the top online liberal arts programs in the country.
Indiana’s flagship university offers a top online degree in political science that requires 15 political science core classes and 21 advanced credit courses. Students will take courses in constitutional law, political philosophy, and national politics.
University of Maine
This program is run through Maine’s flagship campus in Orono and through UMaineOnline. The program encourages students to double major or specialize in related fields like labor studies, legal studies, or leadership studies.
Online Master’s Degree in Political Science
An online Master’s Degree in Political Science is a great option if you have big ambitions in government or in the political science sphere. Students usually pursue this degree after several years of work experience in the field. You might realize after several years in government that you want to specialize in a particular aspect of the field, whether it’s in political campaigning, national politics, or advocacy work.
The most basic requirement for a Master’s Degree in Political Science program is a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science or a related field. Some programs prefer students with professional experience to students applying straight out of bachelor’s degree programs. Many master’s programs require the GRE exam as part of the application process, although many online programs waive the requirement. Be sure to double-check this with each online program you consider.
Best Online Master’s Degree in Political Science Programs
This is an excellent option for students looking for a solid program at a top public university in Virginia. The online program has the exact same courses as the in-person one. Classes are pre-recorded for ultimate flexibility.
Georgia State University
Georgia State online offers a Master of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in professional politics. The program helps students build skills to pursue a career in public service and politics.
University of Illinois Springfield
This online Master’s Degree in Political Science is an excellent option for students interested in pursuing public office, becoming educators, those interested in public law, or those considering a doctorate in political science.
Careers in Political Science
There are many career tracks for those who study political science. In fact, many students who study political science choose to pursue careers beyond politics. This is because a political science degree gives students analytical and rhetorical skills they can apply to any field.
You could pursue a career in politics at the local, state, or national level; work in the private sector as a researcher or analyst; or you could pursue a law degree and become a lawyer. Here is a short list of some career options in political science:
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- Policy Analyst
- Legislative Assistant
- Public Relations Official
- Political Journalist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a political scientist with a master’s degree earns a median annual salary of $122,220. Job opportunities in political science are growing at an average overall rate of five percent.
Political science is one of the most versatile degrees you can pursue. It prepares you for a career in the public sector if you want to run for public office, work as a lobbyist, or work in political campaigning.
It also prepares you for a career in the private sector if you want to work as a political consultant or public relations professional. Finally, it is also a very popular bachelor of arts degree option for students interested in eventually going to law school. Political science teaches important foundational skills in critical thinking, rhetoric, and logic that are crucial to success in law school.
If you’re thinking about getting a degree in political science but are worried about time, money, and flexibility, an online program is a great way to get started. Review this guide as a jumping-off point as you consider all of the exciting possibilities.
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