12 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Political Science

Want to understand how people pursue the common good, then political science may be the field for you. Here are Best Value Schools' 12 Best Online Master's Degrees in Political Science in 2020! 

The discipline of political science is concerned with the practice and theory of governing and of political discourse. Political scientists are concerned with implementing effective public policies, and the structural nature of the public institution's impact on society. Students of Political Science also study voting patterns along with political ideologies and psychology, or how public discourse unfolds around current public issues. Individuals with a Master's Degree in Political Science enter a variety of different careers, including policy analysis, public relations, campaign organizing, political consultation, or legislative assistance. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of all political scientists work for the federal government, though others work for state or local governments, and a smaller percentage are in the private sector. In general, the field is expected to grow at about 3% over the next decade, which is slower than the average growth for all occupations. However, the median pay is well above the average, at $117,570. So, if you are considering breaking into the field of political science, or you want to gain a credential that could open up new pathways in your current job, then check out our list of the 12 Best Online Master's Degrees in Political Science!

Selection Criteria

Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:

  • Degree Investment Return (25%)
  • Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
  • Cost Value (25%)
  • Matriculation (10%) 
  • Academic Success (15%) 

No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself! 

Here are the 12 Best Online Master's Degrees in Political Science for 2020!

12. St. Mary's University — San Antonio, TX

Master of Arts in International Relations 

Website

A Catholic liberal arts institution, St. Mary's University is located in downtown San Antonio, TX. The university's Department of International Studies and Global Affairs offers an online Master of Arts in International Relations. The program is interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from areas like history, law, geography, and political science to give students a holistic appreciation of international relations and how global realities can affect domestic policy decisions. 

The program offers two different concentration options with Security Policy and Sustainable Development. While the program does not offer a thesis option, St. Mary's students finish 36 credits with classes such as National Political Economy, Ethical Issues in International Relations, and International Relations Theory. Admission to St. Mary's requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.5 GPA, as well as GRE test scores. 

Net Price: $16,830
Score: 73.1

11. Liberty University — Lynchburg, VA

Master of Science in Political Science

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Liberty University is one of the largest institutions in the world because of its extensive online program. In 2013, Liberty had over 91,000 students enrolled online. Fast forward to 2019, and Liberty now provides an online Master of Science in Political Science comprised of 12 courses. Overall, the MSPS requires one and a half years to complete. Liberty's online program is focused on understanding political dynamics concerning policy construction, economics, geopolitics, and statesmanship. 

As a Christian institution, Liberty stresses an ethical framework regarding working in politics, and students can expect to take up to three classes involving ethics or global statesmanship. Courses in the program include Economics and Public Policy, Geopolitics and International Diplomacy, and Political Science, Public Policy, and Statesmanship. 

Net Price: $7,904
Score: 81.3

10. George Washington University — Washington, DC

Online Master's in Political Management

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George Washington University is a private research institution residing within the United State's capital of Washington, D.C. GWU offers an Online Master's in Political Management through the Graduate School of Political Management. The program stresses a bipartisan approach to considering political issues and dynamics and seeks to cultivate students who can move the dialogue forward and unite cultural differences.

GWU's Political Management degree differs from others in political science because it stresses praxis over theory. The program's residence within the Capitol is also beneficial to students, as the program draws on active political practitioners with established faculty to provide quality education. Students take core classes like Applied Political Communications and Political Data and Analytics, as well as courses in areas like electoral politics, advocacy, and applied proficiencies. There is also a residency requirement during the last term. 

Net Price: $30,780
Score: 81.6

9. Eastern Illinois University — Charleston, IL

Master of Arts in Political Science

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Eastern Illinois University is a state university an annual enrollment of over 7,000 students. EIU offers a Master of Arts in Political Science, which includes an option in Public Administration and Public Policy. The program can be completed in two semesters, and one summer and students take a mixture of required courses and electives in Public Administration, Public Policy, and Political Science. 

Classes in the program include Ideologies of the Developing World, State Governments and Policy in the U.S. Federal System, and Contemporary Political Theory. The program also allows interested students to gain credit for internships and offers graduate assistantships to qualified students. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.

Net Price: $7,176 in-state; $17,232 out-of-state
Score: 82.2 

8. Sul Ross State University — Alpine, TX

Master of Arts in Political Science

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A public university, Sul Ross State University is located in the small town of Alpine, in southwest Texas. The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences offers a Master of Arts in Political Science. The program is designed to help interested individuals pursue either academic or professional careers. All MAPS courses in the program are delivered online, although interested individuals can attend campus lectures in the evening, as well. Individuals can choose between a thesis or a non-thesis option. Students can choose between a thesis and a non-thesis option.

Courses in the program include Local Government Administration, Scope and Methods in Social Science, and Public Budgeting and Finance. There is also a comprehensive examination requirement for all students Admissions requires a bachelor's degree with at least four classes in either political science or history. There is limited funding for graduate assistantships, and students are encouraged to be in contact with the Political Science Department regarding possible scholarship opportunities. 

Net Price: $2,082 in-state; $8,943 out-of-state
Score: 82.7

7. American Public University — Charles Town, WV

Master of Arts in Political Science

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Based in Charles Town, WV, American Public University is a for-profit, private institution. APU offers an online Master of Arts in Political Science covering key theoretical issues in comparative politics, governmental theory, and foreign and domestic policy. The degree consists of 36 credits and generally takes two years to complete. 

Classes are generally one month long in duration and include topics such as Diversity in American Politics, International Relations Theory, and the U.S. presidency, Congress, & Bureaucracy. There are five different concentrations available for students to choose from, including American Politics and Government, Public Policy, and Comparative Government and Development. 

Net Price: $6,300
Score: 89.2

6. Sam Houston State University — Huntsville, TX

Master of Arts in Political Science

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Located in Huntsville, TX, Sam Houston State University is a public university with an annual enrollment of over 21,000 students, and now offers a Master of Arts in Political Science online. The program is broadly designed for individuals who have just graduated or who are interested in gaining deeper knowledge in the field to further their career. The program offers a thesis and non-thesis option, and there are three different start dates. 

Courses in the program include American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Students who opt for the thesis option take ten courses, while students who go the non-thesis route wind up taking 12 courses. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students who have a lower GPA than the minimum can submit additional information like GRE scores, to be considered for admittance. 

Net Price: $5,540 in-state; $13,010 out-of-state
Score: 95.3

5. University of West Florida — Pensacola, FL

Master of Arts in Political Science Online

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Located in Pensacola in the panhandle of Florida, the University of West Florida is a public university. The Ruben O'D. Askew Department of Government offers a Master of Arts in Political Science Online. While the MAPS consists of 11 courses, there are two areas of concentration available, which include a general concentration in Political Science or Security and Diplomacy. 

Courses are delivered synchronously, which means that students are required to attend live lectures online. Thesis and non-thesis options are available, as well. Core classes in the program include Seminar in Political Theory, The Study of Politics, and Seminar in American Politics. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher, a writing sample, as well as GRE scores. 

Net Price: $7,088 in-state; $22,166 out-of-state
Score: 96.7

4. University of Illinois at Springfield — Springfield, IL

Master of Arts in Political Science

Website

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a small public research university located in the state Capitol. UIS offers a Master of Arts in Political Science online. The university designed its MAPS program especially for working professionals, as its courses are provided entirely online and taught by the same tenure track faculty within the residential program. 

The program features four areas of emphasis, including Political Theory, American National and State Politics, Public Law, and Comparative Politics/International Relations. Students can choose between a thesis, a comprehensive exam, or a case study as their capstone experience. Overall, the degree consists of ten courses, and admission requires a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0. 

Net Price: $8,550 in-state; $15,247 out-of-state
Score: 97.1

3. University of Nebraska at Omaha — Omaha, NE

Master of Science in Political Science

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A mid-sized public research university, the University of Nebraska at Omaha enrolls over 15,000 students annually. UNO offers a Master of Science in Political Science. The program is fully online and consists of 10 courses, and most classes are offered in an asynchronous format, which provides added flexibility. Online students take courses from the same professors who teach in the traditional program and have access to the same student services.

Classes in the program include Seminar in Constitutional Law, Seminar in Foreign Policy and National Security, and Seminar in American Government and Politics. While admission to the program does not require GRE scores, applicants must supply transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. In addition, all incoming international students must verify their proficiency in English. 

Net Price: $5,053 in-state; $14,125 out-of-state
Score: 97.4

2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — Blacksburg, VA

Master of Arts in Political Science

Website

Located in Blacksburg, VA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a large public research university. Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Arts in Political Science boasting an incredible 1.7:1 faculty-to-student ratio. The impressive ratio enables online students to receive individualized study plans from some of the most widely known and respected scholars in the field. 

The program is broad-based and aims to ground students in the theories and research methods appropriate to the field. Classes in the program include Alternative Perspectives in Political Theory, Collaborative Governance and Civil Society, and Contemporary American Foreign Policy. Admission to Virginia Tech's MAPS requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and offers four different start dates throughout the year. 

Net Price: $13,310 in-state; $26,825 out-of-state
Score: 99.5

1. Harvard University — Cambridge, MA

Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Government

Website

One of the most well-known institutions of higher learning in the world, Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university. The Harvard Extension School offers a Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Government degree online. The degree consists of 12 courses, and students can choose between a thesis or non-thesis option for their capstone experience. 

Courses in the program include International Conflict and Cooperation, Race, Film, and American Politics, and Saving Schools: History, Politics, and Policy in US Education. Admission does not require an application. Students take three courses, and if they pass the classes with a B or higher, then they are allowed to apply for official enrollment in the program. 

Net Price: $46,384
Score: 100