Your Complete Guide to

Master’s in Political Science

Online Masters Degree
on February 7, 2024

Why We Love It

  • Competitive Salary
  • Room for Advancement
  • Self-Fulfillment
  • Different Career Paths

* The Why We Love It section is solely based on the opinion of's Editorial Team. Any salary & growth research or estimates should be referenced further at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for your specific desired career.

What is a Master’s in Political Science?

Politics is everywhere.  It affects our food and water, our homes, our jobs, our ability to raise a family, and even our entertainment.  It permeates every aspect of our lives, whether we want to admit it or not.

As the famous Greek Pericles said, “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t have an interest in you.”  Politics is a complicated subject, but there are people who understand the science behind it.  You could be one of those people.

A master’s in political science can refer to a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degree, depending on the school and program.  One of these degrees can help you to understand the complex machinery of politics and government.

Political science (sometimes abbreviated “PoliSci” or called “politology”) is usually divided into several distinct topics, including:

  • Political Theory: This is the philosophy of government, including its legitimacy and concepts such as law, rights, and authority.
  • Public Administration: This has to do with the management of public programs, i.e., how politics interacts with citizens on an everyday basis.
  • Political Economy: This deals with how production and trade intersect with law and government.
  • Domestic Policy and Government: As opposed to foreign policy, this refers to activities and issues within a nation, such as healthcare, education, and taxes.
  • Comparative Politics: This takes a logical approach to exploring politics within a country.
    International Relations: This is the study of the relationships between political entities on a global level.

Other topics include public policy and political methodology.  Additionally, fields closely related to political science include history, economics, law, sociology, and journalism.

With a master’s education and expertise in the field, graduates end up with a comprehensive and extensive understanding of the political landscape and how it affects our society.

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What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Political Science?

Well, the answer to that question depends on what you want to do.

A political analyst explains concepts in layman’s terms, helping voters to make an informed decision.  A management analyst helps a company maximize its profits.  A public relations specialist helps a nonprofit organization deliver its message to a wider audience, allowing them to save more lives.

Additionally, COVID-19 has changed the political landscape for countries across the globe. World leaders had to battle challenges like never before.

Countries and people faced newer economic and social challenges and leaders had to take novel approaches to steer countries in these challenging times. People entering political science will find many opportunities to develop their skills and be exceptional leaders.

These are only a few examples. There are tons of possibilities. You get to choose what you’ll do, and you don’t have to know what that is right now.

A master’s degree in political science could give you the tools you need to do a wide variety of jobs, so you’re not committing to a career before you even finish your degree. Graduates find themselves surrounded by plenty of opportunities whether it is in the government, non-profit organizations, international relations, and similar fields.

Best Programs for a Master’s in Political Science

Here’s the best part: We’re going to give you the secrets to finding the best programs for adults, programs that could help you get your master’s in political science faster and with as few headaches as possible.

We know planning for college can be confusing, and is dedicated to helping you find the right path so that you can complete your master’s degree and start your new career as soon as possible.

Why We Love a Master’s Degree in Political Science

  • Competitive salary:  Politics is a lucrative field, and a master’s in political science could be your gateway to a top job in the field. No matter how the economy is doing, there is always a demand for experts in the field to work on matters of public policy and managing government affairs. Hence, making you always financially secure.
  • Room for advancement:  Politics isn’t going anywhere–and in fact, is expanding–so there’s always room for growth. This is true no matter how the world economy is doing. In fact, during challenging times, people with knowledge in the field are needed more and more for policy-making and long-term stability.
  • Self-fulfillment: A master’s in political science could be a great way for you to make a difference in your community and leave your mark on the world.
  • Different career paths:  Because political science encompasses such a broad array of topics, a master’s degree could be useful in a variety of jobs. You could find work in the field of law, international bodies, academia, and of course, the governments. And each one of these fields is equally interesting.

Online vs. Traditional Campus

Most people who think about going back to school and getting their master’s in political science never even get started. Getting a master’s degree can surely accelerate your career and open doors to new opportunities.

Not only are there various entrance hurdles like exams and application fees, but it’s also tough to make school work around your schedule. For individuals with work and personal commitments, it can get very challenging.

What if we told you there was a better way?

With adult-friendly schools, there is really no reason not to go back to school anymore.

So, what makes a school adult-friendly?

Here are a few key attributes:

  • Adult-friendly schools are totally online.  Online learning is best for busy adults, who have to balance their ongoing education with work, kids, and everything else that comes with being a grownup. Covid-19 paired with technological advancements has helped distance and online learning become mainstream. Online schools allow you to work college around your life, not the other way around.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer accelerated programs, with ongoing enrollment.  What’s better than getting your master’s in two years?  Getting it in fourteen months.  And with ongoing enrollment, you don’t have to wait until fall or spring to start on your new journey; many schools offer monthly enrollment periods, meaning you can start whenever it works for you.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer more support than traditional schools.  This includes but is not limited to, career services, making it easier for you to begin your new career.  Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re going back to school?

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Admissions Requirements for a Master’s in Political Science

So what’s stopping you from going to grad school?  You don’t even need to take the GRE. Yes, you read that right.

Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Many adult-friendly schools do not require GRE or entrance exams.  Online programs generally require only a bachelor’s degree to get started, and most do not require a bachelor’s in political science (though some may require that your degree is in a related field, or that you have completed some political science coursework).

Additionally, there are no application fees to worry about.  You start when you’re ready.

Master’s in Political Science Curriculum

As mentioned above, a master’s degree in political science will develop your knowledge in political theory, public administration, political economy, domestic policy and government, comparative politics, international relations, public policy, and/or political methodology.

These areas of knowledge are crucial to understanding politics, and they can help you in a wide variety of careers.

What Courses Will I Take in My Master’s Program?

While your curriculum will probably vary according to your school, concentration, and personal interest, some common courses could include:

  1. American Government: This could cover the history of the US government and its three branches, from the foundation built by the Constitution to modern political institutions.
  2. Contemporary Political Ideologies: Terms like conservative, liberal, progressive, and moderate get thrown around a lot these days, but it is important to understand their actual differences–and similarities.
  3. Foreign Policy: This would likely explore the United States foreign policy goals of not only protecting its interests abroad but also advancing democracy and human rights in other nations.
  4. Gender Politics: People’s gender identity–especially that of women in a patriarchal society–can greatly influence decision-making on all levels of government.
  5. Community Politics: National politics is widely covered by the media, but political action on a local level can be more effective than most people realize.
  6. Parties and Elections in the United States: Free elections are the most sacred part of our democracy, but the political parties have certainly made this concept more complex than it used to be.

Specializations and Concentrations

Depending on your school, you could have an opportunity to select a concentration within your major of political science–or receive a master’s degree in a more specific field under the umbrella of political science.

Options could include:

  • American Politics: This could be useful if you plan to specialize in the American political system in particular.
  • Comparative Politics: As touched on above, this applies logic (most commonly, John Stuart Mill’s comparative method) to politics within countries.
  • Political Analysis: Political issues, events, and themes must be analyzed, understood, and explained, and this methodology is more complex than ever.
  • Political Management: This may include important topics such as advocacy, lobbying, campaigning, fundraising, and polling.
  • Nonprofit Management: Campaigning, fundraising, and other political strategies are also important to nonprofits so that they can raise money to help people in need.
  • Political Economics: In today’s world, politics and economics are inextricable.  Policy impacts the production, distribution, and consumption of goods more than ever.

Master’s in Political Science Program Length

Most master’s programs in political science require between 30 and 45 credits to graduate.  Normally, a master’s program in political science takes anywhere from two to three years to complete.  An accelerated plan, however, could take closer to half that time.  This is where adult-friendly schools really shine.

They know their students have jobs, kids, and other obligations that make a traditional school schedule unrealistic. That’s why these schools provide programs that are flexible and allow students to complete their degrees at a faster pace.

This can be especially useful for working adults who are always managing their studies along with other work and family responsibilities.

The best adult-friendly schools make the process as convenient as possible, and they could get you into the workforce as fast as possible because they know that’s what adults want.

Choosing the Right University or College Master’s Program

Choosing the right school for you can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle.  Tuition costs, application fees, accreditation, enrollment windows, and entrance exams are just some of the variables to consider.

That’s why we created the Smartplan.  We want to help people go back to school, to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.

With our Smartplan, we make it easy for you to start on your path towards your master’s in political science.

Here are just some of the benefits of your Smartplan:

  • No application fees
  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • No entrance exams or testing
  • Faculty and professors who understand adults
  • Discounts and scholarships available
  • Open enrollment dates

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Potential Career Paths for Those With a Master’s in Political Science

What can you do with a master’s in political science?  What kind of salary can you expect?

Here are some common careers for master’s in political science holders, with salary data estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Public Relations Specialist: Image is everything, and specialists are needed to maintain a positive public image for people and organizations. You could make anywhere from $37,020 to $124,620 per year.
  • Management Analyst: This is someone who reduces costs, increases revenue, and improves efficiency for an organization. You could make anywhere from $50,190 to $163,760 per year.
  • Political Scientist: This person studies political subjects, collects and analyzes data, and develops political theories. You could make anywhere from $61,480 to $172,490 per year.
  • Paralegal: Lawyers and law offices need educated people working for them since lawyers are ultimately responsible for all of their work. You could make anywhere from $36,410 to $88,640 per year.
  • Economist: This is someone who applies economic theory to a variety of fields including education, public health, and development, often working for the government. You could make anywhere from $62,460 to $193,690 per year.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite careers, but a master’s in political science does provide you with broad skills to work in a variety of jobs, which will likely allow you to draw an excellent salary while making a difference in the world.

The best careers are those that pay well AND let you feel fulfilled by giving something back. And again, you don’t need to know right now which job you want.

Furthermore, you can always start your own business, work as a consultant, or even start writing for journals and newspapers. These are just some of the possibilities you can choose from.

Cost and Tuition

Cost and tuition vary from school to school, and you’ll want to speak with each of your prospective schools directly.  Fortunately, online schools are generally more affordable than their in-person counterparts.

Adult-friendly colleges understand that you want to save, and they could even help you with financial aid if you’re eligible. Moreover, online, flexible learning options help ease the financial burden even more by letting adults manage their jobs along with their studies.

During challenging times like the present, every kind of savings counts! Hence, you’ll definitely want to speak to a few schools, and can help you with that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I need to know what job I want before I start a master’s program?

A: No!  A master’s in political science could prepare you for a wide variety of careers.  You certainly don’t need to know what job you want today.

Q: Will I make more money with a master’s in political science?

A: That depends on a variety of factors.  But as you can see above in the “Best Jobs for Those With a Master’s in Political Science” section, your master’s degree could mean excellent earning potential.

Q: How long will I be in school?

A: That could depend on you, your current job, and any other obligations you might have.  A master’s program in political science could take anywhere from one to three years, but our Smartplan is designed to help you find the right degree for you, so you can finish as quickly as possible!

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Master’s in Political Science degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

Create Your Free SmartPlan

There are many ways to make college affordable and accessible.

That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

It’s free, and helps you find potential ways to save and tons of information about each school you’re considering

Think of it as your “college blueprint”, to help you instantly craft a path to your degree:

  • Which Colleges Match Your Needs
  • Ways You Could Save Time & Money
  • Free Courses You Could Take for Credit
  • Valuable Data and Insights on Each College
  • Detailed Steps You Should Take!

See what’s possible for you and generate a free plan within just a few minutes

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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