Earning an Online Political Science Degree

If you have a passion for public service and a deep desire to improve our government, a career in political science may be for you. This guide provides an overview of the coursework associated with a political science degree and the career paths available to graduates. Those interested in earning a bachelor’s political science degree, or a even a traditional or online political science master’s degree, should note that the field is expected to shrink slightly — by two percent — through 2024. Online political science degree holders will face increasing competition for jobs in the field.

If, however, you’re intellectually curious, passionate, and highly analytical, you could thrive in a related career after you earn a political science degree online. Political scientists must also possess strong writing and communication skills, since they spend a lot of their time drafting reports, and should be talented critical thinkers.

Online Political Science Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $8,358 17.1% 2 years $22,880 $36,960 9.1%
Bachelor's $16,464 9.58% 4 years $48,651 $61,785 6%
Master's $16,300 17.1% 2 years $52,728 $75,000 5.1%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Political scientists must, at minimum, hold a traditional or online bachelor’s in political science. Most go on to also earn an online political science master’s or even a PhD. Alternatively, they may earn advanced degrees in a related field, like public administration or public policy. Generally, an advanced political science degree is necessary in order to advance in careers and to be published in the field.

Online Political Science Degrees

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Online Associate’s Degree in Political Science

Earning an associate degree in political science online is the first step toward a rewarding career in the field. Typically completed in two years, an associate’s political science degree costs about $8,000. After earning an associate degree, graduates may decide to apply their credits toward a bachelor’s political science degree; the flexibility of an online political science degree program means they may continue to work while advancing their education.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Communication and Composition, American Government and Politics, Introduction to Political Theory

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Political Science, American Government, Criminal Justice

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Administrative services manager, substitute teacher, clerk stenographer

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $86,110 for administrative services managers, $24,900 for substitute teachers, and $49,500 for clerk stenographers

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 8% increase for administrative services managers, 6% increase for substitute teachers, and 2% increase for clerk stenographers

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science

Usually taking four years to complete, a bachelor’s degree in political science online allows students to delve deep into the theories and practical applications of the field. Graduates of this degree can start their careers as research assistants or assistants for political campaigns or related political science organizations. A bachelor’s degree also prepares students for graduate-level study in the field.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Comparative Politics, Basic Statistics, Sex, Gender, and Culture

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Political Science, International Relations, Public Policy

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Market research analyst, high school teacher

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $62,150 for market research analysts and $57,200 for high school teachers

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 19% increase for market research analysts and 6% increase for high school teachers

Online Master’s Degree in Political Science

Most political scientists pursue an online master’s in political science degree after earning an undergraduate political science degree. A master’s typically takes two years to complete and costs around $16,000, but pays off with a higher average salary and lower unemployment rate. More varied employment opportunities are available to those who earn an advanced political science degree online or on campus.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Recent Continental Political Thought, Issues in Political Theory, Legislative Behavior and Institutions

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Political Science, Public Administration, Public Policy

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Survey researcher, economist, urban planner

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $53,920 for survey researchers, $99,180 for economists, and $68,220 for urban planners

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 12% increase for survey researchers, 6% increase for economists, and 6% increase for urban planners

Online Doctorate Degree in Political Science

After earning an advanced online political science degree, a small percent of degree holders will go on to earn the terminal degree in the political science field: the PhD. A PhD allows students to gain expert knowledge in a specialized field within political science, and may also prepare graduates for a career in academia. Earning a PhD in political science often takes six or more years, and many students are awarded grants to pursue the degree.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    History of Political Theory, Research & Writing, Quantitative Analysis

  • COMMON MAJORS

    DBA and PhD

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Political scientist and college professor

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $99,730 for political scientists and $72,470 for college professors

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 2% decline for political scientists and 13% increase for college professors

Online Political Science Choose Your Career

Average Political Science Salaries

$86,110
$99,730

Administrative Services Managers

Salary: $86,110
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
8% 287,300 Bachelor's N/A

An administrative service manager is in charge of making sure an organization runs smoothly by managing all supportive services. Common duties include managing records and databases, buying and distributing supplies, and monitoring facilities to make sure they’re safe and up to code. An online political science degree or related bachelor’s degree is typically sufficient to enter this career, though some can enter with an associate degree and related work experience. Successful administrative services managers possess strong leadership and organizational skills, important when managing a team.

Political Scientists

Salary: $99,730
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-2% 6,200 Masters CPS Certified Political Scientist

Though it’s an engaging career, the demand for political scientists is decreasing in the job market, making it potentially difficult to find work. However, mastering the skills needed in this position can feed into other careers. Political scientists use both the knowledge gained while earning a political science degree and their analytical skills to study how political systems form and work. They research both foreign and domestic political trends, collect and analyze data, and publish research results and political forecasts. A political scientist must be comfortable working with both words and numbers, since analyzing data and statistics — and then writing about findings — is a big part of the job.

Online Political Science Professional Requirements

CPS Certified Political Scientist

If you’ve got a four-year political science degree under your belt, as well as some advanced degree coursework and real world experience, you may qualify for certification through the Academy of Certified Political Analysts. The Academy provides certified members with continuing education opportunities, job search tools, and recognition for achieving public credentials. There’s no exam required — just an application.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

N/A