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Online Political Science Colleges: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online political science school. Get an overview of the program timelines, available degrees, and common online courses for this field of study.

Students interested in studying political science programs online should consider their career goals and personal time constraints to help them find the best program for them. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in political science are available online, and we discuss these programs and a few schools that offer them.

How to Decide on an Online Political Science Program

Students considering online political science schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Political science programs are available online through 4-year colleges and universities. When looking at school options, students should note that various political science degrees have different focuses for certain career paths. Working professionals should also look at programs with flexible schedules that are compatible with their lifestyles.

Career Focus and Degree Purpose

A political science degree can lead graduates in many different directions. Some wish to go into public service, while others want to study law. Some are simply looking for an intermediate step on the way to a higher degree. Different institutions design political science degrees to fit these and other objectives. Prospective students who wish to study political science should choose an online degree based on what their future plans are.

Flexibility and Time Constraints

Some online political science degree programs are designed with a more traditional student audience in mind and have a stricter class schedule that requires students to meet at a certain time every day or periodically throughout the week to take part in seminar classes. Other institutions' programs are created for working professionals who may not be able to meet at any particular time. Instead, they offer lectures and seminars by video format and allow students to discuss them asynchronously via class forums or message boards. Before enrolling in a program, students should ensure that it meets their needs, both in terms of flexibility and in terms of total time requirements.

Online Degree Options for Political Science

Bachelor of Science in Political Science

Students take classes that may include video recorded lectures, online message board discussion groups and real-time tutoring sessions with teachers via instant messenger, audio chat or video conferencing via webcams. Most programs take 3-4 years to complete. A bachelor's degree program in political science includes study in a wide variety of subjects such as:

  • Constitutional law
  • American government
  • Politics in history
  • Policy and implementation
  • International relations

Master of Science in Political Science

Students normally use Internet-based education software that combines e-mail, forums and instant messenger communication with real-time grading and online testing capabilities. They may be required to write a substantial thesis. Programs can generally be completed within two years. A master's program in political science may cover a range of topics, such as:

  • American history and politics
  • Political theory
  • Global politics
  • Systems of government
  • Policy implementation

Schools With Online Programs in Political Science

Arizona State University has an online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program that is taught by renowned faculty in the field. Students will study political theory, economics, current events and even a foreign language. The program totals 120 credits and students must maintain a 2.00 GPA in the major.

Oregon State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Each degree requires 180 credits and major courses include topics in international relations, environmental politics and more. Students also have the option to choose an online minor to pair with their degree.

Virginia Tech has an online Master of Arts in Political Science program that can also be taken on-campus or in an accelerated hybrid format. Students are required to complete a thesis and can choose from various electives that include topics in public policy analysis, electronic governance and U.S. foreign policy.

Online bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in political science, but vary greatly in the formatting and program objectives. Students need to consider how a program aligns with their career goals and schedule to choose a program that is best for them.

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