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Best Political Science Colleges in the Nation (Graduate Level)

Read about the best political science colleges in the nation for graduate students. See what three top schools have to offer in terms of degree options and areas of specialization, and find a table that lists other schools in the United States that offer graduate studies in political science.

Graduate level political science programs are extremely common; however, only a few schools offer the best programs available to students. These top schools are spread out all over the country and are distinguished in various ways.

School Overviews

Here we will summarize the graduate political science programs at four high-ranking institutions, including two Ivy League schools. Individual programs can lead to a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Political Science.

The following schools were chosen by the 2013 U.S. News & World Report rankings as top schools that offer graduate programs in political science.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

School Highlight: Harvard offers specialized workshops and seminars in political science.

According to U.S. News & World Report in 2013, Harvard University's graduate program in political science ranked first in the nation. Harvard claims the largest endowment of any school in the world, and it is home to the oldest library collection in the United States. As one of the oldest schools of higher education in the United States, the graduate program introduces students to both traditional and modern political science.

Stanford University in Stanford, California

School Highlight: The political science program accepts only 12-15 new students each year.

Stanford University's graduate program in political science tied for the second spot among its peers, as designated by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Most individuals enrolled in the graduate political science program do so with the intention of teaching or conducting research at universities or colleges. The Ph.D. program consists of small graduate seminars that address research issues or analyze published works in the field of political science. Students can choose from among several areas of focus, including American politics, international relations and political theory.

Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

School Highlight: Students share and discuss their research in field seminars.

In 2013, Princeton was tied with Stanford for second place on U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate programs in political science. While the university does not offer a separate master's degree program in political science, a Ph.D. program is available. Graduate students can specialize in one of several areas, including political theory, public law, comparative politics and international relations. Degree requirements for the doctoral program include seminars, papers and completion of a dissertation. Ph.D. candidates are also required to lead discussion sessions for students in undergraduate political science courses.

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

School Highlight: The political science program is home to the Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

Northwestern University is consistently ranked as a top school for graduate-level political science studies. The university offers a Ph.D. in political science with a program that is designed to last five years. Northwestern University's political science program is unique in that it is home to the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, which supports and funds Northwestern graduate students in their field research. Students in this program benefit from a comprehensive education that allows for subfield training and an opportunity to work with leading scholars in political science.

Top Political Science Graduate Programs

Now let's discuss a few other schools that have top ranking political science graduate programs.

  • The University of Chicago also offers a top ranked graduate-level political science degree. Located in Chicago, Illinois, this school is distinguished because of workshops that offer students opportunities to discuss new research.
  • The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is another school that is consistently ranked as a top school for political science.
  • The graduate political science program at the University of North Carolina located in Chapel Hill is an exclusive top program where only approximately 15 students enter the program each year.
  • The University of Rochester, located in Rochester, New York, is a top political science graduate program due to its emphasis on quantitative analysis and statistical research methods used in the field.
  • The University of Wisconsin in Madison's graduate program has one of the best student to faculty ratios, allowing for individual student attention.
  • Lastly, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is a top school that boasts a large political science department of about 45 faculty members.

There are several schools that offer highly ranked graduate-level political science programs. Among the top choices are Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton, but many other schools across the country have distinguishing qualifications that consistently rank their programs at the top.

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