Online Associates Degree in Political Science: Program Info

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

Online associate's degree programs in political science are rare to nonexistent, but political science can be studied through online liberal arts and humanities associate's degree programs. Students will need Microsoft Windows XP or Apple Mac OS X, a word processor, Flash Player and PDF reading software. A web camera, headset and microphone or speakers will also be required.

At the bachelor's degree level, online political science programs are available. Some political science positions are available with a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree or a Ph.D. is required for many political science careers. Both degree levels may include optional internships.

Associate Degrees in Political Science

Though associate degrees in political science are not commonly found online, online degrees in liberal arts and humanities allow students to complete general education requirements and concentrate their elective studies in political science. These programs may allow for transfer to other institutions so students can complete a bachelor's degree with a full major in political science.

Program Information and Requirements

Humanities and liberal arts associate degree programs generally take about two years to complete; they include foundational coursework in English, mathematics, science and social science. In these programs, students are often allowed to select which social science area to study, including political science. Students in these programs may be able to complete internships with state and local government entities.

Coursework in these online programs may be taught through a purely asynchronous Web delivery or through live Web-based conferencing. Because of this, students must meet certain technical requirements, including a high-speed Internet connection and a recent operating system like Microsoft Windows XP or Apple Mac OS X. Suggested Internet browsers usually include Internet Explorer version 7, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. Students also usually need a Web camera, headset with microphone or set of working speakers to participate in Web-based conferencing. Other standard requirements include working e-mail, word processing software and PDF reading capabilities.

Common Courses

Political science coursework covers topics like political theory, conflict resolution and global politics. Students explore the differences between political systems in different countries and the history of political systems in this degree program.

Comparative Politics

This course compares and contrasts several nation-states in different regions of the world. From economic and political patterns to economic and political development, individuals learn how governments in the United States and foreign countries address these issues and challenges. Students learn how history and geography play a role in political issues as well.

U.S.-Native American Relations

Students in this course discuss issues and conflicts between the United States government and Native Americans; they analyze political policies that affect Native Americans. Topics of discussion include land claims, poverty, environmental policies and religious freedom as they apply to Native Americans.

Women in Politics

From the United States to less-developed countries, this course explores the role that women have in shaping politics. Movements for suffrage and equal rights, women as members of political parties, legislative bodies and executives are all topics included in this course. Women's policy-making power is also a topic of discussion.

Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science

Careers in political science-related fields tend to require a bachelor's degree, which can be earned online. A bachelor's degree in political science prepares individuals for some entry-level positions in research, law or public service. These degrees include general education requirements in addition to political science-specific courses.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's degree programs in political science generally take four years to complete and require completion of about 120 semester credit hours or 180 quarter credit hours. Students may be required to complete an internship, which cannot be completed online. If textbooks or other materials are required in addition to materials transmitted online, students will be notified before class starts, perhaps via information in class schedules.

In many cases, students in these programs communicate with professors and other students via an electronic discussion board, or e-mail. Students may be required to sign up for an e-mail account through the school they are attending. Schools usually recommend that students have a high-speed Internet connection and software programs for media like Flash Player or QuickTime.

Common Courses

Political science bachelor's degree programs typically include courses in psychology, statistics and government. Students examine political documents, study governmental systems and learn research methods for political scientists.

Introduction to Politics

Students learn the concepts behind analysis of politics, political ideologies and the scope of political science. Political parties, representation of public interests and the various branches of government are topics of discussion in this course.

Introduction to Government

In this introductory course, students learn about the origins of various government systems, including the U.S. federal government. The responsibilities and structures of state and local governments are explored. In some cases, several courses may cover this information in differing areas, like state and local government or American government.


In courses on statistics, students learn to collect and organize information, study theory, probability and probability distributions. Students learn to present and evaluate data according to protocols and learn about descriptive and inferential statistics. This information may be divided into multiple courses.

Political Philosophy

Political philosophy courses generally focus on western political thought throughout history, starting with the classical period and extending to the modern era. In some cases, political philosophy is presented across several classes, and may be separated by geography or time period.

Environmental Politics

The issues and ethics of environmental laws and regulations are considered in these classes. The topic of environmental politics may be presented as one class, or may be split into two courses, one covering domestic issues, and one focusing on international environmental policy.

Career Information

According to the College Board (, a degree in political science can prepare students for a variety of career paths, including journalism, public advocacy, community organizing, law and public service. The College Board says that political scientists are often employed by non-profit organizations, public think tanks and businesses. Political science majors might also be interested in pursuing an academic career in research, teaching, writing or lecturing.

Although the word 'political' is included in the discipline name, political scientists are not necessarily politicians. Politicians can come from a variety of backgrounds and are elected or appointed to government positions in city, county, congressional district, state or national elections. Political scientists may end up serving as politicians if they decide to run for a political position and are elected, but this is not always the case.

As of May 2018, 5,660 individuals were employed as political scientists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the same year, those individuals earned a median annual salary of $117,570 (

Continuing Education

Individuals can prepare for higher-level political science jobs with a master's degree in political science, or a Master of Public Administration. These degree programs are available online or in traditional classrooms and may be completed in as little as two years. Doctoral degrees in political science are also available for those interested in research and writing or teaching at the university level.

Online associate programs in political science are very rare; related courses addressing governmental systems, political conflicts and movements can be found in online liberal arts and humanities programs. Bachelor's programs in political science are more commonly found in an online format.

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