Students can find fully online bachelor's and master's degree programs in this field at a number of institutions, many of which are public four-year universities. Bachelor's-level programs are designed to give students broad knowledge of governmental functions and political perspectives that could be useful for entry-level careers or further graduate study.
Those seeking a graduate degree may already have some background in political science and desire advanced knowledge. Graduate students may specialize in international relations, comparative politics, or political theory.
Distance learning degree programs in political science usually feature completely online coursework and have no on-site requirements. Students attend lectures electronically and participate in group discussions through instant messaging software, video conferencing and other methods. In addition, distance learning students have electronic access to library materials and student support services. That said, online students may not have access to as many on-campus political special events or field opportunities that traditional students do.
Bachelor's Degree in Political Science
Schools offering undergraduate programs in this area of study may not have any strict admission requirements beyond a high school diploma or GED and perhaps placement test scores. Similar to traditional classroom-based political science programs, distance learning programs offer a four-year format for a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Depending on the program, students may be required to choose a concentration, such as international relations, American politics, political theory or comparative politics.
Along with the major coursework, distance learning students must complete general education requirements. Online political science courses may include:
- Politics and the media
- American presidential politics
- Introduction to international relations
- Classic political thought
- International development politics and policy
Master's Degree Requirements
Applicants to graduate-level programs may have to provide recommendation letters and GRE scores, along with evidence of having earned a bachelor's degree. Schools could require that prospective students have completed an undergraduate major, or at least significant course credits, in political science.
Online graduate candidates may be required to specialize in urban politics, world politics, international relations or another related area. An online master's degree in political science can generally be completed in two years, and both thesis and non-thesis programs are available.
Sample graduate classes may include:
- Alternative perspectives in political theory
- Communist and post-Communist systems
- Public policy analysis
- Politics of developing areas
- Constitutionalism in theory and practice.
Those who earn a political science bachelor's degree will be eligible for a range of jobs, including sales representative, research assistant, management trainee or market analyst.
Master's-level programs provide advanced theoretical knowledge and research skills that can be useful for a career as an educator or political scientist who analyzes the mechanisms of political systems and public policy.
Political science programs are available entirely online at the bachelor's and master's levels with the use of electronic lectures, online discussion boards, and video conferences. Bachelor's students focus on government function and political views, whereas master's students normally specialize in a topic such as international relations, urban politics and more.