Political Science Graduate Programs with Course Summaries

Political science refers to the study of political systems and governments. A master's or doctoral degree in political science can prepare students for careers in government, law, education or politics.

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Essential Information

A student looking for a graduate level degree in the field of political science can apply to either a Master of Science program or a Master of Arts program. Master of Science programs are often more technical in nature, while Master of Arts programs may focus more on writing and communication. Doctoral programs in political science are usually designed for aspiring university professors, though research or bureaucratic positions may be attainable with a doctoral degree as well. Students will need to complete writing projects before completion of the program.

Requirements for enrollment include a bachelor's degree, GRE scores, and letter of recommendation. Examples of prior work may also be necessary.


Master of Science in Political Science

The Master of Science in Political Science degree program covers areas like international relations, statistics and government. Master's degree candidates pursuing this kind of degree are typically involved in political research. Applicants may come from a range of academic backgrounds. Students learn to analyze and research politics from multiple academic and real world perspectives. Some common course topics include:

  • Energy policy
  • Military operations
  • American foreign policy
  • Feminist political thoughts
  • Quantitative research methods

Master of Arts in Political Science

This type of master's degree typically involves less technical coursework than a Master of Science degree. Graduate courses in political science include a number of writing projects. Many programs require personal interviews with admissions officers or alumni. Students will engage in the study of communications, politics and history. Some common course topics include:

  • Public policy
  • Political theory
  • American politics
  • Comparative politics
  • International relations

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the most widely known terminal degree offered by colleges and universities in political science. Students pursuing a doctorate in political science are generally interested in academic careers. Many successful applicants have some kind of graduate degree. Admission to doctoral degree programs usually requires strong personal recommendations and an interview. Doctoral candidates engage in a comprehensive study of government, politics, statistical methods and international relations. Some common course topics include:

  • Monetary policy
  • Modern political theory
  • Public policy implementation
  • Political economy
  • Analysis of public and administrative data

Popular Career Options

A political science master's degree prepares graduates for a variety of jobs in fields related to political science or government. Some popular careers include:

  • Teacher
  • Researcher
  • Program analyst
  • Campaign manager
  • Government official

As holders of a terminal degree, students are prepared for upper-level jobs in academia and top-levels of government. Some popular careers include:

  • Professor
  • Bureaucrat
  • Policy analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Academic researcher

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The overall job prospects are good for individuals considering government careers. Potential areas of employment within government include public safety, health care and education. In addition to the federal government and 50 state governments, thousands of local and city governments provide services, such as public transportation, law enforcement and utilities. Jobs for political scientists are expected to see a 2 percent decrease from 2014 to 2024, and the median annual pay was $99,730 as of May 2015.

Political science master's degree programs are designed to educate students either in the sciences, which focuses on relations, statistics, and government, or in the arts, which focuses on communication, politics, and history. Doctoral degree programs focus on research to prepare students for academic careers.

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