BA in Political Science: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

Political science majors study the measure of the impact of public policy on communities, analyze election results, and study current events.

Students take courses that range from political theory to U.S. and global foreign policy and environmental politics.

The political science program focus on developing students’ analytical, writing, and research skills to prepare students in various growing political fields.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that entry-level positions for political science graduates are expected to increase by 23% by 2026.

What Will I Learn in a Political Science Degree Program?

Political science degrees allow students to craft their program around career goals and interests, with opportunities to concentrate or minor in specific areas like domestic and international politics and foreign policy.

Each school has different graduation requirements, so candidates must research the concentration options, program length, and cost.

A typical political science curriculum covers the following areas:

Introduction to Political Science

This introductory course offers an overview of government and politics, emphasizing political science, current events, and contemporary politics.

These courses require detailed research and sources such as government documents, newspaper articles, and books.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy courses cover diplomacy history, war, and foreign policy, emphasizing the U.S. and global relationship between 1900 and today.

Major conflicts like 9/11, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and World War II are examined from a foreign policy lens.

Political Theory

Political theory classes study the evolving philosophy and theory of government and politics, including thought leaders like Lock, Kant, and Machiavelli.

Classes also comprise recent political theories and how they apply to various political environments.

The most common concentrations include:

American Politics

The American Politics concentration studies U.S. politics, public policy, and government from the colonial period to current.

The curriculum focuses on specific areas of American politics, like culture, diplomacy, and presidential politics.

The best positions for an American politics concentration include policy analyst, congressional aid, government jobs, or campaign researcher.

Comparative Politics

Comparative politics relates to the comparative method within national governments.

This includes comparative public policy, bilateral foreign policy, and government system development.

Students with this concentration may be asked to compare two countries or regions.

Those graduating with this concentration could become political scientists, political analysts, or get state department jobs.

Environmental Politics

Concentration in environmental politics allows students to examine the relationship between politics and environmental movements, including the evolution of environmental issues.

Students often focus on either how environmental politics impacts the U.S. or on a larger global scale.

Graduates with this concentration can seek positions with the EPA or various environmental organizations.

Global Politics

Global politics emphasizes the connectedness of modern politics.

This allows students to concentrate on a single region or country, such as studying China or the European Union.

The degree often involves international relations; some include a foreign language aspect.

Careers with this concentration include researchers, policy advisers, and state department jobs.

Public Policy

Those more interested in public policy study government policy development and its impact on the national and local communities.

Additionally, students may study federal policy from the legislative or executive branches or focus on local and state policy.

This concentration also comprises public policy outcomes.

Graduates can move into the political analyst, policy adviser, or legislative assistant fields.

How to Choose a Good Program

Selecting the right political science program to meet career goals requires considerable comprehensive research into schools and programs.

In addition, candidates must consider the time to complete the degree, location, and cost.

For example, some prospective students can relocate to another city or state to attend a specific program while others have family or work obligations where they cannot leave or may opt for an online program.

Since cost is a significant factor, it narrows many programs for candidates.

In-state tuitions are usually less expensive than out-of-state costs, so candidates must also consider this while researching financial aid, grant, and scholarship options.

Several factors, such as senior thesis and internship requirements, impact the degree completion time.

Transfer students reduce the time required by selecting a program that accepts transfer credits.

For this reason, many students take core classes at a community college and then transfer into a four-year program.

This option also saves money since community colleges have lower tuition than universities or colleges.

However, before taking this path, research the school’s transfer credit policy by discussing it with an admissions adviser.

Those who benefit from the flexibility of an online program, especially students with family commitments or working professionals, can find more options today than ever.

In addition, online programs benefit from completing the curriculum around other obligations, plus many colleges offer discounted online tuition.

Furthermore, one area to consider when researching programs is the school’s accreditation, which ensures the institution follows the highest educational standards.

Regional and national accreditations must meet specific licensing and certification standards, which benefit students eligible for financial aid and credit transfers. In addition, many graduate programs only accept students with an accredited degree.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in Political Science?

The standard length of any bachelor’s degree program is four years.

However, depending on the program’s requirements, such as having an internship, the program can be up to another year longer.

Many programs offer a BA/MA in political science, which means the degrees are integrated and can be earned in less time.

Finding a school and applying adds to the time, but these early steps should be completed when in high school.

All schools require an application, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and application fees.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in Political Science?

The total cost of a bachelor’s in political science varies greatly depending on financial aid opportunities and the institution of study.

Typically, in-state tuition is the least expensive option, with an average tuition rate of $10,000 per year.

Comparatively, out-of-state schools can cost over $25,000 per year, with private schools costing $35,000 per year or more.

It’s important to remember that tuition is only a segment of the total program cost.

Other expenses include books, housing, and commuting, which could add thousands of dollars annually.

Students can lower the cost by exploring grants, fellowships, and scholarships.

Also, bringing transfer credits can save thousands over the course of the entire program.

Completing core classes at a community college with an average tuition of $3,600 makes this an excellent option.

Students can complete general education, but it’s essential to ensure those credits can be transferred.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Political Science?

Graduates holding a B.A. in political science can pursue numerous career paths, including the following: analyst, researcher, legislative assistant, or other positions within the government and politics.

Some political science graduates pursue positions in the corporate sector as market research analysts.

Other areas include paralegal or legal assistant or becoming a political science or related field educator.

Additionally, earning a B.A. will allow graduates to apply for graduate school to further their knowledge in the field and become political scientists.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Political Science?

A BA in political science further develops analytical abilities, research, critical thinking, and other in-demand job skills required for graduates to succeed in various fields, including the nonprofit or corporate sector, government, and politics.

Most professional career paths require a bachelor’s degree, and a B.A. in political science helps graduates quickly find a job, advance, and increase their earning potential.

During the political science program, majors can select a contraction to further their skills in environmental politics, global politics, and foreign policy.

Many programs also assist students with gaining firsthand by requiring a final project or thesis or through an internship to build writing and research skills.

Additionally, most colleges and universities have a career services department to help students find a job post-graduation.

Before enrolling in a program, candidates must determine whether to complete the program in class, online, or as a hybrid.

In-class programs benefit those who want more of a college experience, while online programs cater to those who require flexibility in their studies.

Hybrid programs offer the best of both worlds.

Those wondering if earning a bachelor’s degree in political science is the right decision should first map out career plans and then take an introductory course to determine if it’s the right field.

If candidates are interested in entering government, politics, the law, or law enforcement, then earning a political science degree is the right first step.