An online master’s in political science can prepare graduates for lucrative positions in a variety of different industries, including politics, law, education, and even business. Those who hold a graduate degree in political science are much more likely to receive top-paying positions in their respective fields. When choosing an online political science master’s degree, it’s important to consider factors besides cost. In order to determine the true value of such a program, prospective students should consider program features such as content customization options, scheduling, and course delivery, for instance. In this ranking, we examine the 8 top value online political science master’s degree programs.

Ranking Methodology
Awards and Recognition (Related to Political Science)
• National Level – 2 points
• Regional Level – 1 point
20-Year Net ROI
• Above 500,000 – 5 points
• Above 400,000 – 4 points
• Above 300,000 – 3 points
• Above 200,000—2 points
• Above 100,000—1 point
Customization Options
• Content Customizations (e.g. Concentrations and Specializations)—1 point
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid, Synchronous, etc.)—1 Point
Innovative Programs and/or Teaching Methods in Political Science – 1 point
Internship Opportunities in Political Science – 1 point
Scholarship Opportunities in Political Science – 1 point
Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
Wow Factor
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

Best Value Colleges for an Online Master’s in Political Science
To determine the best value online master’s in political science programs, our editors began with an initial pool of 15 schools. After identifying the 20-year ROI for each school, we then narrowed the pool to the 8 most promising offerings from a financial perspective. Finally, we visited each program’s website to apply the ranking methodology above. In cases where two or more schools received the same rating, graduate tuition and fees –as reported by College Navigator—were used to break the tie.

#8 – University of Southern Mississippi

Online MS in Political Science: International Development

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi online master's political science

Southern Mississippi University offers an online master’s in political science program that follows a prescribed curriculum.

Points: 3

The University of Southern Mississippi offers an online master’s in political science from its Department of Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs that emphasizes international development. The program can be completed entirely online and includes course offerings such as Political Theory: Plato to Machiavelli, Women and Politics, Comparative Foreign Policy, and The Politics of Taxing and Spending. Several subject-specific scholarships can be applied to this online political science master’s degree program.

Tuition & Fees: $7,200

#7 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online MS in Political Science

Manchester, New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University online master's political science

Southern New Hampshire University’s online master’s in political science program is fairly customizable.

Website
Points: 4

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online master’s in political science that explores not only political history, but also contemporary research. The 36-credit hour program is aligned with the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Principles for Graduate Education in Political Science and includes course titles such as Global Political Systems, Contemporary Political Thought, and Research and Analysis in Political Science. Four out of the 12 courses that make up the program are electives, meaning students can customize the curriculum to some extent.

Tuition & Fees: $18,810

#6 – University of West Florida

Online MA in Political Science

Pensacola, Florida

University of West Florida master's in political science online

The University of West Florida offers an online master’s in political science with an optional security and diplomacy track.

Website
Points: 4

The University of West Florida’s online master’s in political science offering features two tracks: generalist and security and diplomacy. While students in the security and diplomacy track must choose from relevant electives, students in the generalist track can opt to complete a thesis in lieu of 6 of their elective semester hours. Some core course titles include The Study of Politics, Political Science Research Methods, and Seminar in International Relations. While pursuing their master’s in political science online, students may also earn an online Civics Educator certificate.

Tuition & Fees: $9,062

#5 – East Carolina University

Online Master of Science in Security Studies

Greenville, North Carolina

East Carolina University master's in political science online

East Carolina University’s master’s in political science online program features four different areas of emphasis.

Website
Points: 4

East Carolina University’s online master’s in political science offering is technically a Master of Science in Security Studies. Enrolled students can choose to specialize in one of four areas of emphasis: international security, homeland security policy, science and technology security, and environmental health and occupational safety. The 36-credit hour program includes course titles such as Weapons of Mass Destruction, Global Terrorism, Fundamentals of Environmental Health, and Information Security Management. Students may also choose between a thesis online political science master’s degree or opt for a non-thesis track.

Tuition & Fees: $6,857

#4– George Washington University

Online Master’s in Political Management

Washington, D.C.

George Washington University online master's political science

George Washington University’s online master’s in political science program emphasizes practice over theory.

Website
Points: 5

The master’s in political science online offering from George Washington University is technically a Master’s in Political Management. Although the program can be completed entirely online, students still have access to networking opportunities with alumni as well as political figures connected to the university. The school’s location in Washington, D.C. ensures that such connections are plentiful. This particular online political science master’s program prides itself on taking students beyond theory and providing them with practical strategies to advance their careers and perhaps more importantly, make a difference in their communities.

Tuition & Fees: $27,851

#3 – University of Illinois—Springfield

Online Master’s in Political Science

Springfield, Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield online political science master's degree

The University of Illinois-Springfield offers a highly customizable online master’s in political science program.

Points: 5

The University of Illinois-Springfield offers an online master’s in political science offering suitable for those who wish to pursue careers in politics as well as those students who wish to teach political science or continue their graduate studies in a doctoral program. Only 12 of the 40 required credit hours are core courses, and students can customize their curriculum around one of four available emphases: American National and State Politics, Comparative Politics/International Relations, Political Theory, or Public Law. An internship is required for completion of this master’s in political science online, but it can be completed in the student’s local community, or in some instances, at their current place of employment.

Tuition & Fees: $10,532

#2 – University of Nebraska—Omaha

Online MS in Political Science

Omaha, Nebraska

University of Nebraska Omaha master's in political science online

The University of Nebraska-Omaha offers three graduate certificates in addition to its master’s in political science online degree.

Website
Points: 6

The University of Nebraska-Omaha offers a master’s in political science online that mirrors its on-campus offering. Twelve of the 30 required credit hours are elective courses, enabling students a fair amount of flexibility in terms of content customization. Some core course offerings include Leadership Theory & Application, Foreign & Security Policies, and Comparative Politics. As they work towards their online political science master’s degree, students can also earn certificates in International Affairs, Intelligence and National Security, or Global Information Operations.

Tuition & Fees: $5,836

#1 – Virginia Tech

Online Master’s in Political Science

Blacksburg, Virginia

Virginia Tech online master's political science

Graduation from Virginia Tech’s online master’s in political science program requires the completion of a significant research project.

Website
Points: 8

Virginia Tech offers a completely online master’s in political science program as well as an accelerated hybrid program from its College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. As they work towards their degrees, students may also choose to earn a graduate certification in one of four different areas: Environmental Politics and Policy; Foundations of Political Analysis; Information, Policy, and Society; and Security Studies. In addition to coursework, Virginia Tech’s online master’s political science students must also complete a significant research project prior to graduation.

Tuition & Fees: $14,116

This concludes our ranking of the 8 top value online master’s in political science degree programs.

Sources:

Payscale.com
NCES College Navigator

CVO Staff
November 2016