7 Best Political science master’s programs in the US in 2023

political science master's
Masters Degree

7 Best Political science master’s programs in the US in 2023

Political science is a degree that is becoming more and more popular, especially as people are becoming more politically aware and less apathetic than before. And what better place to study political science than in the US, which is supposedly the home of democracy? There are many top schools to study and excel in Political Science in the US and obtain a master’s degree that will give you a competitive advantage when applying to work at any firm worldwide. Read on to learn about the 7 best political science master’s programs in the US for the year 2023. 

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7 Best Political science master’s programs in the US in 2023 

From Columbia University to Schiller International University, the options for great schools to pursue your political science master’s in America at are endless. The degree you choose depends on many factors, such as which city you want to study at and what specialisation you want to dive into. Here are the 7 best political science master’s programs in America so you know exactly where you should be applying: 

1. Columbia University 

Location: New York 

Nestled in the cosmopolitan city of New York, the top degree program to study a political science master’s degree at in America is the infamous Columbia University. Known for being one of the centres of academic excellence worldwide, Columbia has developed many political leaders and many leaders in a multitude of other disciplines. The political science master’s program at the university takes one year of full-time study in 30 credit hours. Students who choose to pursue the degree study at least five courses in political science, which include a Master of Arts proseminar and two seminars in in-depth political science topics.


Students of the program learn to master at least one research tool and get a good background in the area of Political Science. They also get to choose a specialisation out of four different ones: American politics, political theory, comparative politics or International relations studies. Columbia offers students of the degree activities through famous institutes like Earth Institute and the Center for International Conflict Resolution so that they can gain a more practical experience. To graduate from this program, students don’t need to hand in a thesis. However, admission to the program requires excellent GRE scores. 

2. Duke University

Location: North Carolina 

The next school on the list for those who want to study in the US for their political science master’s is Duke University, located in North Carolina. Around 9,000 graduate students study at the University. The Master’s in Political Science program offered by the university is 30 credits long and prepares students for an excellent career in research and teaching. The program is highly selective, with only 10 to 15 students enrolling in the program a year. The theoretical courses of the degree are supplemented with research and practical experiences from institutes like the Social Science Research Institute and Triangle Institute for Security Studies. Students choose whether to attend a thesis or non-thesis degree program to obtain the degree. 


Students who choose to study the program can choose from between many specialisations like political institutions, political behaviour and identity, and political philosophy, among others. Each specialisation offers students a deep dive into the topic of their choice. For example, students of the political institutions’ specialisation study topics like voting and participation. The degree program is highly customisable as students may choose to specialise in a theme like religion or gender and politics, attending courses from other departments like the public policy and theology departments.  

3. Villanova University

Location: Pennsylvania 

Villanova University is the third-best university to pursue a political science master’s program in America. The University was founded in 1842 in California and offers an excellent master’s program in Political Science which has a merged practical and theoretical approach. Students learn from top-class faculty that all come from great research organisations in America like the  National Science Foundation and Council on Foreign Relations. The 30-credit master’s degree is offered for students who want to study a part-time master’s or a full-time one, depending on whatever the student chooses. 


Students of the course choose a specialisation out of three ones: American government, political philosophy, and international relations and comparative politics. They first study a core program of political science then dive into specialised courses for the remaining degree programs. They are allowed to also take 6 credits from outside the political science department if they choose to. 


The program is highly exclusive with a maximum of 15 students being allowed to join classes so that discussions are fruitful and all can participate. To graduate from the program, students need to hand in a capstone thesis or pass a written exam that covers all master’s topics. If students want to go on to pursue a PhD degree, they can also choose the research track and hand in a Master of Arts thesis at the end of their degree duration. 

4. Case Western University

Location: Ohio 

Number 4 on the list for political science master’s programs is the Case Western University, abbreviated as CWRU. The school is located in Cleveland, Ohio and has around 12,000 students studying there. The faculty of the Political Science school has expertise in many areas of Politics like constitutional law and the development and decline of nation-states. The political science master’s program is 30 credits and allows students to understand the discipline deeply. 


The Master’s degree includes a mandatory exam, focusing on the topics of comparative politics, American government and politics, and international relations. All students also study a course that teaches them about research methodology. They can also specialise in topics like politics and money or U.S. intelligence and national security. They can also study up to 9 credits of independent study. Students can graduate from the program either after submitting a thesis or passing a cumulative exam. There’s also the option for a joint JD/MA in political science so that those interested to study a law master’s can do so simultaneously and potentially pursue a career in law. 

5. Lehigh University

Location: Pennsylvania 

The fifth best study program for those who want to study a master’s degree in political science is Lehigh University. One of the best universities in America for research, it is located in Pennsylvania and offers a master’s of Arts in political science. About 15 to 20 students enroll in the program that lasts from 12 to 15 months per year. The degree has two different variations: a traditional master’s degree and a community fellows degree track. 


The community fellows program is for students who are interested in civil service or who want to pursue non-profit careers after graduation. Students who take this track work as community organisers at any local agency, with a 15 hours project focused on community development. All students in this program study a research methods course and go in-depth into political topics like constitutional law and politics and comparative politics. They graduate from the program either by handing in a research project or thesis paper or by passing a comprehensive exam. 

6. University of Florida

Location: Florida

Another university that boasts an excellent political science master’s program is the University of Florida. The school has more than 300 programs, many of them are distance learning programs for those who want to study an online degree. It has a challenging MA program in Political Science which teaches students to become experts in research methodology. The course is 36 credits and has two courses that are required: the conduct of inquiry course and the political data analysis course. Students can personalise the rest of their degree around these programs and choose a specialisation such as comparative politics or political theory.


They can also choose to study one of five interdisciplinary certificates, featuring topics like women’s studies or global Islam. Students can either study a thesis or non-thesis track, depending on whatever they choose. There’s also the option for undergraduates to study a dual BA and MA in political science. Another option also exists to study a double degree with a law degree and graduate from a combined JD/MA program to pursue a career related to law.

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7. Schiller international university

Location: Florida

Finally, Schiller International University offers a great political science master’s program for those who want to study a master’s in international relations and diplomacy. This exciting program teaches students problem solving techniques, combined with skills in structural analysis, project development and management. They learn an in-depth study of political, cultural, legal, and socio-economic practices that make up the world, with an integrated theoretical and practical approach.


The program combines several different study areas from political science to finance to law, history, philosophy, and theology. Professional experts make up the cross department faculty members, giving students a deep learning experience of the latest international relations issues popular today. It covers many theories and topics including theories of international relations to practicing international affairs. Students also graduate with effective written and oral communication skills, which are crucial for work in the field after graduation. 

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Political Science master’s: Frequently asked questions

If you are interested in studying a political science master’s, you might be interested in the answers to the following questions: 

1. Do you need a bachelor’s degree in political science to study a political science master’s? 

No, students don’t require the previous study a bachelor’s degree in political science. However, you should have previous coursework in topics related to political science. Preferably, you should also have studied a bachelor’s major in a field that is closely related to political science, such as economics or law. 

political science master's

2. What are specialisations you can choose for your political science master’s degree?

When studying a political science master’s in the US, most students choose to specialise in topics American politics, international relations, comparative politics and political theory. Other options include specialising in public policy, gender studies,political behavior or public administration.

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3. How long does it take to complete a political science master’s? 

Students usually study a master’s in political science in two years, if you are a full time student. Most programs also give you the option to study part-time, though this will take longer to complete the degree. You might also get the option to choose an accelerated 1 year or 18 months program, if your degree offers this choice. 

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4. Is a master’s in political science a master’s of arts (MA) or a master’s of science (MS)?

A master’s in political science is typically a master’s of arts program, though sometimes it could be a master’s of science if it is a program that is combined with other disciplines. You will typically find if the program you are interested in is a MA or MS next to the name of the course on the degree website. 


In conclusion, there are much excellent political science master’s programs for those interested to study in the United States. From programs at the University of Florida to Schiller University, there are many options for degrees, each one having its own unique specialisation options so you can choose the topic of your dreams. From international relations to political economy, the topics are varied and all are super interesting. If you still aren’t sure where you want to study or if you want to choose a degree other than a political science master’s, Uniapp can help you do so!


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