Political science programs cover the basics of the three branches of government, and provide an opportunity to dive deeper into specific aspects of each. Quality of education, academic atmosphere, student life, and job placement certainly help poly-sci programs and their colleges stand out, but which ones receive high marks for ROI? Which political science degree programs continually graduate students who go on to be to top earners in their field? Check out today’s 20 best poly-sci programs for return on investment.
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Consistently ranked in the top national universities by U.S News & World Report, Stanford University has 7,000 undergraduate students to its 2,000 faculty. Stanford has long been known for its academic greatness and has 19 Nobel laureates in its community. The Political Science department aims to give its undergraduate students a comprehensive education in political systems around the globe and how they interact. The faculty includes top experts in their field who are internationally recognized for their in-depth research in their specific academic area.
William & Mary is the second oldest college in the U.S. and a designated “Public Ivy,” which only eight schools in the nation can attest. Throughout its 320-year history, W&M has grown into a top research institution that produces worldly and intellectual graduates. Its Government department is a close-knit community of like-minded individuals looking to change the world. The curriculum highlights political systems, people, and moral and ethical considerations in government.
The University of California at San Diego encourages its students to pursue a hands-on, fully engaged learning experience, and it provides the resources to do so. Recognized as a top 10 public university, UCSD gets some of the most competitive applicants in the state and nation. The Department of Political Science was founded in 1974 and focuses on interdisciplinary scholarship and innovation. Students can focus on one of several research specialties including American Politics and International Relations.
At James Madison University – “where change is the status quo” – students are prepared with knowledge and skills to adapt to shifting global trends in academia and beyond. With eight academic divisions and more than 70 undergraduate majors, the offerings at JMU are truly diverse. The undergraduate program in political science is completed with 33 credit hours, including a four-hour capstone experience in which students work in an applied area with a faculty member or another professional in the field.
The University of Oklahoma (OU) is home of the Sooners, who represent high performing athletic teams that have earned the school 27 national championships. The school is located in Norman, Oklahoma at the heart of the state and not far from Oklahoma City. Characterized by students who are highly involved on campus and in their communities, the Department of Political Science offers many opportunities for scholarships, internships, and other work experiences. Course offerings include subjects like political theory, comparative politics, and public policy.
The University of Vermont was chartered in 1791, the same year Vermont became the 14th state. It balances its rigorous academic life with the placid surroundings of Lake Champlain and two mountain ranges. Undergraduate political science students get all the attention from faculty, as the department focuses exclusively on the bachelor’s degree. The instructors in the department create unique and groundbreaking research, like one professor’s book on how the Harry Potter series influenced the political ideals of the Millennial generation.
The campus of Northwestern University rests on Lake Michigan, supporting 19,000 students and 2,500 distinguished faculty members. Students in the political science undergraduate program will learn the essentials and intricacies of the major political works and investigate dozens of topics both contemporary and age-old. Graduates of the program have said the opportunities afforded to them by Northwestern helped them succeed in graduate school and the business, public service, and government fields, among others.
With three main campuses in the Washington, D.C. area, GWU is in a strategic position to build lasting corporate and community relationships. The name, of course, comes from the first U.S. president, who left a sum of money to found the school (though he died before it was established in 1821). The internationally recognized programs in the George Washington University Department of Political Science gives plenty of openings for students to apply what they have learned in class by engaging in research and service activities. The complete course load amounts to 30 hours, and some AP credit is given for scores of 4 or 5.
Texas A&M University establishes a positive environment where both students and faculty can achieve their personal and professional goals. It was founded in 1876 and was the first public institution of higher learning in Texas. The large political science department is highly ranked and has about 1,000 undergraduate students majoring in political science. Two faculty-led summer abroad programs in Europe give students an international perspective on site-specific political trends and governance.
Now in its second century of top-notch academic activity, Southern Methodist University is a diverse learning environment suitable for students seeking a challenging educational experience. The school’s dedication to research is evident in its University Library, which houses the largest collection of privately held research materials in the Southeast. A wide array of focus areas help students in the political science program to hone their skills in a niche area or in a broad range of political topics – from legislation in Latin America to the political economy of Africa.
Students feel at home at the University of Central Florida, where the large campus gives them space to work and live in their own style. Campus life at UCF has many offerings, with 350 student organizations to choose from and quality entertainment brought to the UCF Arena. Committed to helping students succeed in the classroom and after graduation, the Department of Political Science has many resources on career options in the political science major and retains faculty that guide students in their career path.
Established in 1875 as a school affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young University has been recognized for its competitive academic programs and its fulfilling combination of education and faith. The mission of the political science department at BYU is to impart knowledge on the effect the human effects of politics at all levels. Essential facts about political history as well as political theory and philosophy shape students’ own political perspectives as they proceed in the curriculum.
Virginia Tech’s commitment to service and applying knowledge toward positive efforts is self-evident in its motto, Ut Prosim (“That We May Serve”). Its 31,000 students receive degrees from eight colleges and a graduate school, and benefit from studying at one of the top research institutions in the U.S. Studies in the political science degree at Virginia Tech cover political systems, processes, and governance for careers in diverse fields. Students can expand their involvement in the department by participating in internships, study abroad, honor societies, and Model UN, among other opportunities.
The University of North Carolina is the nation’s first public university, inviting students for the first time in 1795. Chapel Hill has been rated as one of the best places to live among small to mid-sized cities in the U.S. The Department of Political Science has been ranked in the top 15 political science programs for many years. Its world-class faculty members stay abreast of the most current trends in their field through research and involvement in the academic community.
Located between San Francisco and Monterrey in northern California, SJSU started our as Minn’s Evening Normal School in 1857. The school is the oldest public university in California and boasts famous alumni like fashion designer Jessica McClintock and Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club. The curriculum of the political science degree at SJSU touches on broad topics in politics, application of knowledge, methodology, responsible citizenship, and communication skills. A senior capstone project is the final test of the learning objectives of the degree.
The University of Illinois upholds all-around excellence, having graduated Olympic athletes, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and international corporate leaders. Ranked highly for both public and national universities by the U.S. News & World Report, the university offers a broad educational spectrum in 17 academic units. The unique Civic Leadership Program offered in the Department of Political Science lets students focus their studies and complete a practicum and capstone project that reflect their particular interests and political beliefs.
Pursuing excellence in academics and community engagement, the University of Maryland has made great strides in furthering its reputation in the past 20 years. UMD emphasizes “inclusive excellence” in its learning environment, making sure that students of all backgrounds get the most out of their time there. Students in the Department of Government and Politics benefit from small classes and accessible faculty. The highly engaged Advising Office leaves its door open for students throughout the semester to keep them on the right track.
As a well-established, large public university, Boston University attracts students from all 50 states and 140 countries. Its location in a large metropolis is an advantage for students looking for real-world experience and exciting local life. With 28 faculty members from a broad base of political science disciplines, the Department of Political Science caters to students seeking a personalized and meaningful education. Research methods courses help students take advantage of the ample opportunities for intellectual investigation on campus.
At the University of California at Santa Barbara, education is something to get excited about: One-third of its undergraduate students will continue on to graduate or professional school. The spacious campus covers 1,055 acres on the coast of southern California. The political science bachelor’s degree crosses disciplinary lines, with courses that cross over into other departments to facilitate study in the politics of identity and the environment. Students select one area of study as their primary focus, yet also take courses in other topics.
The University of Washington, now in the center of downtown Seattle, was founded in 1861 and is one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast. Its 16 colleges and schools, which offer 1,800 courses per quarter, are always striving to help its students achieve more. The political science program is highly popular at UW – it’s among the top three in the College of Arts & Sciences in number of students majoring in the subject. Two impressive internship programs – one in Washington state and one in Washington, D.C. – advance students’ knowledge to the applied level.