Political Science Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

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Associate's and bachelor's degrees in political science can lead to careers as paralegals, community organizers, congressional aides, or campaign workers. Get the truth about the requirements, courses, and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Political Science: Degrees at a Glance

Are you interested in current events? Are you invested in politics and international relations? If so, an associate's or bachelor's degree in political science can lead to your working in a government-related career in either the public or private sector. Individuals with political science associate's and bachelor's degrees are qualified for jobs as community organizers, research associates, and paralegals.

Associates Bachelors
Who Is this Degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level positions in politics Individuals interested in advancing their careers in government or politics or in completing a graduate degree program in the future
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Community organizer ($32,000)**
- Research associate ($33,000)***
- Lobbyist ($31,000)***
- Public relations associate ($39,000)***
Time to Completion 2 years full time 4 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 60 course credit hours
- Independent studies
- Internship
- Approximately 120 course credit hours
- Senior project
- Internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent - High school diploma, GED or associate's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com, ***Payscale.com.

Associate's Degree in Political Science

In a political science associate's degree program, you study past and current national and foreign affairs. Completing this program can lead to a career in government affairs or a related field.

Pros and Cons


  • Curriculum provides you with an understanding of the political world
  • Earned credits may transfer to a bachelor's degree program
  • Projects and internships allow you to apply scholarly theories to real-world political and international relationship issues


  • Many employment opportunities require that applicants have a bachelor's degree, possibly resulting in your competing with bachelor's degree holders for job positions
  • Most associate's degree programs are designed for you to transfer to four-year colleges or universities and therefore provide only basic instruction in political science
  • Curriculum may only provide a general overview of politics, preventing you from specializing in a specific area of the subject

Common Courses and Requirements

As a political science major, you take classes in American politics as well as international relations, governmental affairs, and even law. In some cases, you complete internships and independent study projects.

Examples of courses you might take include:

  • American government
  • International relations
  • American law
  • Political ideologies
  • U.S. history
  • Women in politics

Online Degree Options

Online political science associate's degree programs are not available. Attending an on-campus program allows you to engage in classroom discussions and analysis that may reflect the debates and conversations that can happen when working in a government office.

How to Stand Out With This Degree

To stand out with this degree, consider completing a course in research design, statistical analysis, data collection or data analysis. These classes teach you how to investigate trends and issues in politics and translate the information you gather into numerical data. This skill may be extremely attractive to employers, who may appreciate being able to substantiate political decisions or actions with reliable data.

Basics of a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science

Political science bachelor's degrees are available as either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). Although the coursework in the two programs is similar, the Bachelor of Science program is more research-focused, and usually includes additional math and statistics courses.

Pros and Cons


  • The ability to choose between a B.S. and B.A. program allows you to focus your studies according to your interests.
  • Curriculum provides a detailed introduction to foreign and national politics, giving you extensive knowledge of these international political affairs.
  • Degree is a common requirement for most jobs in the field


  • Program may include extensive research requirements
  • Some careers in the field require graduate degrees, so you may be under qualified for some positions
  • May be required to concentrate in one or two areas in addition to completing general education classes, resulting in an intense course of study

Common Courses and Requirements

Many times, in a political science degree program, you must concentrate in a specific field of political science. Sometimes, you complete a research methodologies course and a senior project.

Examples of courses you might take include:

  • International relations
  • EU politics
  • Politics of democracy
  • Comparative politics

Online Degree Options

Both B.S. and B.A. programs are available online. The curriculum of these programs is the same as those of on-campus programs.

How to Stand Out With This Degree

To stand out against your competition, aim to have your research and senior project published. Many programs boast graduates who have published their works in political science journals. Being published may impress employers.

Also consider completing a research experience over the summer. Some programs offer undergraduate political science students to complete faculty-supervised research during the summer. Having this experience may make you stand out to employers.

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