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If you debate your friends and family about Supreme Court nominations and you are always glued to CNN, a career in political science might be your ideal profession. Graduates of the best political science schools have rewarding careers as policy and intelligence analysts, legislative assistants, public relations specialists, and political consultants, to name a few.

By studying how laws are made and the comparative structures of governments worldwide, political science majors plan public policy to positively impact the social and economic status of the populace.


Facts about the Best Political Science Schools

The best political science schools first provide students with a well-rounded liberal arts education and then teaches students about the different sub-fields of political science. By learning how to gain power, how to plan and execute campaigns, and how to influence public opinion, political science majors can develop different models for leadership while maintaining a historical perspective in relation to the effectiveness of each approach.


1. What Is Political Science?

Political science is an academic discipline that seeks to understand the exercise of power in a variety of settings. Organized into four main areas of study (also called sub-fields), political science majors will study American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.


2. Types of Political Science Careers

Graduates with a degree in political science have a good foundation for a wide variety of professions or advanced studies. By having a core liberal arts education, your skills in analytical reading, research, analysis, and writing will make students good candidates for a job in almost any area, including business, finance, consulting, government work, the foreign service, and teaching.

If you plan to attend graduate school for law, business, social work, education, international affairs, or political science itself, a degree from one of the best political science schools will set you apart from the competition.


3. Features of the Best Political Science Schools

When looking for the best political science schools, a curriculum that helps you develop strong writing and research skills, while also generating papers about the political sphere, will act as good training for your future career. Learning how to make a convincing argument — and then backing it up with facts — is one way that political science majors hone their presentation and verbal communication skills.

Besides refining your analytical skills, the best political science schools develop a student’s ability to think critically. Critical thinking is crucial for evaluating a political party’s platform and the impact of leadership changes.


How We Reviewed

To help you choose the best political science schools, we picked 10 institutions that consistently rank highly and included program features, pros and cons, the cost to attend, and a website where you can learn more.


Overall Price Range for the Best Political Science Schools

The cost of an education from the best political science schools isn’t cheap, but the long-term payoff in career opportunities will be well worth it. On paper, the best political science schools we evaluated all cost between $$ and $$$ a year. However, all of these schools use need-based admissions and actively work to make sure no student turns down the opportunity to enroll because it is too expensive.



What We Reviewed

  • Georgetown University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Princeton University
  • Washington University in St Louis
  • George Washington University
  • Harvard University
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University

Georgetown University

georgetown best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Located in the heart of U.S. politics and government, Georgetown University is a highly rated private Catholic university in Washington, D.C. Georgetown’s Department of Government offers undergraduate students the opportunity to major in government or political economy.

Besides its honors program—an intensive, three-semester program of closely mentored research and writing that culminates in a thesis senior year—the Government Department also offers students the opportunity to take part in Delta Eta, Georgetown’s Pi Sigma Alpha Chapter of the national political science society.

  PROS   

  • Proximity to U.S. government branches and agencies
  • Access to well-connected faculty and alumni
  • Dual BA/MA degree programs in American Government and Democracy and Governance

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • Does not accept the Common App

Tuition

The yearly cost to attend Georgetown University is approximately $$$, a figure that includes tuition and fees, housing and meals, books, travel, and personal expenses.


Columbia University in the City of New York

columbia best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Undergraduate students at Columbia University interested in majoring political science have multiple options in structuring their degree.  Students will choose one subfield as their primary political science specialization and a secondary subfield.

Besides subfield coursework, undergraduate students in Columbia College’s Political Science Department complete an additional four-point seminar, a course in research methods, and a political science elective of their choosing. The Political Science Student Association is the only non-partisan political group on Columbia’s campus and connects students with the Political Science Department and faculty.  

  PROS   

  • Proximity to New York City businesses
  • Access to well-connected faculty and alumni
  • Elite Ivy League institution
  • Common Application and Coalition Application are both accepted

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • New York City has a high cost of living

Tuition

Yearly tuition and fees for political science majors at Columbia College is approximately $$. In addition, room and board are approximately $ per year and books and personal expenses around $—bringing the total cost to attend Columbia in NYC at around $$$.


Princeton University

pricenton best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Princeton University is an elite Ivy League institution in New Jersey. With one of the largest undergraduate programs devoted to political science studies, Princeton’s Department of Politics offers approximately 50 regular courses to undergraduates—making it one of the best political science schools in the country.

Princeton organizes its undergraduate political science teachings into four primary fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Students can also concentrate in qualitative analysis, political economy, and strategy in politics.

  PROS   

  • Elite Ivy League institution
  • Coalition, Common, and Universal College Applications are all accepted
  • A generous financial aid program allows over 80 percent of undergraduates to graduate debt free

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • Students not covered by a family health insurance policy must purchase one

Tuition

The estimated yearly cost to attend Princeton University is $$$ which breaks down into approximately $$ in tuition and fees and $ for room and board, books, and personal expenses.


Washington University in St. Louis

washington university in st louis best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Considered one of the best political science schools in the country, undergraduates at Washington University in St. Louis can major or minor in the field. The Department of Political Science in Washington University in St. Louis’s College of Arts & Science has many sub-field studies, including American politics, comparative politics, international politics, political and social theory, environmental policy, and formal and mathematical approaches.

The school encourages political science undergraduates to take part in research and join Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honor society for students in political science.

  PROS   

  • Multiple sub-fields of study
  • Washington University in St. Louis accepts both the Common and Coalition Applications
  • Lower cost of living as compared to other large cities

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • St. Louis is far from Washington, D.C.

Tuition

The estimated yearly cost to attend Washington University in St. Louis is approximately $$$. Tuition and fees account for approximately $$ of the total, while room and board take up around $.


George Washington University

george best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University’s Department of Political Science ranks as one of the best political science schools in the country. With nationally recognized undergraduate programs, students in the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences study sub-fields of American politics, comparative politics, and international relations.

The department also offers five combined Bachelor’s/Master’s programs in Political Science, Legislative Affairs, Public Administration, Public Policy, and Political Management.

PROS   

  • Located in the nation’s capital
  • Internship opportunities
  • Accepts the Common Application
  • Tuition is fixed for up to five years

PROS 

   CONS

  • Washington, D.C. has a high cost of living

Tuition

The estimated yearly cost to attend George Washington University ranges from $$ for students living at home and $$$ for students living on the main campus.


Harvard University

harvard best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

As one of the most famous institutions in the world, Harvard University’s undergraduate program in government is also one of the best political science schools in the country. Part of Harvard College, the Government Department gives students the option to pursue political science as their primary, secondary, or as a joint concentration.

  PROS   

  • Elite Ivy League institution
  • The Coalition, Common, and Universal College Applications are all accepted
  • Famous classmates (Malia Obama and David Hogg) and even more famous alumni (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to name a few)

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • Boston has a high cost of living

Tuition

The estimated yearly cost of attending Harvard is approximately $$$, which includes tuition, room, board, and fees.


The University of Pennsylvania

pennsylvania best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is a private institution in Philadelphia and is one of the eight Ivy League schools. For undergraduates interested in majoring in political science, the Political Science Department in the school’s Arts & Science College is one of the best political science schools in the country.

Besides learning alongside world-renowned faculty members, political science majors at Penn take part in career internships, study abroad, and join alumni organizations like Penn in Washington and the Fox Leadership Program.

  PROS   

  • Elite Ivy League institution
  • Penn accepts the Coalition Application, Common App, and QuestBridge Applications
  • Proximity to Washington, D.C. and New York City

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions

Tuition

The estimated yearly cost to attend the University of Pennsylvania is approximately $$ for undergraduates living on campus, $$$ for undergraduates living off campus, and $$$ for undergraduates living at home with family.


Dartmouth College

dartmouth best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

The Department of Government at Dartmouth College prides itself on having an intensive student-faculty interaction that comes with a college but resembles a university because faculty are research-oriented and as productive and eminent as their counterparts at large research universities.
Political science students at Dartmouth College enjoy this hybrid model and regularly have informal discussions and collaborate with professors. As one of the eight Ivy League schools, Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire and is one of the best political science schools in the country.

  PROS   

  • Elite Ivy League institution
  • The Coalition, Common, and QuestBridge Applications are all accepted
  • Cost of living is lower

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions

Tuition

The yearly cost to attend Dartmouth College is approximately $$$. Tuition and fees account for $$$, while housing, food, books, and personal expenses account for approximately $.


Duke University

duke best political science schools

Tuition

$$$

Our Rating

Program Description

The Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University is home to one of the best political science schools in the country. Many Duke undergraduates major in political science while also complimenting it with other programs, such as classical studies, economics, history, and mathematics.

Graduates of Duke’s political science program are highly successful and pursue careers in a wide variety of fields. Part of North Carolina’s research triangle, Duke places a heavy emphasis on research and the school’s political science faculty are leaders in their fields.

PROS   

  • Duke is a “Southern Ivy” school
  • Option to double-major
  • The Coalition and Common Applications are accepted
  • Proximity to the research triangle and other academic institutions

PROS 

   CONS

  • Competitive admissions
  • North Carolina is far from major political cities 

Tuition

The yearly cost to attend Duke is approximately $$$. Tuition and fees account for $$$, while room, board, books, and personal expenses account for $.

Best Political Science Schools: The Verdict

When it comes time to make a final decision about which school you will attend — and major and career path you plan to pursue — it is important to consider your own unique values, skills, personality traits, and interests. A school that is a perfect fit for one political science major might not be a good choice for someone else.

While each of the schools on our list has competitive admissions and practice need-blind admissions, political science majors will quickly realize that networking is a big part of being successful. Schools in major cities, like Georgetown and George Washington in Washington, D.C. or Columbia in New York City, make it easier for students to pursue opportunities with nearby government agencies, businesses, and research institutions.

Remember, education is an investment and you always want to maximize your return; choosing one of the best political science schools will open many opportunities after you graduate and embark on your career.

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