Types of Political Science Degrees
The cost of a political science degree depends largely on what type of degree you’re interested in pursuing. An undergraduate program will almost always cost more than an associate degree, while a master’s degree is usually more expensive than an undergraduate program. The degree that works best for you depends on your academic background and educational goals. Below, we compare and contrast what each degree has to offer.
Most certificate programs cover only the most basic concepts pertaining to political science, such as common ideologies and law. By no means comprehensive, they offer a broad introduction to the field.
- Campaign Organizing Assistant
- Nonprofit Team Member
- Associate Degree
Associate programs are relatively uncommon. They introduce the fundamentals of political theory and philosophy, civil liberties, and how state and federal governments work.
- Political Campaign Aide
- Political Activist
- Bachelor's Degree
Undergraduate coursework strengthens foundational knowledge in political theory and provides in-depth analysis of global events. Topics often include criminal law, ethics, and concepts in public administration.
- Master’s Degree
Most master’s programs allow students to specialize in a particular area of political science. Commonly chosen fields include geopolitics, modern political thought, and the history of political ideologies.
- Public Affairs Consultant
- Public Administrator
- Doctorate Degree
Combining advanced coursework in political theory and research methods with independent fieldwork, PhD programs usually require candidates to write and defend a dissertation based on their research and acquired knowledge.
- Political Strategist/Consultant
How Much Does a Political Science Degree Cost?
In addition to degree type, there are several other factors that affect the cost of a program. Many shorter programs, such as accelerated online degrees, are less expensive than their traditional four-year equivalent. Some online programs, however, are offered through for-profit colleges whose high tuition rates may be more expensive. Like private institutions, for-profit schools receive the majority of their funding from tuition, resulting in higher fees. In contrast, nonprofit and public institutions are funded primarily by state and federal aid, allowing them to maintain stable and relatively low tuition rates. While a private school education often comes with more prestige, public universities tend to be more affordable and offer a much wider range of degree options.
Financing Your Political Science Degree
If you are interested in finding loans, grants, and scholarships for political science majors, you should first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA helps the federal government determine the types and amounts of financial aid that a student qualifies for. Many learners choose to take out federal student loans, which offer lower interest rates and better repayment plans than private loans. However, before you assume any student debt, you should be sure to look for political science scholarships and grants.
Scholarships are monetary gifts given to students who satisfy certain criteria, such as a high GPA, athletic achievement, or membership in a group. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not need to be paid back, and you’re free to apply for and accept as many as possible. If you’re pursuing a degree in political science, scholarships should be your first choice when considering funding options.
Types of Scholarships
It’s important to remember that you’re not limited to applying for only political science scholarships. Many awards do not require a student to have a specific major, prospective career, or interest. Merit-based scholarships reward academic, athletic, and artistic achievement, while those based on need are awarded according to income. Scholarships may be sponsored by an organization, an institution, an individual, or the government. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common scholarships as well as who should apply to each type of aid.