Top Political Science Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Oct 20, 2021

Check out degree programs in political science, available at some of the top colleges and universities in the United States. Read about levels of study at four high-ranking universities, along with a table that lists other schools in the United States that offer studies in political science.

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Political science is the study of governments, governmental processes, and public policies. Subspecialties include political economy, philosophy, or theory, as well as international relations. Some of the best U.S. colleges and universities for political science include Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of California, and Ohio State University. All four schools have received high rankings from U.S. News and World Report and offer undergraduate majors and graduate degrees in political science.

Harvard University

Students at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, have access to the largest university library in the world, which will serve as a great asset to political science students pursuing their unique research goals. Harvard University placed second among top national universities in the 2017 edition of U.S. News and World Report. The same publication also ranked Harvard's graduate political science program as the top program in the country for 2013. The Department of Government at Harvard offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science, as well as an undergraduate concentration in government. Graduate and law students may enroll in a joint Juris Doctor/Ph.D. program.

University of Michigan

Political science students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have the opportunity to combine their studies with other fields of interest, such as public policy, public health, economics, and philosophy. In 2013, the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor ranked fourth in the country in U.S. News and World Report's list of top political science schools in the nation, the highest among public institutions included. Serving over 41,000 students annually, it also ranked third in the American politics and third in political methodology specialties for the same year.

The Department of Political Science offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Ph.D. There are five specialties in these programs, which include American, comparative, or international politics, political methodology, and political theory. Undergraduates also have the opportunity to intern for a semester in Washington, D.C. The Ph.D. program is composed of courses and seminars designed to prepare Ph.D. candidates for writing their dissertations.

UC Berkeley

Political science students at the University of California, Berkeley have access to a large and diverse number of research centers and institutes dedicated to relevant issues in political science, including government, law and society, and urban development. According to U.S. News and World Report's rankings in 2013, the Charles and Louis Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California in Berkeley was the sixth best political science department in the country.

As reported by a university survey in 2015, social sciences, which includes political science, was the most popular undergraduate major. There are approximately 11 concentrations associated with both the B.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science programs, including American, comparative, or international politics. Additional areas of concentration include political methodology or philosophy, public law or policy, political modeling, and research and behavior in politics. Scholarships and fellowships are offered to undergraduate students through the Travers Program in Ethics and Accountability in Government.

Ohio State University

Graduate students at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, can choose courses from nine different fields of study in which the department specializes. In 2013, Ohio State University's graduate political science program was tied at #15 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. For the same year, the most popular major fields of study in this program were reported as American politics, international politics, and political methodology. These specialties were also ranked by the magazine in the top ten specialties in political science in the country in 2013.

According to the school's Department of Political Science, political science grad students at OSU also pursue a minor field of study in addition to a major field of study. The choices for a minor field of study are political psychology, formal theory, political economy and race, ethnicity and gender.

Other Top Programs

Here are six more schools that provide highly-ranked programs in political science.

School Name Distinction Location
Indiana University Offers students the chance to enroll in the Political and Civic Engagement Certificate Program Bloomington, IN
University of California in San Diego Offers a joint Ph.D. in political science and international affairs San Diego, CA
University of California in Irvine Give students pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science the opportunity to complete an interdisciplinary M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis or M.A. in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at the same time Irvine, CA
Stanford University Features a research honors program for students pursuing a B.A. in Political Science Stanford, CA
Georgetown University Offers unique master's degree programs specializing in fields such as American government, conflict resolution, democracy and governance, and development, management and policy Washington, D.C.
University of Chicago Makes several political science workshops available to faculty and students Chicago, IL

Depending on university practices, programs may be offered through an institution's department of political science or department of government. Concentrations can include such areas as international politics, political philosophy, public law and research, and behavior in politics.

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