Earn an Online PhD in Political Science

Online PhD in political science programs help students students learn how to think critically about politics, economics, culture, and society. In them, students are shown how to become thinkers who understand the field’s history, present, and future. They will see how factors come together to affect people and communities.

What Will I Study in an Online PhD in Political Science Program?

Perhaps the broadest subjects you will study are American, international, and comparative politics. Within these subjects, you will take many classes. You will study theories. You will explore subcomponents of the subjects. In addition, you will examine policies. You will also think about causes and effects that shape politics. You will dive deeply into these subjects to explore how politics influence our world.

You will study the pillars of political science. You might study historical influences. You might learn about present issues. And you might explore future predictions and possibilities. You will learn about various theories, principles, and applications. Study in these and other areas will help you break down the science of politics.

Conducting research will be an important part of your Online PhD in Political Science program. It too will help you explore the science of politics. You will study research methodology for the field. You will learn about inquiry and research design. You will study quantitative and qualitative approaches. You will find out how to analyze policies and outcomes. You will learn how to analyze and support or rebut other research. You will learn how to engage in political science research and discourse. Some programs even help you submit your research for publication before you graduate.

In addition to these areas, in your Online PhD in Political Science, you may study more specific aspects of political science.

  • How to teach political science
  • Government (local, federal, and international)
  • Partisan politics
  • Environmental and sustainability politics
  • Development politics
  • Culture and diversity politics
  • Public administration
  • Public policy
  • Professional development (courses that help you learn how to work as a professional in the field)

You might also focus your knowledge. For example, you might do so through elective study. Or you might do it through a specialization. There are some common options for focused study, so you may see some of the topics on this list.

  • American politics
  • Comparative politics
  • International relations
  • Public administration
  • Public policy

At the end of the day, what you will study depends on the program. However, this list can give you a sense of the exciting curricula that awaits!

What Is the Goal of a Doctorate-Level Political Science Program?

The key goal is to gain a wide knowledge of the discipline. You have the chance to gain a solid grasp of basic theories and methods in the field. You will talk about the field broadly, and you will study subfields as well.

You will likely take multiple classes in each of the areas we talked about above in your Political Science PhD. You might also study other topics in depth. One goal might be for you to graduate with expert-level knowledge. Or at least for you to graduate with a strong knowledge of the whole discipline.

To grow your advanced knowledge, you will likely work with skilled faculty. They will help you learn how to strive forward in the field. Their goals are to produce skilled workers who can contribute to the field. They might even be looking for students who can help them with their research. Any given program might use your skills to meet program goals. This could help you develop your professional and academic toolkit.

You might learn to apply your knowledge to several fields.

  • Education
  • Research
  • Government
  • Nonprofit and nongovernmental service

Just like the curriculum, the goals of every program varies. Read about programs right here on our site and request additional information to get a sense of a school's goals.

What Are Some Components of a Political Science Doctorate Program?

When you earn an online PhD in political science, you might have to live up to several bars. You may need to:

  • Develop your language proficiency in an area other than English
  • Prepare and defend a dissertation
  • Work with tenured faculty on your dissertation
  • Prove that you can research and write well
  • Get scores that pass on qualifying papers
  • Complete an oral defense
  • Pass a comprehensive exam (or maybe even more than one)

How Can I Prepare for an Online PhD Political Science Program?

First, you will need a bachelors degree. It likely needs to be from an accredited school. For some programs, you may even need to have a masters degree from an approved school. For others, you can earn your masters in route to your PhD.

Many programs require you to have a minimum GPA. You might also have to maintain a set GPA through your program. You might have to show a recent GRE score. You will need to apply and follow application procedures. You will likely have to pay a fee and provide transcripts. And you will probably need to submit essays and letters of recommendation. Keep in mind that you might only be able to apply once per year. Get started now and plan ahead!

What About Accreditation?

You can check the accreditation status of a school directly through a school. Many schools are accredited by an outside entity. Accreditation helps ensure that the program provides quality curricula and instruction. Many PhD programs want students with degrees from accredited schools. And, you might want to consider pursuing a PhD from an accredited school. Why?

Well, there are many reasons. For example, if you want to work for a college one day, you might need to have a PhD from an accredited school. Or, if you want to work for the government or even the private sector, you might need a degree from an accredited school.  

What Are Some Careers for People with an Online PhD in Political Science?

Many programs help students prepare for careers as teachers, researchers, civil servants, or political experts in the private sector.

Let us give you a sense of some in-range careers and what they pay.

  • Political scientists with a masters degree earned a median annual salary of $99,730 in 2014.i
  • College teachers with a masters or doctorate degree earned a median annual salary of $72,470 in 2014.ii
  • Social and community services managers with a bachelors degree earned a median annual salary of $63,530 in 2014.iii

To decide what type of career your program grooms you for, talk to an advisor. They will help you shape your program to meet your needs.

How Do I Find My Perfect Program?

On this page you will find a list of Online PhD in Political Science programs. They are offered across political science and its subfields. All of them are offered online. Browse through your options and take notes. Consider the curricula, how long the program takes to complete, and whether or not it offers what you need.

When you are ready for more information, simply click “visit school.” There you can find additional information and contact the school. You can also use the Request Info tool. You never have to leave our site. All you have to do is click and follow instructions to find your Online PhD in Political Science. We’ll guide you to what you need!  


i bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm  |  ii bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-1 | iii bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm