Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Political Science Degrees

The best political science liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best political science degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding political science faculty.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Political Science Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in political science is an excellent starting point for a career in law, social activism, public service, and a host of other important fields. As a political science major, you’ll study subjects such as civics, theories of governance, and race relations. Your political science degree will also incorporate foundational courses in both American and world politics as well as relevant courses in the history, philosophy, and sociology disciplines. The best schools for political science are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of political science concentrations, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

Frequently Asked Questions About Political Science Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning a bachelor’s degree in political science can open numerous professionals doors. For instance, as a political science major, you’ll learn how local, state, and federal governments intersect, how electoral politics work, and how legislation is created. This knowledge could provide you with the tools to take part in policy development, run for elected office, or engage in social activism.

But a political science major can also be an excellent starting point on the way to a Law School degree or a way to enter into public service in a wide range of fields including healthcare, environmental conservation, city planning, and much more. Today, top influencers in Political Science are breaking new ground in countless critical areas, including the relationship between public opinion and political behavior, U.S. foreign policy, the fight against corruption in state building and much more.

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Political science is an excellent interdisciplinary major, touching on history, philosophy, and sociology, as well as incorporating practical subjects such as public survey, demographic analysis, epidemiology, and more. This means you could parlay your degree in political science into a wide range of rewarding careers. There are countless ways to apply your degree through local, state, and federal governance, including public health, technology, commerce, planning, and much more.

It is noteworthy that many of the top-paying professions connected to the political science discipline will require you to earn a master’s degree. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those who continue into an advanced degree program can become historians, who earned a median of $63,680 in 2019, urban planners, who made a median of $74,350, and political scientists, who earned a robust median of $122,220 that year.

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Once you’ve declared your major in political science, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized political science electives, there are several courses that most political science majors will be required to take, including:

  • Introduction to Political Theory
  • U.S. Government and Civics
  • Law, Politics and Justice
  • Modern Political Thought
  • Religion, Politics and Society
  • Race Relations and Politics
  • Democracy and the State
  • World Politics
  • Political Activism and Protest Movements

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Majoring in political science is a great starting point for a number of different career paths. Governance touches on everything in our lives, from economics, education, and environment to security, history and health. Your degree in political science could give you a chance to contribute to the public well-being in any of these areas. Top jobs for political science majors include the following:

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Related: How to Major in Political Science

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Political Science Degree Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in political science.

How do we determine the best political science liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Influence”.

The influence of a college or university is based on the schools’ top academic influencers related to the discipline in this ranking. We track the influence of faculty and alumni affialiate with these school counting not only the publicaitons and citations of the school’s affiliated people, but we also consider the overall web presense of the faculty and alumni. The greater the citations, authority of web links, web searches, and pageviews, the greater the individuals’ influence. Those combined make up the departments’ influence in the field of study. We believe tracking the academic influence of the people affiliated with a school is the best indicator of academic excellence.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and misuesed performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is more insulated from manipulation, and more reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Ranking: Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Political Science Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

    Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education

    Swarthmore College Political Science Major Subfields

    • American Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Relations
    • Political Theory

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    What is Williams College known for?

    Williams College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry

    Williams College Political Science Majors

    • Political Science – American Politics
    • Political Science – International Relations
    • Political Science – Political Theory
    • Political Science – Comparative Politics

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Amherst College known for?

    Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    Amherst College Political Science Major

    • Political Science – Political Theory
    • Political Science – Domestic Politics and State–Society Relations
    • Political Science – International Politics and Practices

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

    Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wellesley College Political Science Major Subfields

    • American Politics and Law
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Relations
    • Political Theory

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Middlebury College known for?

    Middlebury College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    Middlebury College Political Science Major Concentrations

    • American Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • Political Theory
    • International Relations
    • Foreign Policy

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

    Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wesleyan University Political Science Majors Concentrations

    • Government – American Politics
    • Government – Comparative Politics
    • Government – International Politics
    • Government – (Normative) Political Theory

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is Claremont McKenna College known for?

    Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    Claremont McKenna College Political Science Major

    • Government

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Pomona College known for?

    Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    Pomona College Political Science Major

    • Politics Major and Minor

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Bowdoin College known for?

    Bowdoin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies

    Bowdoin College Political Science Major

    • Government and Legal Studies

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #12

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    What is Barnard College known for?

    Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Barnard College Political Science Major Subfields

    • Political Theory
    • American Government and Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Relations

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #14

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Oberlin College known for?

    Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Oberlin College Political Science Major

    • Politics

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #16

    Davidson College

    Davidson , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1397/31

    What is Davidson College known for?

    Davidson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics

    Davidson College Political Science Majors

    • Political Science

    Subfields:

    • Political Theory
    • American Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Politics
    • Methodology

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #20

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

    Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Haverford College Political Science Major Concentrations

    • American Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Relations
    • Globalization and Global Governance
    • Political Theory

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #21

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Vassar College known for?

    Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Vassar College Political Science Major Concentrations

    • American Politics
    • Comparative Politics
    • International Politics
    • Political Theory

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #24

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

    Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Reed College Political Science Major Concentrations

    • Introduction to Comparative Politics
    • International Relations
    • American Politics and Public Policy”

    Source

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #25

    Bates College

    Lewiston , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Bates College known for?

    Bates College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Bates College Politics Major Concentrations

    • Institutional Politics
    • Identities and Interests
    • Political Economy
    • Philosophical Literary and Legal Studies
    • Security Cooperation and Conflict

    Source

    REQUEST INFO

Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for Political Science programs

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