Political Science

Political Science

If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of political science, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.

Featured Programs

What Is Political Science

Political science studies systems of governance, structures of power, and the various constitutions, laws, and behaviors connected to these systems and structures. Political science students study subjects such as world history, civil rights movements, and race relations.

Back to Top

The Best Colleges and Universities for Political Science Degrees

We rank universities and colleges from around the world based on the scholarly work of their faculty and alumni.

Best Political Science Major Colleges and Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. University of Oxford
  3. Columbia University
  4. Yale University
  5. University of Chicago

For a dynamic, real-time listing of the most influential political science schools in the world, use our Custom College Ranking.

Back to Top

Political Science Degrees

What Will I Study as a Political Science Major?

As a politcial science major, you’ll study topics like U.S. Government, World Politics, Race Relations, Political Activism, and more..

What Can I Do With a Degree in Political Science?

Graduates with a degree in political science can pursue a career as a legislator, political scientist, economist, or urban planner, among others..

If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Political Science

If you’d like to learn more, check out our extensive list of resources for political science students, graduates, and professionals...

Deciding what to study in college can be really difficult. We have developed a comprehensive guide to some of the most popular college majors.

How To Get a Degree in Political Science

Back to Top

Who are the most influential political scientists of all time?

Political science is recognized as an expansive educational discipline, one touching on countless areas of life. This extremely nuanced and complex area of study has been shaped by the influence of pioneers in the field of political science. Below, you will find some of the most influential political scientists of all time.

  1. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King advanced civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
  3. Friedrich Hayek often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism.
  4. John Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition.
  5. B. R. Ambedkar , venerated as Babasaheb , was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer, who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables .
  6. Noam Chomsky , whose influence in both linguistics and political discourse cannot be overstated; regardless of what aspect of his work you are discussing, his name always perks a few ears. Depending on who is describing him, Chomsky is either one of the most important linguists in modern times, one of the most important political thinkers, or (most often) both.
  7. Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.
  8. Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity—especially the Roman Catholic Church—as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
  9. Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement. He was a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and a lifelong advocate for Black empowerment and critic of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.
  10. W. E. B. Du Bois was an American sociologist, socialist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor.
Back to Top

Who Are the Current Top Political Science Influencers?

The following are the top political scientists in the field today according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. Donald Green uses quantitative research methods, especially field experiments, to study voting, political party affiliation, campaign finance, prejudice, and mass media.
  2. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is a political scientist, journalist, writer and academic researcher from Romania. She is the founder of Romania’s most prolific think tank, the Romanian Academy Society, which has promoted greater freedom of information, flat taxation and methods for achieving European Union membership.
  3. Samantha Power worked with then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, advising him on foreign policy. From there, she has served as foreign policy advisor to his presidential campaign, his transition team, on his National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President, and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations
  4. Bernard Grofman has served as a special master to redraw congressional districts in Virginia after a federal judge found evidence of wanton gerrymandering throughout the state, intended to disenfranchise African-Americans. He served in this role both in 2015 and 2018.
  5. Kristian Skrede Gleditsch is an expert in topics such as non-violent demonstration, democracy and conflict.
  6. Alexander J. Motyl is a recognized expert on Russia, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, as well as a professor of political science for Rutgers University. In addition to his extensive work on Russia and Ukraine, he is also an accomplished fiction writer, artist, and poet.
  7. John Mearsheimer is well known for his views on nuclear proliferation and the Middle East. He has held controversial positions on the use of nuclear deterrence (He has advocated for the ongoing nuclearization of Ukraine and Germany as a deterrence against future Russian aggression in the region.
  8. Stephen Walt is known to be critical of America’s propensity for military intervention, and has wondered why it is that American citizens find it so difficult to approve funding for improvements to public infrastructure, schools and health care, but don’t question how much is spent to prop up world governments.
  9. Cass Sunstein is a scholar and teacher of constitutional, environmental, and administrative law, and has written numerous books. As a legal scholar, Sunstein has advocated for a philosophy of judicial minimalism, and a more center-line approach that avoids radical swings in law to the right or left. He has also promoted a re-examination of the First Amendment, feeling that the writers of the First Amendment could not have anticipated the future of communication, suggesting the creation of a “New Deal for speech.”
  10. Jean Blondel is known for his scholarship on comparative politics, and has studied the use of cabinets and legislatures, presidential systems, multiparty political systems, and the ways that governments and parties interact.

Learn more about other influential political scientists.

Interviews with Top Political Scientists

Back to Top

Great Books About Political Science

The following are the most influential books in the field of political science today according to our backstage Ranking Analytics tool, which calculates the influence of various sources in both academics and popular culture using a numerical scoring of citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump by Corey Robin is a history of conservative thought in the European tradition from the eighteenth century to the present. In it, the author claims that the overriding motive of conservative thinkers, despite their explicit statements to the contrary, has been simply to cling to power by maintaining an undemocratic, hierarchical society.
  2. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville documents the travels of the author and his friend Gustave de Beaumont through the United States. The book is considered a masterpiece and a social science classic that set a new standard for the dispassionate description and analysis of social, economic, and political life, not just in the US, but generally.
  3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was intended to illustrate the author’s radically libertarian, if not anarcho-capitalist, philosophical views. It portrays a world in which the creative individuals—the ones who, like Atlas, bear the world on their shoulders—go on strike.
  4. The Federalist Papers: A Collection of Essays Written in Favour of the New Constitution by Alexander Hamilton , James Madison , and John Jay . The book is a collection of 85 articles—written mostly independently, but a few jointly—laying out with careful logic and polished eloquence the case in favor of the confederation among the colonies.
  5. Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum is a detailed history of the USSR’s use of prison camps where criminals and political prisoners were forced to perform hard labor under horrifying conditions in remote locations in Siberia and elsewhere.
  6. Theory of International Politics by Kenneth Waltz is an in-depth analysis of relations among nations and their governments from a variety of different perspectives. These include the conceptual foundations of political theory, the main types of political theories, the principal kinds of empirically existing political structures, the relation between political structures and economic effects, the relation between political structures and military effects, and, finally, the overall management of international affairs.
  7. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray is a detailed discussion, based on careful statistical analyses, of aspects and consequences of the gap in the performance of various ethnic groups on intelligence tests.
  8. Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom by Rebecca MacKinnon takes a detailed look at both the older and more recent histories of the relationship between Internet companies and governance, focusing on the way in which IT companies are gradually usurping the functions of government. It includes a provocative account of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its policy of surveilling and controlling the Chinese population by means of controlling their Internet access.
  9. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam drew attention to a troubling trend in American life that has only grown more acute over the two decades since the book’s publication: namely, a decline by Americans in political involvement, which the author believes is strongly correlated with a decline in participation in local community social activities.
  10. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China by Theda Skocpol . The topic of the book is announced in its subtitle: a comparative history and socio-political analysis of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions. Her method is to examine these three historical episodes in terms of a threefold explanatory framework of state structures, international forces, and class relations.

Learn about other influential political science books.

Back to Top

Controversial Topics in Political Science

Because political science focuses on systems of governance and structures of power, and the laws and behaviors connected to these systems, controversy and heated debate often weaves its way into conversations around these topics. The following controversial topics are related specifically to the political science discipline.

Check out our Career Guidance home page for help taking the next step in your career.

Or get valuable study tips, advice on adjusting to campus life, and much more at our student resource homepage.

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here