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Where Can I Find Free Online Political Science Courses?

You can study political science online for free through several accredited colleges and universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California -Irvine. Classes include a number of assignment and exam materials you can review to test your knowledge. Keep reading to find out what you can learn and what materials you might need to complete these courses.

What You Need to Know

You don't have to be an aspiring political scientist, politician or political employee to take political science courses. Knowledge of the field is useful in many professions, including business, public relations, journalism, law and marketing. Online, you can find free, noncredit political science courses that allow you to study at your own pace. These courses generally feature lecture notes and some course readings, but you might need to purchase textbooks to get the most out of these offerings. You have the opportunity to complete research papers for your own pleasure, but these aren't mandatory. Since these classes are the adapted, free versions of actual on-campus courses, you won't have access to the instructors who originally taught the classes.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

You can use MIT's OpenCourseWare site to access a number of free political science course, including Foundations of Political Science and Political Science Scope and Methods. Classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are offered.

Foundations of Political Science

This MIT course was originally taught to graduate students on campus. You can access exams, assignments and course materials for free and set your own study schedule.

What Will I Learn?

You will learn basic political science theories and focus on concepts, such as political ideologies, institutions, social divisions and participation. This course covers American and comparative politics, as well as the politics of international relations.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

You will write six papers analyzing topics and answering questions presented in the course's weekly readings. Completing the assignments isn't required because you won't communicate with instructors.

What Materials Are Provided?

This course provides lecture notes on topics, such as democracy and social choice, collective action and global society. You may access six examples of student papers and purchase course textbooks through a link on the course's webpage.

Political Science Scope and Methods

Another OCW course, MIT's Political Science Scope and Methods course originated as a for-credit course offered to undergraduate students on campus. You can study course content, such as lecture notes, readings, and assignments.

What Will I Learn?

This course covers political science research methods and trains you to conduct research projects independently. You will also learn to think critically about the design and conclusions of political research projects.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

You have the option to write a 2-page paper describing a research project, a 15-page literature review and a final 20-25 page project proposal. As part of another assignment, you will answer three questions on political science topics and describe your sources.

What Materials Are Provided?

This course includes lecture notes on research methods, data gathering and political science models. You may also download guidelines for the research project and access course readings.

University of California (UC) - Irvine

UC Irvine's Political Science 61A: Minority Politics is an OCW course based on a class that Professor Luis DeSipio taught to students on campus. You can study all course content for free and download materials for later study.

What Will I Learn?

You will examine the political roles of minority groups in America, such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. The course also covers the role of race and ethnicity in America's political system.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

You could write two essays - one on the impact of two pieces of landmark legislation on current minority politics and another on minority voting in presidential politics. The course also includes two essay questions on the topics of pluralism and minority political exclusion.

What Materials Are Included?

This course provides lecture notes on several topics, including pan-ethnicity, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the 14th and 15th amendments. Other materials include links to political advertisements and census questions on race and ethnicity.