Top Political Science Graduate Schools

Find out what to look for when selecting a school with a strong graduate program in political science. Explore three schools with nationally ranked graduate political science programs, review the degrees that each school offers and find out the topics you should expect to learn while pursuing your graduate degree. Schools offering Political Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Political Science Graduate School?

Political science is a broad, interdisciplinary field, so you may find it helpful to matriculate in a large department within a school that has strong programs in related social sciences. If you're interested in a geographic area or a specific topic, examine faculty backgrounds for a good match. Much research is quantitative in a political science program, so you'll want to check out computing facilities and supportive research centers. Look for programs that exhibit active, well-published faculty and strong fellow students.

What Are Three Top Graduate Schools for Political Science?

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI

U.S. News & World Report ranked this university fourth among graduate political science programs in 2013. As a doctoral candidate at UM, you'll focus on methods and modeling, American politics, political theory, public law, comparative politics and world politics. Students can only earn a master's degree as part of the political science doctoral program, or as part of the dual-degree program in law and political science.

The 50 faculty members of this 100-year-old department help support your research, as does UM's 60-year-old Institute for Social Research (ISR). ISR's Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, the Survey Research Center and the Center for Political Studies have strong ties to the field.

Since designation as a national resource in 1977 by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Political Studies at UM has conducted national election studies in over 20 countries. UM's library system includes the Gerald R. Ford Library; this collection specializes in the U.S. since World War II, particularly the Ford presidency. Graduate political science programs offered at UM include:

  • J.D./M.A. in Political Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Political Science

University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC

The University of North Carolina (UNC) was ranked 13th among graduate programs in political science by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Among the UNC political science faculty are Guggenheim, American Political Science Association and National Science Foundation award winners. Their subfields include American politics, methods, comparative politics, international relations and political theory.

According to the UNC website, only 15 students are admitted to the graduate program each year, and most graduate students pursue the department's doctoral program (www.unc.edu). As a graduate student, you'll have many resources at your disposal, such as the American Politics Research Group; the International Relations Research Series; and the Centers for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, European Studies and Latin American Studies. The UNC Study Abroad Office facilitates international travel. Graduate degrees include:

  • Transatlantic Master's Program
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Political Science

University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW) placed 15th in the U.S. News & World Report 2013 rankings for graduate political science programs. As one of the 14-20 students admitted to the UW graduate political science program each year, you'll choose a first and second field of study from American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and political methodology. UW political science grads consistently rank in the top five schools for American Political Science Association dissertation awards. Students win prestigious awards from organizations like the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship program.

You can participate in International Institute offerings or any of several working political science groups, like the Chinese Politics Workshop or the Post-Communist Politics Workshop. The Wisconsin Advertising Project tracks U.S. political advertising in large markets. The Transitional Justice Database Project collects information on human rights issues in emerging democracies. Graduate degrees at UW include:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science (only available to doctoral students)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Political Science

Top Graduate Schools For Political Science Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocation
University of California--San Diego 4-year, Public La Jolla, CA
Emory University4-year, Private Atlanta, GA
University of California--Davis4- year, Public Davis, CA
Ohio State University 4-year, Public Columbus, OH
Cornell University4- year, Private Ithaca, NY
University of Minnesota--Twin Cities 4-year, Public Minneapolis, MN
Texas A&M University--College Station 4-year, Public College Station, TX
Harvard University 4-year, Private Cambridge, MA
Princeton University4-year, Private Princeton, NJ
Stanford University 4-year, Private Stanford, CA

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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