*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Political Scientists, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
Because a Bachelor's degree is considered a four-year degree, if you have already earned your Associate's degree and take a full-time class load it may take you as little as two more years to complete your Bachelor's. If you're taking a half-load of courses, it will take you approximately four additional years.
The cost of your degree will depend entirely on your school of choice and any financial aid you may qualify for. According to the US Department of Education, the total cost for a political science degree averages between $22,000 and $50,000 but much or all of the cost may be offset by grants and scholarships.
Although your specific coursework will be determined by your school of choice as an example the following classes are required by the University of Maryland:
You can't major in political science at a school that doesn't offer the coursework, so this should be a priority when choosing a school. In addition, check to see whether the school offers a graduate program. If it doesn't, verify your Bachelor's degree credits will transfer to another school in case you decide to earn your Master's degree at a later date.
Look closely at the school's website and check the graduation rates. While you may plan to attend part-time, which will take more than four years, the four-year graduation rates will give you an indication of how much support you'll get once you enroll. A low graduation rate may be an indication the school is more interested in enrolling students than in helping them succeed.
Accreditation means the school has reached and maintained national standards of quality education. Both national and regional accreditation are valid, but you want to check with any nationally accredited school to make sure that credits earned there can be transferred to the graduate program of your choice. Some national accreditation is not accepted by regionally accredited institutions. Look up the acronym of the accreditation your school of choice holds and make sure it is widely accepted by grant and scholarship programs as well as employers in your field of choice. The US Department of Education has approved 6 regional agencies within the US.
If the school has great student success it will be easy to find on their website because it's a great selling point. Look closely at the graduation and job placement rates and check if the school has partnerships with major corporations in the area. Don't rely on the college information alone; do web searches for forums and similar discussions about student satisfaction to verify the information promoted by the school itself. Look closely at the job placements listed and make sure they include the type of career you're working towards.
A degree is only a piece of paper if it's not respected by your prospective employer. While online degrees are now a respected form of education, not all schools are created equal, so the research you do before enrollment can make a big difference when you're ready to add your degree to your resume. If you're not sure about a college you should ask the opinion of professionals in your field of choice before enrolling. This way you can verify your degree will be respected and earn you the salary you expect once you graduate.
Also, be sure to pay attention to the general school rating of the institutions you consider. Though not as important as accreditation, this can also affect an employer’s response to your resume and your chances to be interviewed for a job in your chosen field.
Your first step in narrowing your choice of schools should be to carefully check the accreditation of each college. Many schools list their accreditation as an acronym, so research will be required to verify the accrediting organization is legitimate and recognized by the Department of Education. You can go to the federal education website to verify the school and its accreditation are legitimate and accepted for federal financial aid, which is the standard used by most scholarship and grant awards.