*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 4, 2022).
In most cases, a Bachelor of Science in Politics degree requires 120 credits. As a full-time student, you can complete 30 credits per year, meaning you would earn your degree over the course of four years. If you are a motivated student, there are a few options available to help you earn your degree sooner.
Some schools have accelerated Politics Bachelors programs that put students on the fast track to earning their degree. This can reduce the four-year time frame by up to 30%. If an accelerated program is too much to handle, you may be able to benefit from year-round learning. Year-round learning is continuous schooling all year long, with no summer break. This type of education allows you to finish your degree earlier and get started in your career faster. If you took AP courses in high school, you may be able to count them toward your college credits, which can in turn, reduce your time and the costs of schooling.
Before choosing a major there are some important facts you should know about.
When you know that you want to major in Politics, you should find out if the colleges and universities you’re most interested in carry this major. You should check the academic catalogs of each university to verify which ones do carry a Politics major and verify with your state’s department of education that the colleges you’re considering offer the appropriate Politics education program you need for your field.
If a university you’re considering doesn’t carry a Politics major, then it’s time to cross that school off your list. Keep checking the other schools. For those that do have an Politics major, begin looking over their programs so you get a better idea which university interests you the most.
Before you declare a major in Politics, you should have an idea of what kind of timeframe you’re looking at. If you are trying to achieve an associate degree, you will only need to finish about 60 credit hours over 2 years. However, if you are going for you bachelor's (B.S. or B.A.) degree in Politics, you will need to complete 120 credit hours over four years. And, if you want to attain a master’s degree as well, you will have to finish your bachelors first and then spend around 2 years completing 60 more credit hours. Some of the coursework you will find in typical Politics degrees are:
These days fewer and fewer students graduate in four years. In fact, the government now sets the bar at a six-year term from starting a degree to graduation. Accredited programs in Politics, on the other hand, are more likely to graduate in 4-5 years. That is because those programs are more competitive, and studies have shown that students in highly competitive programs have more success with graduating in four years (or less.) Keep it mind there are also other determining factors that play a role in how long it takes to graduate like full time vs part time, funding for college, working at the same time (can potentially decrease how many credit hours you can take) etc. A good goal to shoot for is to graduate within 4 to 6 years.
Your school's accreditation is an important aspect of getting your Bachelor of Science in Politics degree. The two most common forms of accreditation are regional and national.
Regional accreditation is the most recognized and most prestigious available. Because of this label, these colleges often have higher tuition and have more competitive admission standards. Regional accreditation accounts for over 85% of colleges across the United States. There are 6 different regions, including:
MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)
NAC (Northwest Accreditation Commission)
SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)
National accreditation is less common. National accreditation agencies oversee the accreditation process for career, vocational, and trade schools across the United States. As a result, these schools tend to be less expensive, require less general coursework, and feature a more practical, career-oriented curriculum. Because it is less structured, schools are only reviewed every 3-5 years to ensure that they still meet accreditation requirements.
Accreditation is an important part of the selection process. It adds value to a B.S. in Politics degree by offering wider acceptance than degrees from non-accredited schools receive. Accreditation ensures employers and other reviewers of your educational background that you have a quality education in Politics. It informs potential employers that the graduate has the expected level of education and knowledge to perform work in today’s high-paced, technology-driven environments.
The Department of Education designates regional and national accreditation agencies. It is also through this department that educational loans and grants are provided to college students. The federal policy is to limit student loans to schools and colleges with acceptable accreditation. Which means that, if your school isn’t accredited, you will likely not be eligible to receive any financial aid. For many students, accreditation is key to getting funds to pay for the substantial costs of a degree in Politics.
Estimates for the costs of a Politics degree run from $15,000 to $100,000 per year depending on the university and its tuition charges. Community colleges and public universities charge lower rates for in-state students than out-of-state students. The difference can be remarkable.
Based on all schools and all majors, some estimates that can help guide the student. Data from the College Board and the NCES provide ranges for costs that add tuition, living expenses, and fees into price ranges. Based on 2017 data, the costs of a four-year degree at a public school is in the range of $85,000 for in-state students, $150,000 for out-of-state students, and $190,000 for private school students. When projected to the year 2019 through 2020 one can anticipate an increase in the area of three to four percent. These prices seem high of course and in many cases most students are not paying the full amount of tuition because they are receiving financial aid. When applying to the school of your choice also reach out to them to discuss scholarship and grant opportunities to help pay for your Politics education.
Schools can provide valuable assistance for Politics graduates that seek employment after graduation. The programs can be formal, such as job banks and employment centers that present graduating students and graduate credentials to prospective employers and host interviews.
Depending on the college, they may have resources that can enhance employment and career opportunities for their Politics graduates. Most schools have an extended community of alumni, donors, and corporate and business support. Alumni groups offer opportunities for networking as well as for sharing information and experiences. The corporate and business community support may include opportunities for internships or other hands-on learning experiences.