Best Political Science colleges in the U.S. 2021

Studying political science does much more than fill your head with facts that prepare you for greatness on Jeopardy (though some extra bucks would come in handy to pay back those student loans). It provides training in a variety of skills valued by employers and graduate school admissions counselors. As stated by the American Political Science Association:

As a political science major, you will hone the writing, communication, analytical, and data skills that are fundamental to a liberal arts education. This kind of education will prepare you to think critically and independently, help you appreciate differing points of view, and broaden your knowledge of current affairs. Today, students can reasonably expect to change jobs more than once and even have more than one career. An undergraduate education in the liberal arts is excellent preparation for flexibility in employment.

 

Best Political Science colleges in the U.S. for 2021

University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
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Decades before Bernie Sanders made a run at becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, he earned an undergraduate degree in political science and chaired the student chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality at U of C. The turbulent 1960s are over, but applying knowledge gained in the classroom to activities outside of it remains a part of Chicago’s culture. From working with the Partnership for the Advancement of Refugee Rights to organizing movie screenings for the Student Political Forum, students have so many chances to become involved on campus that they hardly have time to notice when winter temps dip below zero.

For those familiar with U of C’s environment, it will come as no surprise that Herbert Simon -- the only political scientist ever awarded a Nobel Prize for his intellectual achievements -- received his doctorate there. As the university boldly and proudly states:

There are only a few places on the planet that are in Chicago's league when it comes to research, teaching, and the intensity of intellectual life. That is why we believe Chicago is one of the most interesting, lively, cutting-edge places to study, research, and teach political science.

With courses covering the spectrum from “Herodotus and Thucydides: History and Politics” to “Violence and Development in Africa” to “Politics in Chicago,” it would be hard to disagree.

Yale University
New Haven, CT
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What do William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush have in common (besides being past U.S. presidents)? All of them were Bulldogs at one time or another. (Rumor has it that Bush Sr. has such fond memories that he kept his old Yale baseball glove in an Oval Office desk drawer during his four years in the White House.)

Today, political science places second only to economics as the most popular major among undergraduates. And if you have a desire to pursue studies that cross departmental boundaries, Yale supports your efforts. Past interdisciplinary concentrations have included urban studies, health politics and policy, political economy, political psychology, and global affairs.

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Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

OK, bet you know where we’re going with this when we toss out the names John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Yes, all of these men graced the hallowed halls of Harvard for either undergraduate studies or to pursue a law or business degree.

Interestingly, Harvard does not possess a traditional political science department. Rather, such instruction falls under the Department of Government. Why set things up this way? (You know a school this prestigious must have a good reason.) According to the department’s FAQ page:

Government incorporates the combined knowledge and methodology of several disciplines – history, economics, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, among others – and applies them to the study of politics. The discipline has porous boundaries, and is therefore an extremely flexible concentration. It allows you to decide the direction of your studies according to your inclinations and interests: globalization, human rights, the U.S. Presidency, war and terrorism, area studies, political philosophy. Additionally, the study of Government will develop your writing and analytical abilities, and prepare you to be a cognizant and responsible citizen in our rapidly changing world.

Don’t worry, though. You’ll still leave well-versed on fundamentals such as American politics and political theory. But along the way, you may choose also to explore courses with intriguing titles such as “Is Democracy Possible Everywhere?” and “The Politics of Climate Change.”

Duke University
Durham, NC

Duke University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city. In 2019, 131 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 106 Bachelor's degrees, 13 Doctoral degrees, and 12 Master's degrees.

Rice University
Houston, TX

Rice University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a medium sized, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city. In 2019, 51 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 39 Bachelor's degrees, 6 Master's degrees, and 6 Doctoral degrees.

Stanford University
Stanford, CA
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Stanford University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large suburb. In 2019, 75 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 57 Bachelor's degrees, 10 Doctoral degrees, and 8 Master's degrees.

Brown University
Providence, RI
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Brown University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a midsize city. In 2019, 90 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 72 Bachelor's degrees, 10 Doctoral degrees, and 8 Master's degrees.

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Northwestern University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a very large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a small city. In 2019, 154 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 123 Bachelor's degrees, 21 Master's degrees, and 10 Doctoral degrees.

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
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Vanderbilt University offers 3 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city. In 2019, 118 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 110 Bachelor's degrees, 5 Master's degrees, and 3 Doctoral degrees.

Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins University offers 5 Political Science and Government, General degree programs. It's a very large, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city. In 2019, 121 Political Science and Government, General students graduated with students earning 64 Master's degrees, 31 Bachelor's degrees, 21 Certificates, and 5 Doctoral degrees.

List of all Political Science colleges in the U.S.

School Average Tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
University of Chicago Logo University of Chicago Chicago, IL
5/5
12 : 1 17,452
Yale University Logo Yale University New Haven, CT
5/5
11 : 1 13,609
Harvard University Logo Harvard University Cambridge, MA
5/5
17 : 1 31,655
Duke University Logo Duke University Durham, NC
5/5
12 : 1 16,686
Rice University Logo Rice University Houston, TX
5/5
10 : 1 7,282
Stanford University Logo Stanford University Stanford, CA
5/5
11 : 1 17,249
Brown University Logo Brown University Providence, RI
5/5
11 : 1 10,333
Northwestern University Logo Northwestern University Evanston, IL
5/5
15 : 1 22,448
Vanderbilt University Logo Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
5/5
11 : 1 13,131
Johns Hopkins University Logo Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
5/5
18 : 1 27,079
Georgetown University Logo Georgetown University Washington, DC
5/5
19 : 1 19,593
Cornell University Logo Cornell University Ithaca, NY
5/5
13 : 1 24,027
University of Pennsylvania Logo University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
5/5
18 : 1 26,675
University of California-Berkeley Logo University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3/5
24 : 1 43,185
Tufts University Logo Tufts University Medford, MA
5/5
14 : 1 11,878
Boston College Logo Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
5/5
17 : 1 14,747
University of Notre Dame Logo University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
5/5
10 : 1 12,683
Washington University in St Louis Logo Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis, MO
5/5
16 : 1 16,191
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Logo University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
4/5
12 : 1 48,090
University of Virginia-Main Campus Logo University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
4/5
16 : 1 25,012