11 Best Political Science Schools 2024 - Rankings & Fees

Top political science schools
May 13, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/10/24

Are you interested in studying political science? If so, this article will give you 11 of the best schools to consider.

Political science is a field that delves into the intricacies of power, governance, and societal dynamics, making it a crucial discipline for understanding and shaping the world we live in. Choosing the right university is a critical decision for students aspiring to study political science. This article explores some of the best political science schools that offer exceptional political science programs.

Best Schools for Political Science

Here are the initial stats for the top political science schools:

School Location Tuition Acceptance Rate
Stanford University Stanford, CA $65,127 3.91%
Harvard University Cambridge, MA $56,550 3.59%
Princeton University Princeton, NJ $62,400 4.50%
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA $15,276 11.73%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $17,228 (Residents)
$58,072 Non-Residents
Yale University New Haven, CT $67,250 3.73%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA $61,990 4.52%
Columbia University New York City, NY $68,400 3.85%
University of California - San Diego La Jolla, San Diego, CA $19,674 (Residents)
$34,200 (Non-Residents)
Duke University Durham, NC $66,325 5.15%
University of Chicago Chicago, IL $63,801 4.77%

Now that we have provided a brief introduction, keep reading for a deep dive into the country’s best political science schools. 

1. Stanford University

Stanford University
U.S News Ranking #3 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 3.91%
Average GPA 3.95
Average SAT Score 1505
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $65,127

Stanford University is a beacon of academic excellence and innovation, offering students a remarkable environment for intellectual growth and achievement. Located in the heat of California's Silicon Valley, the university has gained a reputation for its strong emphasis on interdisciplinary education and groundbreaking research. 

With state-of-the-art facilities, a vibrant campus community, and a commitment to fostering critical thinking and global engagement, Stanford attracts students worldwide who seek to excel in their chosen fields. 

Regarding political science, Stanford University's program is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. The department boasts a distinguished faculty comprising leading scholars and experts in their respective fields, ensuring students receive a high-quality education from some of the brightest minds in political science. 

Its commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration sets Stanford's Political Science apart, allowing students to integrate knowledge and methodologies from various disciplines. This focus allows students to develop a holistic underling of political systems and challenges, equipping them with the tools to approach complex issues from multiple angles. 

2. Harvard University

Harvard University
U.S News Ranking #3 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 3.59%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1520
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $56,550

Harvard University, established in 1636, is a prestigious Ivy League school known for its rigorous academic standards and distinguished faculty. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and professional fields. 

Harvard's campus is home to iconic landmarks like Harvard Yard and Widener Library. The university promotes a rich intellectual environment, fostering critical thinking, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Harvard graduates are highly sought after and have significantly contributed to academics, business, politics, and other fields.

Harvard's political science program is renowned for its excellence and academic rigor. The program emphasizes critical thinking and analytical skills and encourages students to explore complex political issues from multiple perspectives. The program offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide range of topics. 

Additionally, Harvard's resources are unparalleled, providing students access to extensive research facilities, libraries, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Harvard's political science program graduates are well-equipped to make significant contributions to academia, government, and the global political landscape.

3. Princeton University

Princeton University
U.S News Ranking #1 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 4.5%
Average GPA 3.95
Average SAT Score 1518
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $62,400

Princeton is another Ivy League school established in 1746 in Princeton, New Jersey. It has emerged as one of the world's leading educational institutions, with a rich history spanning over two centuries. Princeton has cultivated a legacy of scholarship, innovation, and societal impact. 

The Princeton campus itself exudes a sense of history and tradition. From the grandeur of Nassau Hall, the university's oldest building, to the tranquil beauty of its gardens and courtyards, the campus serves as a backdrop for exchanging ideas and pursuing knowledge.

Princeton University's political science program stands out as a powerhouse in the field, offering students a transformative educational experience and setting them toward becoming impactful leaders in politics, policy, and academia. 

The program's curriculum is designed to comprehensively understand political systems, institutions, and theories. From comparative politics and international relations to political theory and public policy, students gain a well-rounded education that equips them with a broad range of analytical tools and frameworks.

4. University of California - Berkeley

University of California - Berkeley
U.S News Ranking #15 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 11.73%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1415
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $15,276

The University of California, Berkeley, commonly known as UC Berkeley, is a renowned public research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868, it has emerged as one of the top-ranked universities in the world. Berkeley offers diverse academic programs, including arts and humanities, sciences, and business. 

Its distinguished faculty comprises leading scholars, Nobel laureates, and industry experts who provide students with a stimulating learning environment. Berkeley's research endeavors are at the forefront of groundbreaking discoveries and technological advancements. The campus is situated in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area.

The University of California, Berkeley's political science program stands out as a distinguished and influential academic pathway. Berkeley's politically dynamic San Francisco Bay Area location provides students with unique opportunities for experiential learning and engagement in real-world politics. 

The university's commitment to social justice and activism further enhances the program's value, empowering students to connect theory with practice and make a meaningful impact in their communities. 

5. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
U.S News Ranking #21 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 17.94%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1435
Average ACT Score 33
In-State Tuition $17,228

The University of Michigan, also known as U-M or Michigan, was founded in 1817. U-M offers various academic programs, including arts and sciences, engineering, business, and healthcare. At the heart of U-M's success is its distinguished faculty. They bring knowledge and experience to the classroom, fostering an intellectually stimulating student environment. 

The vibrant and dynamic campus has state-of-the-art facilities and a rich cultural and artistic scene. U-M also boasts a diverse and inclusive community, fostering an environment where students from different backgrounds can learn and grow together. Its programs, initiatives, and support services reflect the university's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

U-M Ann Arbor’s political science faculty consists of accomplished scholars, researchers, and practitioners actively shaping political discourse. Their expertise covers various areas, including comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and public policy. 

U-M's location in Ann Arbor provides a unique advantage to political science students. The city's vibrant political climate and proximity to state and local government institutions create opportunities for experiential learning, internships, and engagement in real-world political activities.

6. Yale University

Yale University
U.S News Ranking #5 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 3.73%
Average GPA 4.13
Average SAT Score 1515
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $67,250

Yale is a prestigious Ivy League university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701. It is one of the oldest institutions in the United States. Yale is committed to intellectual exploration and offers programs across various disciplines. Examples of just a few fields they offer include arts and sciences, engineering, business, law, medicine, and more. 

The university follows a liberal arts education model, emphasizing critical thinking, interdisciplinary studies, and intellectual curiosity. Yale's campus is spread across 345 acres and is architecturally diverse, blending Gothic-style buildings with modern facilities.

Yale's political science program is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to engage in independent research projects, collaborate with faculty on research initiatives, and participate in fieldwork or internships. 

Yale encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the study of politics. Students can explore connections between political science and other disciplines, such as economics, history, sociology, and psychology.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S News Ranking #2 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 4.52%
Average GPA 4.19
Average SAT Score 1543
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $61,990

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT strongly focuses on science, engineering, technology, business, and related fields. It is consistently ranked among the top universities globally and is recognized for its contributions to scientific advancement and technological breakthroughs. 

The institution actively promotes research and initiatives that tackle pressing issues such as climate change, sustainability, healthcare, poverty, and education.

While MIT is widely recognized for its excellence in science, engineering, and technology, its political science program is also highly regarded for several reasons. One key factor is the program's unique integration of quantitative analysis and scientific methodologies into the study of political phenomena. 

MIT's political science curriculum emphasizes rigorous data analysis, mathematical modeling, and computational approaches to gain deeper insights into political behavior, institutions, and policy-making. This interdisciplinary approach equips students with a strong analytical toolkit, allowing them to explore complex political issues from a scientific perspective.

8. Columbia University

Columbia University
U.S News Ranking #12 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 3.85%
Average GPA 4.15
Average SAT Score 1524
Average ACT Score 35
In-State Tuition $68,400

Columbia University, located in New York City, has a rich history and is known for its global reach. It offers programs in the arts and sciences, engineering, business, law, journalism, public health, and international affairs. 

Columbia's location in the heart of Manhattan offers unique advantages. The university is surrounded by a thriving cultural and business hub, providing students access to internships, research opportunities, and networking connections across industries. 

Situated in the vibrant city of New York, Columbia offers unique advantages for political science students. The city serves as a political, economic, and cultural epicenter, providing students with access to internships, networking opportunities, and exposure to real-world political dynamics. 

Additionally, the university emphasizes the importance of understanding political issues from a global perspective and encourages students to explore international relations, comparative politics, and global governance.

9. University of California - San Diego

University of California - San Diego
U.S News Ranking #28 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 24.7%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1360
Average ACT Score 28
In-State Tuition $19,674

UC San Diego is a public research university in La Jolla, California, known for its academic excellence, cutting-edge research, and stunning coastal setting. 

This UC school is recognized for its emphasis on research and experiential learning. They offer degrees in arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, and more.

UC San Diego's political science program strongly emphasizes empirical analysis and data-driven research. The department emphasizes quantitative research methods and provides students with training in statistical analysis, survey design, and computational approaches. 

This emphasis on empirical analysis equips students with the tools to critically analyze political phenomena, conduct original research, and make evidence-based arguments.

10. Duke University

Duke University
U.S News Ranking #7 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 5.15%
Average GPA 4.13
Average SAT Score 1510
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $66,325

Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, was founded in 1838. The university is nestled on a picturesque campus with stunning Gothic architecture, landscaped gardens, and serene surroundings. 

The university offers law, medicine, business, engineering, public policy, and humanities programs. Duke University strongly emphasizes global engagement and provides numerous opportunities for students to gain international experience.

Duke's political science program boasts a distinguished faculty and emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Duke's location in the vibrant Research Triangle Park offers unique opportunities for students to engage with government agencies, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations.

11. University of Chicago

Duke University
U.S News Ranking #12 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 4.77%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1520
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $63,801

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 and is known for its commitment to free and open inquiry and its strong tradition of scholarship and innovation across various disciplines. 

It is renowned for its rigorous academic programs, particularly in economics, law, business, social sciences, and the humanities. The university's faculty includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and leading scholars.

The Chicago School of Political Science is renowned for its commitment to intellectual freedom and open inquiry. The political science program encourages students to critically examine prevailing assumptions, challenge established theories, and debate thoughtfully. 

Located in a city with a rich political history and dynamic political landscape, the University of Chicago offers students unique opportunities to engage with local, national, and global political institutions.

How to Choose Which Political Science School to Apply

Before applying to a school you should do extensive research. Choosing the right political science school involves considering factors like reputation, curriculum, location, campus culture, and affordability. Research schools with good political science programs, and visit campuses if possible, and assess costs and financial aid options. You can find the best fit for your academic and career goals by evaluating these factors.

FAQs: Top Political Science Schools

Here are some common questions about the best schools for political science.

1. What College Has the Best Political Science Major?

Columbia University  has one of the best political science majors, followed by Harvard and Yale University. 

2. Is Political Science a Respected Degree?

Yes, political science is generally respected as a degree. It's valued for the critical thinking, research, and analytical skills it fosters, which are useful in various fields like government, law, business, academia, and journalism. 

However, the level of respect can vary depending on factors like the institution's reputation, the specific career path, and individual perceptions within different communities or industries.

3. How Competitive Is a Political Science Major?

The competitiveness of a political science major can vary. It's not as competitive as some specialized fields like medicine or engineering, but it can still be competitive, especially at top universities or for prestigious programs. 

Factors like the school's reputation, the demand for political science graduates, and individual academic performance can influence competitiveness. Overall, it's competitive enough to encourage students to work hard and stand out, but it's also a field where dedication and passion can lead to success.

Final Thoughts

Political science offers a diverse and dynamic landscape, and choosing the right university can greatly impact one's academic and professional journey. The universities highlighted in this article, including Yale, MIT, and Harvard, represent some of the best institutions for studying political science. 

These universities stand out for their distinguished faculty, interdisciplinary approaches, research opportunities, global perspectives, and vibrant intellectual communities.

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