Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science is a good investment in your future. Political science is a versatile field that branches off into several possible career paths. If you want to study abroad but you’re on a budget, consider these five universities. They offer excellent political science programs with an affordable price tag.

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Studying political science opens the door to many different jobs, but it can also lead to mountains of debt. On average, the tuition for a political science (also known as “poli-sci”) Bachelor’s Degree in the United States costs $37,000-$48,000 per year. Added to that will be your living expenses and study material costs. SchoolApply's comprehensive and easy-to-use online application service will help you narrow down the political science course options that fit your budget and are offered at the study abroad destination of your choice.

The basics of studying Political Science

During political science studies, you will research and analyze fundamental issues affecting the world, such as international trade, government policies and laws, economics and globalization. Political science looks at every aspect that impacts the wellbeing of nations, such as the education and health care systems, and the general employment situation. This is a superb Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree for people who are curious about the world and current events.

Career options and salary prospects

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salaries for political scientists in the US ranged from $47,000 to $162,000 in 2015. This includes both entry-level political science jobs as well as posts that require a Master’s Degree.

Studying political science is a natural first step if you dream of going into politics. Entry-level jobs in the government include being a lobbyist assistant or a political campaign staff member. From there you can advance to a position like political campaign manager or lobbyist. As per the BLS data, the 2016 median income of lobbyists was just over $66,000. If you do plan on going into politics, consider earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering as well – this way you can come up with creative solutions and shape policy from an important perspective.

Other possible jobs for political science majors right out of college include becoming a teacher, a journalist or a public relations specialist. Elementary school teachers earned a median salary of almost $55,000 in 2015 according to the BLS. The salaries for journalists during that same year ranged from $21,000 to $81,000. Public relations specialists earned about $57,000 on average. Additional career paths include going into business – poli-sci graduates often have great communication skills and a good understanding of economics. A legal career is also possible, though becoming a lawyer requires continuing on to law school. Keep in mind that these salary figures are just rough estimates of what you can expect to earn with a political science degree. They also only refer to jobs in the USA, so salaries elsewhere may be lower or higher depending on the country’s economy.

A 2015 UK Higher Education International Unit study compared the graduation outcomes of international students versus those who stayed in their home country. The study found that international graduates not only were less likely to be unemployed, but also earned more in six out of nine occupations. Skills and industry knowledge aren’t enough in an increasingly globalized economy. Adaptability and cultural understanding are important qualities when working with professionals from all walks of life, and these are skills that you develop when you study abroad. An international education is an investment with returns that you benefit from after you graduate and throughout your career. Whatever your motivations are for earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science abroad, the most important thing is that you take advantage of the opportunity so that you are more employable and more well-rounded after you earn your degree.

Studying political science abroad

While a university in your home country might offer a political science degree, the majority of the most prestigious universities – along with the top programs – are located abroad. Foreign universities in countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, the UAE, and Ireland are well-known for their notable reputation and great education. An investment in an international Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science could be the smartest move you make for your future – and it will give you a competitive advantage if you decide to pursue a professional career at home. While abroad, be sure to ask about the internship and work-study programs your school can connect you to and take full advantage of the school’s career services. Engaging in these opportunities does more than just add a nice item on your resume, it also proves to future employers that you’re not afraid to take initiative. 

SchoolApply lists various Political Science programs offered across the US, UK, Canada and Ireland

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Affordable political science universities 

While studying at university always requires a financial investment of some amount, there are some well-reputed schools that offer political science degrees at a lower price. Here are our top picks for affordable political science programs in the US, the UK and Canada.

San Jose State University 

San Jose State University (SJSU) is a bustling institution of 30,000 students, located in the famous Silicon Valley in Northern California. SJSU was founded in 1857 and is ranked among the top 200 American universities. Considering these facts, SJSU’s political science program is a bargain at $16,306 per year.

In addition to other topics, the major includes instruction in political philosophy and theory, political parties and interest groups, and the politics of different countries. This international approach makes SJSU a particularly good match for international students.

“San Jose State University provides a lot of services to support international students. The International Students and Scholars Office provides advising and counseling services. The counseling service department provides help to all students for free. I met a counselor there to talk about adapting to my new environment and the cultural differences that I was encountering. She is such an amazing person and always comes up with a lot of brilliant ideas.” - Yi Wu, originally from China, graduated from SJSU in 2019

Western State Colorado University

Another solid US-based option is Western State Colorado University (WSCU), located in the small town of Gunnison in Colorado. The school has about 2,500 students who represent 15 different countries. Western's classrooms average about 17 students to a class, which means professors get to know every student and provide personal guidance and support. A majority of Western’s professors have the highest degree in their profession, which means you get high-quality instruction directly from your professor, as opposed to teaching assistants.

There are four possible poli-sci Bachelor’s Degrees you can choose from at WSCU. There is a basic option called “Politics & Government,” but the most international option is a program called “Politics & Government: Global Studies.” This is ideal for students who are interested in human rights issues and the social movement of people. A year at WSCU comes with a price tag of $18,096, meaning you pay about half of what you normally would for college in the US.

Carleton University

Affordable political science programs can also be found just north of the US border, in Canada. The political science degree that Carleton University offers costs $24,000 CAD, which is roughly $18,600 USD. Carleton’s students have the added benefit of studying in Ottawa, Canada’s capital – this means they can get a close look at national and international politics.

The university’s political science program is very comprehensive. It includes researching international relations, transitions to democracy, globalization and the culture of politics. Carleton also has a Bachelor’s Degree program called Global Politics, which might be interesting to students who have their sights set on working for the United Nations or other international NGOs. This program focuses on the politics of war and peace, ethnic conflicts and environmental issues. At Carleton, students can pursue an Honors program, typically completed in four years, or opt for a General program, which can be completed in three years.

On campus, Carleton has more than 28,000 full- and part-time students, 2,000 faculty and staff, and offers 200 clubs and activities. Carleton is home to students from over 140 countries and takes pride in fostering a warm and welcoming environment for students from around the world. The university has established a range of student services to help international students transition successfully into university life. This includes the support students receive before they arrive on campus and throughout their time at Carleton.

Carleton offers an unlimited number of renewable Undergraduate Entrance Scholarships. All incoming high school students who meet the academic and language requirements are automatically considered for these as part of the admissions process. The scholarship amount is based on the applicant’s previous academic performance, and they range from $1,000 to $16,000 CAD over four years. Carleton also offers Prestige Awards that are more competitive but are worth more scholarship money.

Middlesex University

The Times’ Good University Guide 2017 ranked Middlesex to be London’s top modern university. Boasting 145 different student nationalities, it’s also one of the most diverse institutions in the world. The political science program at Middlesex University in north London costs just $11,500 USD per year. The university’s poli-sci program focuses on the study of political institutions and philosophy, comparative government, public opinion and the politics of specific countries.

London South Bank University

If you really want to study political science in the heart of it all, the centrally located London South Bank University (LSBU) is the place for you. The tuition fees are slightly higher than those of Middlesex at £12,900, or about $17,200 USD. The Sunday Times League Table 2016 ranked LSBU as the best modern university in London for its graduate career prospects and the highest graduate starting salaries.

LSBU offers a Bachelor’s Degree in politics, which examines the key political issues affecting today’s global community. The program combines political science and theory as well as international relations. Professors use applied teaching methods that provide students with real-world experience and puts them at an advantage in the eyes of future employers. Instructors at LSBU have expert backgrounds and practical work experience from which they draw upon to give their students the best possible academic experience in a student-led environment.  

LSBU offers a multitude of student scholarships, bursaries and loans to international students to aid them in financing their higher education abroad. The university has even committed over £1 million to their new International Scholarships Programme, which offers £1,000 to overseas students that meet LSBU’s eligibility requirements. First-year international students are guaranteed accommodation at LSBU if they meet the eligibility requirements and apply for housing in a timely fashion.

Minimizing the cost of studying abroad

If attending university abroad is a goal you strive to accomplish, then the financial hurdles shouldn’t get in your way. With the variety of scholarship, loan and financial aid options that are available, you are sure to find a way to finance your political science studies at a college outside of your home country. There are also different ways that you can save money once you’ve been accepted and started your studies in your host country. Here is how you can minimize your costs while you study abroad:

  • Airfare: To minimize your travel expenses you should consider booking flights with budget airlines that offer fewer services but will still get you to your destination. You can also keep an eye out for special offers from big-name airlines like Lufthansa, Delta and Swiss. Try to book your flights as early as possible. You can also search online for student travel agencies such as Student Universe or STA Travel. Don’t forget to sign up for a student discount card such as the International Student Identity Card. 
  • Tuition: Many countries, universities and organizations offer financial aid, scholarships and student loans to help you finance your education – make sure you research the eligibility requirements for these cost-cutting options.
  • Accommodation & food: Student housing on campus is usually the cheapest way to live while studying abroad. However, many students eventually opt to move off campus. When you do, find a roommate (or two) so you can split the cost of rent, utilities and groceries. If you live on campus, students are usually offered a range of university meal plans to choose from; those who live off campus are on their own. Find out whether there are discount or wholesale supermarkets in your area where you can purchase food and household items at a lower cost, and don’t underestimate the power of paying with coupons! 
  • School supplies & textbooks: Every student needs school supplies! Check to see if there are student discounts offered at bookstores and supermarkets where you can purchase stationery and other school-related items. Used textbooks are often much cheaper than buying new ones, and you can get cash back by selling them back to the school’s bookstore or selling them to other students online when you’re done using them.
  • Health: It is imperative that you obtain health insurance to cover the cost of any illness, injuries or medical condition that you may incur while studying abroad. Many health insurance companies have specialized international student health plans that cater to the specific needs of students living away from home. Universities often offer student health insurance plans at affordable rates.  
  • Personal expenses: There are a few personal expenses that you definitely want to budget for. Before you hit the mall, check bulletin boards, the school newspaper and local online forums – someone is bound to be selling exactly what you need. If you are in need of some proper winter clothing – or any clothing for that matter – head to your local thrift store or search for garage/yard sales around your area. They are perfect places to purchase not only clothes, but also decoration pieces, furniture and appliances at very cheap prices. Do not forget about entertainment expenses. Set aside some money so you can have some fun! Places like movie theaters, restaurants and concert venues often offer student discounts. 

Don’t let the cost of political science programs abroad scare you off. We’ve already found the schools that offer you the best value for money, we can help you with the next step as well, which is applying to the college of your choice! Contact SchoolApply today and one of our expert education advisors will guide you through the entire process of applying to political science programs abroad, and we can even advise you when it comes to searching for scholarships and financial assistance.