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10 Best Political Sciences Universities


Political science is the third most popular major among all college students — and that number is only expected to rise. A survey released last month by Barnes and Noble College Insight found that Gen Z college students (anyone born after 1995) are more politically engaged than older generations. According to the research, which surveyed 1,500 people from colleges across the country, 95% of those students who were registered said they planned on voting. More research still has shown that the wave of students preparing to enter college are more invested in social justice issues than their Millennial predecessors.

Completing a four-year degree in politics can potentially set graduates up for a career as a government agent, an analyst, a lawyer, a journalist, or, yes, even as a politician. Regardless of your eventual career path, obtaining a degree from one of these top 10 schools will certainly help you get ahead.

1. Harvard University has churned out 7 US presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt.

In this April 30, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy listens while Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg speaks outside the White House in Washington.

Harvard, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a total enrollment of 6,669 students. Founded in 1963, Harvard is the oldest higher level learning institution in the US and perhaps the most prestigious Ivy League school. The university offers undergraduates the ability to major in government and study at their public policy and public administration school, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, named for the former president and alum.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Barack Obama graduated from law school in 1991 — 44th US president
John F. Kennedy graduated in 1940 — 35th US president
John Adams graduated in 1755 — second US president
John Quincy Adams graduated in 1787 — sixth US president
Franklin D. Roosevelt graduated in 1904 — 32nd US president
George W. Bush obtained masters in 1975 — 43rd US president
Al Gore graduated 1969 — former vice president of the United States
Anthony Kennedy graduated in 1961 — former associate justice of the US Supreme Court
John Roberts graduated in 1976 —Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
Antonin Scalia graduated from law school in 1960 — justice of the US Supreme Court

Admission Requirements: Undergraduate hopefuls will need to aim for an SAT score between 1460 and 1590 or an ACT between 32-35.

Single year tuition: $73,800-$78,200

Acceptance Rate: 5%

2. Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, along with both Hillary and Bill Clinton, have degrees from Yale.

Political science is Yale's second largest major and there are more than 50 faculty, 100 PhD students, and over 400 undergraduates in the program. Yale was officially formed in 1718 (then called Yale College) and has gone on to grant degrees to five past US presidents.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

George H.W. Bush graduated in 1948 — 41st US president
George W. Bush graduated in 1968 — 43rd US president
Hillary Clinton graduated in 1973 — former secretary of state
Bill Clinton graduated with a law degree in 1973 — 42nd US president
Gerald Ford graduated in 1941 — 38th US president
John Kerry graduated in 1966 —US senator from Massachusetts, 2004 presidential nominee, secretary of state
William Howard Taft graduated in 1878 — 27th US president, later chief justice of the US Supreme Court
Sonia Sotomayor graduated law in 1979 — Supreme Court justice
Clarence Thomas graduated law in 1974 —Supreme Court justice

Admissions Requirements: Applicants should look to score between a 1460-1580 on the SAT or between a 32-35 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $73,450

Acceptance Rate: 7%

3. Georgetown puts you at the center of the political machine.
University of Georgetown campus.

Politics students who make it through Georgetown's rigorous application requirements will benefit from having a front seat to the action. Unlike the other schools on this list, Georgetown is located in the nation's capital, which means it's just a short train ride away to see how the sausage is made (and access to great potential poly-sci internships).

Georgetown was founded in 1789 and currently has 3,365 undergraduates.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Bill Clinton graduated 1968 — 42nd US president
Richard Durbin graduated in 1966 — Illinois senator, Senate Minority Whip
Kirstjen Nielsen graduated in 1994 — former US Secretary of Homeland Security
General David Petraeus attended from 1994 to 1995 — former CIA director, commander of United States Central Command
Mark Landler graduated in 1987 — White House correspondent, former European economic correspondent, for The New York Times
Denis McDonough graduated in 1996 — chief of staff to Barack Obama

Admissions Requirements: Students should look to score between a 1350-1520 on the SAT or between 30-34 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $52,300

Acceptance Rate: 16%

4. President Trump and all of his children, except Eric, attended The University of Pennsylvania.

Politics majors at the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, take classes in four major subfields: International relations, American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. The school says that the politics department faculty has grown by 50% in the past decade to match the rising interest among undergrads.

Notable Alumni involved in politics:

Donald Trump graduated in 1968 — 45th President of the United States
Noam Chomsky graduated with a PhD in 1955 — political historian
Rod Rosenstein graduated in 1986 — deputy attorney general for the United States Department of Justice
Michael Avenatti graduated class of 1968 — lawyer, brief candidate for president

Admissions Requirements: Students applying to the University of Pennsylvania should try and score between 1420 and 1560 on the SAT or between 32 and 35 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $71,715

Acceptance Rate: 9%

5. Princeton graduate James Madison, widely considered "the father of the Constitution."
Water painting of James Madison.

James Madison, dubbed "the father of the Constitution" by historians, graduated from Princeton in 1771. Since then, the university has educated multiple US presidents, Supreme Court justices, and diplomats.

The university was founded in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1746, and currently enrolls 5,260 students. Princeton's politics department offers classes to undergraduates in American politics, comparative politics, international relations, formal theory and quantitative methods, political theory, and public law.

Notable alumni:

James Madison graduated in 1771 — "Father of the Constitution" and the fourth president of the United States
Woodrow Wilson graduated in 1879 — 28th US president
Samuel Alito graduated in 1972 — current Supreme Court justice
Aaron Burr graduated in 1772 — vice president of the United States
John Doar graduated in 1944 — assistant attorney general in the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice from 1960 to 1967
Donald Rumsfeld graduated in 1954 — US congressman and ambassador to NATO before becoming defense secretary for presidents Ford and George W. Bush

Admissions Requirements: Interested students should look to score between 1430 and 1570 on the SAT or 31 to 35 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $51,870

Acceptance Rate: 6%

6. Though he was technically a transfer student, Columbia still claims former president Barack Obama as its own.
Obama speaking at Barnard College.

Located New York City's Harlem neighborhood and founded in 1754, Columbia is the oldest university in New York and the fifth oldest in the US. The school has graduated impressive political personalities since its inception, with some of the most notable alumni including US founding fathers, John J, and Alexander Hamilton.

Columbia's politics department, founded in 1880, claims to be the first of its kind. Students can choose to study courses focusing on American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Barack Obama graduated in 1983 — 44th US president
Alexander Hamilton graduated in 1778 — US founding father
John J graduated in 1764 — US founding father
William Barr graduated in 1971 — current US attorney general
Eric Holder graduated in 1973 — 82nd US attorney general

Admissions Requirements: Applicants should score between 1410 and 1570 on the SAT or between 31 and 34 on the ACT.

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Single-year tuition: $57,208

7. Stanford University has graduated a president and multiple Supreme Court justices.

Former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Rex Tillerson speaking at Stanford University.

Stanford is located just 35 miles north of San Francisco, near the heart of Silicon Valley. Founded in 1885, the university consistently ranks among the most elite schools in America and has a student body of 7,083 undergraduates.

Politics majors at Stanford can choose from a variety of classes that focus in on both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The university says the politics department, "prepares students not only to be effective citizens but for a large number of contemporary careers which require analytic thinking and the knowledge of sophisticated research methods."

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Herbert Hoover graduated in 1895 — 31st US president
Sandra Day O'Connor graduated in 1950 — Supreme Court justice
William Rehnquist graduated in 1948 — Supreme Court justice
Ron Wyden graduated in 1979 — current US senator from Oregon

Admissions Requirements: Interested students should score between 1390 and 1540 on the SAT or between 32 and 35 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $50,703

Acceptance Rate: 5%

8. The University of Chicago has graduated senators, prime ministers, and advisors to presidents.

Bernie Sanders speaking at University of Chicago politics.

The University of Chicago began in 1890 and has since grown to have an undergraduate student enrollment of 6,306. The university's politics program says it is designed, "to ignite in young people a passion for politics and public service." The program is highlighted by civic engagement opportunities, visiting fellowships, political and public service internships, and a continuous series of public events.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

William Lyon Mackenzie King graduated 1897 — Canadian prime minister
Bernie Sanders graduated 1964 — US senator from Vermont
Robert Bork graduated 1948 — US attorney general
David Axelrod graduated in 1977 — advisor to President Barack Obama

Admissions Requirements: While students are not required to submit an SAT or ACT, if they do, they should aim for the respective scores — 1480-1580 SAT or 32-35 ACT.

Single-year tuition: $49,734

Acceptance Rate: 8%

9. Duke University educated Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon shortly after winning reelection in 1972.

Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina, and was founded in 1838. Duke says its graduates have gone on to work in think tanks, consulting firms, as journalists, and for local, state, and federal governments.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Richard Nixon graduated law school in 1937 — 37th US president
Ricardo Lagos graduated in 1963 — former president of Chile
Rand Paul graduated Duke medical school in 1988 — current US senator for Kentucky
Martin Dempsey in graduated 1984 — former chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff

Admissions Requirements: Students should try to score between 1380 and 1540 on the SAT or between 31 and 35 on the ACT.

Single-year tuition: $53,744

Acceptance Rate: 10%

10. Northwestern University brought us Stephen Colbert.
Stephen Colbert speaking at Northwestern

Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, and has just over 8,000 students. Politics is one of the biggest and best departments at Northwestern, with 60 faculty and more than 550 undergraduates. The university claims to have over 100 different politics course to choose from.

Talk show host and political commentator Stephen Colbert graduated from Northwestern in 1986 and went back to give the commencement speech in 2001.

Notable alumni involved in politics:

Stephen Colbert graduated in 1986 — political television personality
George McGovern received a Ph.D in 1953 — former US senator from South Dakota and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate
Cody Keenan graduated in 2002 — former speechwriter for President Barack Obama
Rod Blagojevich graduated in 1979 — former governor of Illinois currently serving a 14-year prison sentence

Admissions Requirements: Students should score between 1420 and 1560 on the SAT or between 32 and 34 on the ACT to be considered.

Single-year tuition: $52,239

Acceptance Rate: 9%

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