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What are the best undergraduate colleges for a political science major?

serenabayserenabay Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
While doing some research I realized that the list for the best political science programs are at places like Harvard, Brown, and other ivies or very selective schools. What kind of schools are other alternatives as those are way out of my reach? I am looking for more in the 25(which is still a stretch) to 75% acceptance rate schools on the east coast

Replies to: What are the best undergraduate colleges for a political science major?

  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,676 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Academics at Holy Cross are as good as anywhere, and the political science program is particularly strong. Jon Favreau, Obama's speechwriter not the actor, is an alum. William and Mary is still very competitive for OOS, but also strong in this area. Robert Gates, James Comey, Jon Stewart, and Jen Psaki are all alums. Wake Forest also has a strong program and a brand-new Wake Washington facility. It's RD acceptance rate was right at 25% last year.


    The Wake the Vote program is also very cool.


    If you want an LAC, Dickinson College is also very strong in political science and related subjects. The school has a very nice campus and a great campus vibe.

    Good luck!
  • CrewDadCrewDad Registered User Posts: 1,721 Senior Member
    edited November 2017

    I listed east coast schools. A number of them have an admission rate >25%. Vassar's admission rate for males is > 25%. Dickinson and Holy Cross are excellent recommendations. Gettysburg has a beautiful campus and you couldn't ask for a better town to spend 4 years.

    Great Schools for Political Science/Government Majors

    American U
    Bryn Mawr
    Holy Cross
    Connecticut College
    Franklin & Marshall
    George Mason
    George Washington
    Wake Forest

    Source: Princeton Review

  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 1,449 Senior Member
    For Political Science with a more friendly acceptance rate but still a good school on the east coasts check out Siena College. Fun basketball too!
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,614 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Virtually every state flagship, LAC, or private research university has a PS (or government) department. At many of them (the larger ones anyway) there may be at least as much variation in quality from course to course (or professor to professor) within the school as there is from college to college across the set of schools you're comparing. IMO, for a bread-and-butter liberal arts major such as political science, a better approach for most HS students is to focus on the overall college quality, net cost, and personal fit.

    One feature that may matter to many PS/government majors is the availability of related internships. For that, a location in DC or NYC could be an advantage. If this is important to you, you might want to check out George Washington, American University, Fordham, or NYU (although the latter does have a reputation for high costs and poor FA.)

    If you're determined to rank by department quality, below are 2 links to graduate PS program rankings. Assuming either of them gets it approximately right, undergraduate programs at some of the mid-high ranked schools should be pretty good (at least w.r.t. faculty research if not teaching quality).

    Those 2 rankings don't include LACs, some of which may offer more consistently small classes and better undergraduate instruction than even some of the highest-ranked universities (but sometimes at the expense of broad/advanced course selection). @CrewDad's Princeton Rev list looks pretty good to me.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,960 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Being in or accessible to state capital can help with semester based internships as well. So, schools as diverse as University of Wisconsin (Madison) to Dickinson, Gettysburg (Harrisburg) and Denison (Columbus).
  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,676 Senior Member
    In another thread, OP indicated that they preferred a campus setting. GWU and NYU are very urban schools, so wouldn't work, though they are excellent for political science. American University has more of a campus but is still pretty urban. Denison might be a good option, and merit aid is more likely there.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,960 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Trinity College in Hartford is another school located in the capital, and has separate campus, not part of city streets. Denison's Lugar program, named for US Senator Lugar who is an alum, has a US legislative track and a foreign affairs track, both of which have an internship component as well as course components.

    A broader question is -- "best" political science department" for what purpose? Being prepared for a Ph.D. program? For the Foreign Service? For law school? Most departments that we researched required coursework in US/International/Political Theory. Beyond that, look at the course offerings, the size of the department, whether the department webpage highlights student and faculty engagement.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    @serenabay, when you say "I am looking for more in the 25 (which is still a stretch) to 75% acceptance rate schools on the east coast", then it would be easiest to look up the universities and liberal arts colleges on the USNWR ranking that are in the #30-60 for LAC's and #40-80 for universities as most will provide excellent political science programs and are obviously less selective than the highly selective schools you referenced.

    If you were able to share your academic profile then it would be easier to provide a sense as to which schools you would have a 25-75% chance of admission.

    Another good resource is Linkedin as you can search by "Employer" such as "United State Senate" or "U.S. Department of State' and a specific college and then you'll see where people that work in political science careers went to college.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    @serenabay, given the specific congressional legislative offices, you probably need to search by Representative or Senator to get the information.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    @serenabay, without knowing your academic profile (ACT/SAT, SAT 2, W and UW GPA, # of AP Courses) and your EC's, its hard to guess as a school that has a 20-25% acceptance rate may be less of a stretch for some applicants.
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