3 leading European universities for political science

Central European University – Department of Political Science
Source: Central European University

Wars and conflict still plague our world, and the effects of global warming are piling up, so the need for confident and well-equipped leaders is evident. If you think deeply about how peace processes evolve or ponder how to combat the challenges of globalisation, perhaps you could contribute crucial insights that make an impact on policy and practice. With a political science master’s, you could be the one to help tackle hard-hitting subjects from political economy and democratisation to human rights and party politics. 

Postgraduate students in political science often engage in intensive research projects, contributing to the academic discourse and expanding the body of knowledge in the field. These programmes also emphasise critical thinking, strategic analysis, and effective communication — essential skills for leadership roles in government, international organisations, research institutions, and think tanks. Besides being in the government, this degree could land you a position at the United Nations, EU institutions, KPMG, IPSOS, and the world’s top universities as well.

Central European University

Source: Central European University

Central European University

Vienna, the Austrian capital that lies between the foothills of the Alps and the Carpathians, is the home of Central European University. Like its name, the city is centrally positioned in Europe, a great location made better by its high quality of living. Many students fall in love with the multicultural metropolis, especially its many historical transformations, well-connected transport links, and features that make it the world’s most liveable city in eight out of the last 10 editions of The Economist’s annual index.

CEU’s Vienna campus is located in Favoriten, the Austrian capital’s multicultural 10th district and one of the city’s most diverse locales. It’s a fitting setting for its Department of Political Science, known for its 7:1 faculty-to-student ratio. Students come from all over the world to this department to pursue programmes such as the One-year MA Programme in Political Science and the Two-year MA Programme in Political Science. Both bear Austrian (EU) and US accreditation.

Not long after arriving, they soon find they have the keen attention and commitment of their faculty to help them achieve personal growth and development. Together, they challenge the status quo answers to questions such as “why do modern autocrats need elections?” “will populism be reinforced by new technologies?” “what makes some social movements more successful than others?” “Does inequality undermine democracy?”.This is expected of a department that’s currently ranked 26th in QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 for Politics. With a strong reputation and faculty support, the vast majority of 2022 graduates are either employed or pursuing further studies. They’re set to follow in the footsteps of previous alumni who have forged careers in organisations like the United Nations, EU institutions, KPMG, IPSOS, and the world’s top universities. To join them, apply to the department by Feb. 1, 2024 to be considered for scholarships and March 15, 2024, for general admission. Don’t miss out on your best chance to study in Vienna in 2024.

Central European University

Source: KU Leuven

KU Leuven

Studying at KU Leuven has many benefits, but it is not often the first school to come to mind. It is among the best 100 universities in the world according to both Times Higher Education World Rankings and QS World University Rankings. “In a way, KU Leuven is a bit like Belgium itself,” says Herman Van Rompuy, former Belgian Prime Minister, former president of the European Council and alumnus of KU Leuven. “We are the underdog. It’s probably not the first country or university to come to mind, but once you take a closer look, you’ll notice that we have so much going for us.” 

KU Leuven has just the programme to prepare you for a career in political institutions, NGOs and research organisations in the EU and worldwide. The Master of International Politics approaches key issues in international politics from a scientific perspective. This one-year programme will give you the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to study governance in a globalising world. You will develop a well-rounded perspective by exploring regional developments in Europe, North America, China, Russia and Eurasia. With this, you can anticipate issues and find solutions for global challenges in diplomacy, peace processes and conflict resolution, international development cooperation, environmental politics and political economy. 

This master’s is promoted and supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences. In this programme, you also have the option to study abroad by attending a summer/winter school, participate in a project in the Global South or complete an additional semester abroad at a partner university immediately after you complete your programme.

KU Leuven has a Centre for Political Research, which hones in on the central institutions and processes of decision-making inherent in contemporary democracies. Its research is focused on four major domains: elections, political parties and social organisations, parliaments and governments. Students can take advantage of the centre’s findings and even be part of the research.

Central European University

Source: University of Helsinki

University of Helsinki

The University of Helsinki is one of the top 1% of research universities in the world; many of their programmes are linked to research efforts that are key to building a better, more sustainable world. Becoming a student at this university entails studying in the capital of Finland, a safe and sustainable seaside city that boasts of stunning nature and urban culture. 

The university offers several postgraduate programmes ideal for those interested in a career in politics and governance. The Master’s Programme in Global Politics and Communication exposes students to a combination of political science, communication studies and the global political economy. The programme has three study tracks: Governance, Organisations and Communication; Media and Democracy; and Global Political Economy. Whichever track they choose, students apply their ideas, concepts and methodologies to key societal and political issues and develop their critical reasoning and argumentation skills. 

There’s also the Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies programme, where students choose from six major subjects: Global Development Studies; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Social and Public Policy; Social Data Science; Social Psychology; or Sociology. Students will also study themes including Data and Society; Ethnic Relations and Migration; Mind and Society; Socio-Cultural Shifts; and Sources of Inequalities.

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