Political management online or on-campus?

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You’ve worked in politics or a related field for a few years, and you’re ready to continue your education to begin the next step of your career. Whether you hope to advance your expertise or progress into a role as an elected official, campaign manager, aide, chief of staff or other roles, earning a graduate degree, such as a Master’s in Political Management, is the path forward.

Given that, should you consider studying on campus or online? Both options can provide the education you need to progress in your career and obtain the skills to pursue advancement opportunities and improved salary potential.

An online student studies on her laptop.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2015, the latest year for which data is available, 68.8 percent of nearly 3 million post-baccalaureate students had some distance education component in their program. With that figure including hybrid experiences and fully online programs, it’s clear graduate students have found some comparable value between on-campus and online offerings.

This article will discuss aspects of the graduate degree experience as it pertains to online and on-campus experiences to help you decide which option is best for you.


When applying for graduate programs, you’ll consider the quality of the faculty along with the institution. The experts you can study under can be an important factor and can even be the reason you want to earn your master’s degree from a specific program.

On-campus and online programs can both allow you to learn from practitioners with subject matter expertise in your field. Depending on the institution, the only difference may be how the faculty conduct their course delivery.

Certain online programs leverage a greater number of experts who spend more time working in the political management field than teaching. This approach can mean you’re receiving firsthand knowledge from professionals who are in touch with the latest trends in the industry.

On-campus programs’ fixed schedules may better appeal to political management experts who spend more time in academia and prefer to work in alignment with the academic calendar.


On-campus programs typically have regular scheduling commitments, such as having classes occur during the same days at a fixed time. This arrangement can still work well even if you intend to continue working while you earn your degree. If your job has more day-to-day regularity regarding when your work day starts and ends, you may find an on-campus master’s program that offers courses that fit your existing work-life balance.

Peer and faculty interaction

On-campus programs let you meet with peers and instructors face-to-face and with more regularity. Also, you have the experience completing some work on campus, which some students may find necessary for focusing on their studies.

Online programs also give you the opportunity to connect with classmates from across the nation and perhaps the world to form study groups and take advantage of faculty office hours. The medium just changes. Online forums and video conferencing can allow you to interact with peers to talk through assignments and topics. Also, these platforms let you talk with instructors if you struggle with a concept or want to discuss career questions.

If you’re comfortable collaborating remotely, the online modality can fit your needs. If face-to-face communication better suits your educational strengths, on-campus programs may work for you.

Program prestige

As evidenced by the quality consistency of faculty between online and on-campus programs, offerings of both kinds can provide assurance that the degree and education you receive can help you further your career.

Accrediting bodies assess the quality of both modalities. These third-party organizations rate factors like transparency, student environment, whether programs meet certain educational standards and technology resources available. Certain organizations also act as accrediting bodies for specific degrees. Their assessments look at the aforementioned factors and ones that relate to specific industries. Look for accreditation no matter what method you prefer.

Additionally, know that your degree will be the same if you choose the online program. Your diploma won’t come with an asterisk noting that you were an online student, and the faculty will hold you to the same rigorous standards as on-campus students.

Study online at the George Washington University

While on-campus and online programs have nuances in regard to the faculty’s main work life, course schedules, and peer and faculty interaction, both modalities can offer the same quality of education to help you progress in political management. Choose the type that fits your learning style.

If you want to earn your degree remotely, the online Master’s in Political Management program at the George Washington University offers an asynchronous curriculum with core courses covering political data and analytics, applied political communications and more, as well as three clusters of specialized courses. Global and D.C. residency options also give you the opportunity to meet with peers and instructors in person while networking with professionals in the field, including lobbyists, politicians and advocates.

Students in an on-campus lecture.

You can gain this experience under the guidance of recognized political practitioners, including chairs of political action committees, government affairs representatives and political historians. Plus, GW is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, giving you assurance in your education regardless of the modality.

Contact an enrollment advisor today to learn more.

Recommended Readings:

Q&A with a GW Political Management Graduate

Online Master’s in Political Management Curriculum


The George Washington University – Online Master’s in Political Management

The George Washington University – Online Master’s in Political Management Faculty

Fast Facts: Distance Learning by the National Center for Education Statistics

How to Compare Online, On-Campus Graduate Programs by U.S. News & World Report

When to Switch From an On-Campus to Online Degree by U.S. News & World Report