What Can You Learn from The Master’s in Political Management Core Curriculum?

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The Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University (GW) online master’s in political management program consists of 36 credits. Students begin the curriculum with the four core courses that are three credits each, then choose either the optional Washington or Global Residency or the Applied Research Project as the fifth required component. The core curriculum gives students a grounding in the concepts that provide context and comprehension to cluster / specialized courses that follow.

Keyboard with a “Course” key

Here’s an in-depth description of all six core courses, along with details of what you can learn.

  1. Fundamentals of Political Management

    In Fundamentals of Political Management, students learn about the principal concepts, practices, theories and developments that derive from political management. Political management and political science are often confused for one another. While they do address similar subject matters — such as elections, campaigns, policy implementation and advocacy — political science is rooted in the theoretical. Political management briefly touches on theory, but focuses much more on practice, not just telling but showing students how to conduct and perform numerous functions, such as writing strategy memos, creating campaign messages and engaging with constituents, professional colleagues and policymakers.

  2. Applied Political Communications

    Communication enables political management professionals to convey their messages. In Applied Political Communications, students develop the models, methods and strategies to communicate with people of all types, thereby inducing action in all stages of the democratic process. In the era of instant information, individuals have never had more avenues through which to have dealings with other people, whether in person, via text message, telephone calls or online platforms. Applied Political Communications delves into some of the various communication systems professionals pursue and how they’ve evolved over time. The course also addresses how time and money often shape the means campaigns use and what elements help those methods to resonate.

  3. Political Data and Analytics

    Political Data and Analytics builds on Applied Political Communications by providing students with the tools and concepts they need to examine how their messages resonate, contextualized through the use of political research, such as polling and whether opinions about certain issues have evolved over time. The internet has revolutionized the political process, giving constituents access to lawmakers like never before. According to the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds followed candidates for office through social networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter in 2014, more than a threefold increase from 2010. Political Data and Analytics examines how the internet and social media have become increasingly relevant and influential in politics, as well as evaluates some of the more rudimentary methods of message discipline, such as direct mailers, press releases, congressional testimony and public addresses.

  4. Principled Political Leadership

    In Principled Political Leadership, students learn about what people look for in their political representatives, which may differ depending on age and cultural backgrounds, and how forming these leadership strategies can serve as a foundation for effecting change. Focusing heavily on issue advocacy, Principled Political Leadership examines the political landscape as it currently exists and what marketing methods and strategies candidates utilize to demonstrate leadership so voters take notice and join the movement.

    Diploma with computer mouse on top

In addition to these four core courses, students will have the option to attend either the Washington Residency or participate in the Applied Research Project.

  1. Washington Residency

    Fundamentals of Political Management, Applied Political Communications, Political Data and Analytics as well as Principled Political Leadership represent the four core courses that students are required to take. The fifth and final can be one of two. In the Washington Residency, online students get to experience what it’s like to be in the nation’s capital, rubbing shoulders with the policymakers, legislators, advocacy specialists and political consultants who work on the Beltway. GW is situated only a few blocks from the National Mall. Instead of going to the Foggy Bottom campus, students’ “classrooms” may be within the capitol building itself, where they can get an up-close-and-personal look at politics in practice. Students can also use the Washington Residency to build up their network of contacts, a potential in-road to campaigns or think tanks upon obtaining their political management master’s degrees.

  2. Applied Research Project

    For those who would prefer a more structured conclusion to their core coursework, the Applied Research Project makes this possible. In Applied Research Project, students get to put what they learned into practice by executing campaign strategies with a person who serves as their client. In these mock situations, the political client seeks to advance a policy to effect change.

Students are tasked with forming a strategy that leads to results, whether through grassroots advocacy or outreach to the people in political circles who possess influence.

The core curriculum of the online master’s in political management at GW provides the intellectual grounding students need to turn political management into meaningful careers. For more information on these and some of the professional paths graduates have traveled, please visit the website, where you can download GW’s free brochure.

 Recommended reading:

What is a master’s degree in political management?

Campaign finance law essentials


Pew Research Center

The Graduate School of Political Management