Individuals interested in running political campaigns can study the subject in an online graduate certificate program or through some of the few online master's degree programs. Students can complete all coursework online, although internships may be required and must be completed in person.
Both the certificate and degree programs require a bachelor's degree for admission. Credits earned in a certificate program can often be applied to a master's degree. Both programs take about a year to complete.
Courses cover topics such as campaign financing, communications, leadership and strategies. Master's programs may allow students to choose a concentration such as electoral or advocacy politics. A master's thesis is often required. Certificate programs may cover only specific aspects of political management, such as political action committees (PACs) or online politics.
Graduate Certificate in Political Management
There is only one true certificate program in political management available in the United States. Through this program, students learn marketing techniques and strategies to raise funds for a political campaign, how to support various politicians financially and ways to consult politicians on strategies for running in an election. This certificate program is intensive to politics, with some practical business applications. In order to complete this program, students must have at least a bachelor's degree.
Program Information and Requirements
The online graduate certificate in political management takes about a year to complete. All classes are available online, and can be accessed through the school's web-based server. They choose the courses, interact with fellow classmates, complete assignments and follow lectures online. They complete the courses on their own time, without worrying about scheduled class times. Students may be required to complete an internship, which will not be completed virtually.
Students completing the online certificate program must have a computer and reliable internet access. They may need computer software programs, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader and a media program.
Students have no general education requirements for this program, though they do complete core government courses. These online courses can also go towards the completion of a master's degree program in government or a related subject.
Campaign Strategy Management
This course familiarizes students with the way campaigns are organized and trains them to implement an effective strategy. They study ways to create a political message, develop a budget and keep the campaign moving. Students examine potential problems and identify ways to solve them.
Behavior and Political Organizations
This course identifies major political organizations and teaches students how the political system works in the United States. They also examine target areas where politicians should garner support.
Campaign and Fundraising Strategies
Students gain experience analyzing financial ability to run a campaign and ways to stretch the dollars so they go further while still making the campaign effective. Students study ways to raise support, manage finances, create and stick to a financial plan.
Governmental Research Methods
Students analyze design strategies used in government research, including the way statistics from poll information is gathered. They study reports and learn to analyze them.
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Master of Professional Studies in Political Management
The master's degree program in political management trains students to become a part of the political process at the federal, state and local levels of government. They study things that can help or hinder a political campaign, such as budget, media coverage and marketing strategies. Students who pursue this degree program must have at least a bachelor's degree and individuals who have earned a certificate in government or a related field could apply some of the credits to the master's program. The online program is not common, but the political management program and variations of it are available at some colleges and universities.
Program Information and Requirements
Typically, the online master's degree program takes a year to complete, but if students have previously earned a certificate, it could take less. They can also take fewer courses per semester, extending the length of the program. Students take courses entirely online, but an internship is required that must be completed in person. This online program requires that students take courses at regular times so they can interact with their classmates and professors, watch video lectures and turn coursework and assignments in by specified deadlines. Students use web servers, such as Blackboard, to fully experience the virtual classroom.
In order to gain the full experience, students must be able to use webcams, podcasts, email, media software and Microsoft Office. They must also have a computer and reliable internet so they can sign onto the courses at the specified time.
The master's degree program doesn't have any general education requirements, although students do need to complete core courses in government and management.
Media and Political Management
Students study major media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television, that cover political campaigns and candidates. They learn how to receive coverage and ways to avoid any crises.
Leadership in Politics
This course introduces students to leadership skills needed in the political arena. They spend time practicing those skills and evaluating their leadership abilities.
Organizing and Executing Campaigns
How does one organize a political campaign? This course familiarizes students with necessary campaign staff, fundraising, canvassing techniques and ways to develop relationships with the political party or other interest groups.
Running for Office
Students study the practicalities of running for a political office, including campaign basics and decisions people make as they run. They also learn how political victory or effect can affect a politician and his or her family.
With a certificate in political management, students can find careers that include campaign managers, government consultants and political director. These careers typically require at least a bachelor's degree. According to the May 2015 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), the median annual salary for public relations and fundraising managers was $104,140. Individuals in management analysis in the state government sector made an average salary of $60,780.
A master's degree in political management could lead to a career as a politician at the state, local or federal levels of government. According to May 2015 BLS data, at the local level, individuals can become city or county council members, commissioners, positions that make very little. Legislators had a median annual salary of $20,500 (www.bls.gov), whereas in 2016 lobbyists had a median salary of $64,500 (www.payscale.com). The 2016 Congressional Research Services report lists compensation for members of congress as $174,000, with the exceptions of the House and Senate leadership (www.crs.gov).
There are not a wide range of online political management degree programs available, but those that do exist give students a thorough introduction to the world of political communications and media. Those who earn a master's degree in the field may choose to pursue careers as politicians themselves.