Course Listings

The Graduate School of Political Management offers a variety of courses covering politics, communications, and advocacy. Students should consult the GW Registrar to determine what courses are available in a given term.

Schedule of Classes

 Spring 2024 | Summer 2024 | Fall 2024

Academic Calendars

2023-2024 Academic Calendar for all GSPM programs


Course Carousels

Students are advised to complete core courses first, followed by electives.

Political Management:


Strategic Public Relations:


Legislative Affairs:


Course Descriptions and Syllabi Links

IMPORTANT NOTE: Syllabi that are listed here from past terms are intended as samples for general guidance and should not be used when ordering textbooks or planning your schedule. If a syllabus on this list differs from the one being distributed by your instructor via Blackboard or email, please defer to your instructor's version.

If you have questions or do not see your syllabus listed below, please email us at [email protected].

Political Management

6401 Fundamentals of Political Management (3 credits)

Main concepts, arenas, developments, roles, and practices in the field of political management. Assess rhetorical situations, write strategy memos, create and critique campaign messages, and engage citizens, professional colleagues and decision-makers. Taken in first semester of program.


Hybrid Syllabus

Spring I Online Sylllabus

6402 Applied Political Communications (3 credits)

Models and methods by which professionals plan, produce, and adjust strategic communication messages in democratic politics. Use a variety of communication forms and media, such as, fact sheets, blog posts, video releases, and public addresses, under typical constraints of time, money, information, reputation, talent, audience attentiveness, and institutional procedure. Students to enroll by their sixth course in the program.

Spring I Syllabus 

Spring I Online Syllabus

6403 Political Data and Analytics (3 credits)

Introduction to the uses of quantitative data and statistics in politics. Learn to evaluate research designs, statistical associations, causal reasoning, methods for hypothesis testing, multivariate regression analyses, and data analytics. Consume and critique data and statistics for strategic purposes. Students must enroll by their sixth course in the program. 

Spring I Syllabus

Spring II Online Syllabus

6404 Principled Political Leadership (3 credits)

Formulation of political communications strategies as a foundation from which to design and develop political advocacy communications. Strategic elements necessary to create, introduce and maintain an effective political profile in issue advocacy campaigns, candidate elections, and legislative advocacy campaigns. Application of important principles in research, advertising and marketing to the political landscape. 

Spring II Syllabus 

Spring II Online Syllabus

6495 Political Power and Practice (3 credits)

Capstone seminar that develops and integrates knowledge of political strategies, tactics, and situational considerations, and applies that knowledge to advanced political problems. Topics include: gaining and wielding power, the complexity associated with making democracy work, conflict resolution, negotiation and bargaining skills, grappling with the consequences of winning and losing. Students to enroll during their last or penultimate term. 

Online Syllabus


6410 Grassroots Engagement (3 credits)

Strategies and techniques to build advocacy support among and across general civic populations. Identification of potential supporters through database targeting and individual outreach. Motivation and training of interested supporters for grassroots action in campaigns, at public forums, and before decision-makers. Coalition and protest options; analytics of ongoing efforts. 

Online Syllabus

6412 Issues Management (3 credits)

This course explores issues management as a platform for change and leadership in an organization. It examines theories, principles, methods, and concepts that move issues from a threat to an organization's reputation and on‐going operations to a platform for improved reputation and leadership. It focuses on the collective engagement of relevant stakeholders in an enterprise: employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, management, activists, NGOs, IGOs, legislators, regulators, and society at large. You will also gain an understanding of how issues intersect in the government, corporate, and civic worlds. 


6414 Lobbying (3 credits)

Survey of and training for lobbying in the U.S. federal system. Students design a detailed lobbying plan for implementation and practice a variety of influence techniques, including those associated with digital media and communications technologies. Legal compliance, organizational and public accountability, professional standards and practices. 

Spring I Syllabus

6416 International Lobbying (3 credits)

Survey of international lobbying practices, analysis of strategic models and best practices in a variety of different countries and political systems (e.g., EU, China, Brazil, and Turkey). Trends and innovations in lobbying techniques and communications technologies. Investigation and application of appropriate research to improve practice. 


6418 Budget Politics (3 credits)

Politics of the budget process, including formal and informal mechanisms of appropriating U.S. federal funds. Lobbying strategies and tactics employed by private and public organizations seeking to influence budgetary agenda-setting in the White House; decision-making in Congress; and funding negotiations within and between executive agencies.

6420 Corporate Public Affairs (3 credits)

Exploration of major functional areas in corporate public affairs, with a focus on the political and policy dynamics operating in the United States and other democracies abroad. Development and deployment of appropriate strategy, research, and tactics for corporations managing the complexities related to a global economy and shifting political alliances.

6422 State and Intergovernmental Politics (3 credits)

Examination of the electoral pressures on state and local legislators. Methods and techniques for advocacy in various state capitals. The governing responsibilities of constitutionally-delegated to states and the ever-changing historical relationship between states and the federal government.

6424 Comparative Politics (3 credits)

Examination of the political management environments and workings of political institutions in a variety of countries, highlighting comparative advantages and disadvantages via readings, written assignments, oral presentations, and participation in debates and negotiations.

6428 Cultural Aspects of Global Engagement (3 credits)

From a base of cultural understanding, students will study effective engagement strategies and techniques. The course focuses on learning the cultural nuances of working in multicultural environments. 

Spring II Syllabus


6430 Campaign Strategy (3 credits)

Orientation to the basic systems and technologies that must be created and managed to produce electoral victory. The campaign plan and campaign budget as the foundation for the management of campaigns. Focus on the development of a campaign plan. 


6434 Running for Office (3 credits)

Electoral politics from the perspective of the candidate, strategic and personal factors involved in the decision to run and the consequences of victory or defeat. 


6438 State and Local Campaigns (3 credits)

Application of campaign strategy and management principles to electoral races at the state and local levels. Staffing, budgeting, and strategic challenges for what are typically lower-visibility contests that involve state and local candidates. Coordinated campaigns and the impact of the national party's reputation on these down-ballot races. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

6439 Campaign Strategy (3 credits)

The overall learning objective of this class will be to prepare students for the various elements of a political campaign and how to organize the work of a campaign in order to place you or your candidate in a position to win. 


6440 Targeting and Voter Contact (3 credits; prerequisite: PMGT 6403)

How to find voters for electoral and advocacy campaigns and tailor communications to them. Database analytics, list management, questionnaire design, target weighting, predictive modeling. Review of randomized and natural experiments in light of theoretic principles and findings from public opinion research. Skill development in use of spreadsheets and basic statistical packages.

Online Syllabus

6442 Campaigns Around the World (3 credits)

Comparative examination of national-level campaigns in democratic countries outside of the United States. Strategies, techniques, and practices used in multi-party and/or parliamentary systems. Professional conduct, consulting rules and norms. 

Spring I Syllabus


6428 Cultural Aspects of Global Engagement (3 credits)

Understanding multicultural communities and diverse institutions, customs, and practices; effective and ethical public engagement on behalf of global organizations; communicating issues and commitments to diverse audiences and the general market; engagement strategies and techniques. 

6450 Rules, Laws, and Strategy (3 credits)

U.S. federal and state laws and regulations governing recognition of political parties and political organizations, campaign finance, political broadcasting and cablecasting, lobbying registration. Ballot access and voter registration. Ethical and strategic considerations (opportunities and constraints; benefits and drawbacks) related to rule construction. 


6452 Digital Strategy (3 credits)

An introduction to digital strategy as part of a modern communications effort, with an emphasis on political, public affairs, and advocacy communications. This course will cover the origins of social media and the rise of digital platforms. Students will learn how to create digital content, target audiences, place and program advertising, and measure results.

Spring II Syllabus 

Spring II Online Syllabus

6454 Fundraising and Budgeting (3 credits)

Raising and spending money in political campaigns, referenda contests, issue advocacy, and lobbying efforts. Budgeting process, standard controls to check expenditures, accounting procedures, and general strategies for use in effective fundraising. 

Spring II Syllabus

6456 Speechcraft (3 credits)

Analysis and techniques used in speechwriting and presentations for public officials and candidates. Managing the political optics and understanding a speech's visual context and non-verbal communication capabilities (Rose Garden, Oval Office, campaign stump speech, ceremonial occasion, congressional testimony). Modulating speaker style, tone, and pacing, and staging the speech for effect.

6458 Crisis Management (3 credits)

Management of crisis situations and defining moments in electoral, legislative, and public policy campaigns. Exploration of the causes and consequences of political scandals. Professional responsibilities and ethical considerations of crisis management and rapid response decisions. 


6460 Audience Research (3 credits)

Processes by which citizens acquire political information and make decisions in politics. Survey research uses in electoral campaigns and issue advocacy. Designing and drawing samples, constructing and pretesting questionnaires, modes of interviewing, financial implications, practical problems in selecting and monitoring polling organizations, and interpretation of data. Focus groups and small-sample interviews; relationship between qualitative and quantitative research; reliability and validity. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

6462 Opposition Research (3 credits)

Practices and techniques associated with investigative opposition research. Public document and website searches, candidate tracking, and methods for information dissemination. Changes in practice as a result of technological innovations and a changing media environment. Professional responsibilities and ethics expected from opposition researchers. 


6466 Political Advertising (3 credits)

Strategies and techniques for using the various media (print, radio, television, cable, Internet) in political and advocacy campaigns, with emphasis on the use of television. Impact and uses of paid advertising; development of campaign messages; production, timing, and placement of television advertising; explanation of media markets. Students design print ads and brochures and produce a 30-second television spot. 


6468 Digital Advertising and Action (3 credits; prerequisite: PMGT 6452)

Strategies and techniques for developing and leveraging digital advertising for mobilization. Manage an effective online ad campaign from initial concept to creation and from targeting to measuring the results. Prepare, design and launch a variety of online ad types including search, social, display and video. Analyze success or failure based on analytics and benchmarking. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

6470 Digital Content Creation (3 credits; prerequisite: PMGT 6452)

Developing and creating effective digital content that promotes campaign narratives and furthers strategic messages. Construct portfolios of original and aggregated digital media content. Skill development in infographics, video, GPS, photo collage, page and site architecture, and texts from 140 characters to blog posts and file attachments. Versioning for different communities, functionalities, and channels including mobile applications.

Spring II Syllabus

6472 Maximizing Social Media (3 credits; prerequisite: PMGT 6452)

Creating and integrating owned digital platforms and social media assets for political persuasion and action. Cultivation of online political communities, moderating and curating outside-generated content, integration and alignment with campaign message; event, reputation and crisis management. Review of constraints and potentials intrinsic to specific social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter). 

Spring I Syllabus

6474 Stereotypes and Political Strategy (3 credits)

Accounting for psychological constructs, social stereotypes, media framing, and the impression formation process in developing a political strategy. Review of empirical research; investigation of effective techniques or postures for overcoming biases; self-assessment of perceptual assumptions. 


6477 Political Risk Assessment (3 credits)

Organizations, whether public or private, must continually anticipate, understand, and mitigate risks to their reputations and operations. Political risk - created by governmental, financial, and social volatility - is among the greatest challenges that organizations face. As a result, political risk assessment is an essential capability for political managers and the organizations they serve. It is particularly important in today’s hyper-connected world, where dynamics anywhere across the globe can impact any organization. This course will teach students the tools of risk assessment, enabling them to better forecast, analyze, and react to political volatility.


Additional Special Course Offerings

6480 Washington Residency (3 credits; an online only course)

Capstone experience equivalent (6495: Political Power and Practice) for online Political Management students. Exposure and interaction with political consultants, advocacy specialists, elected officials, and applied researchers in Washington, DC. Integration of program curriculum towards an understanding of the federal political ecosystem and developing a robust political network. Taken in last or penultimate term in program. There is a program fee for this course. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

6490 Special Topics (3 credits)

Interpreting and Strategizing with Polls
Using Humor Strategically Syllabus
Strategic Government Consulting Syllabus
Women, Democracy, and Global Politics Syllabus
Ensuring Data Security

6495 Capstone: Political Power and Practice (3 credits) 

Taken during the student's last or penultimate term. Develops and integrates knowledge of political strategies, tactics, and situational considerations, and applies that knowledge to advanced political problems through a research report. Additional topics include: gaining and wielding power, the complexity associated with making democracy work, positioning and posturing with regard to the rules, conflict resolution, negotiation and bargaining skills, grappling with the consequences of winning and losing. 

Spring I Syllabus

6496 Independent Study (3 credits)

6497 Graduate Internship in Political Management (0 credits)

Legislative Affairs

6201 Politics and Public Policy

Examination of political processes that influence policy formulation, policy implementation, and the uses of policy analysis. 

Spring Syllabus

6202 Legislative Politics

Theory, structure, and process of the U.S. Congress, with emphasis on member-constituency relations, individual and collective decision making, party and committee activities, executive-legislative relations, and interest-group activities.

6203 Executive-Legislative Relations

Political and institutional relationships between executive and legislative branches of the federal government. 


6204/6205 Research Methods

Alternative approaches to political analysis, construction of research designs, and problems of measurement. 

Spring Syllabus

6212 Congressional Committees

An examination of Congressional committees, including their history, processes, and protocols. 

Spring Syllabus

6217 Budgetary Politics

Examines major economics, budget, and tax issues in American politics. 

6219 The American Presidency

Personalized and institutionalized aspects of the presidency, with emphasis on the politics of contemporary policymaking.

6220 Congress and the Courts

Institutional and political relationship between the U.S. Congress and the federal courts. 


6222 American Political Parties and Elections

Nature and function of American political parties; organizational status, nominating and electoral politics, and role in governing. 

6223 Public Opinion and Political Socialization

Sources and dynamics of public opinion and political socialization.

6224 Interest Group Politics

Theory, structure, and activities of interest groups in American politics. 


6228 Media and Politics

Role of the media in American politics, with emphasis on television news coverage, political debates, political advertising, and their impact on the electorate. 

6233 Comparative Legislatures

Selected problems of legislative theory and behavior from a comparitive perspective, with particular reference to the parliamentary systems of Germany, France, and Britain.

6234 PACs and Congress

Selected problems of PAC management and their interaction with Members of Congress. Special emphasis on the laws governing PAC participation in political and policy debates. 

Spring Syllabus

6235 Ethics in Congress

The purpose of this course is to bring ethics to the surface. We want to think critically about its role in
Congress both as a collection of individuals, an institution, and the contextual environment within which both operate. 


6240 Special Topics in Legislative Affairs

In-depth coverage of significant theoretical and empirical issues in American politics, including such topics as political behavior, electoral politics, and race and politics:

Politics and Race Syllabus
Congressional and Political Reforms Syllabus
Congressional Oversight

6241 Legislative Writing and Research

Two skills are most valuable for professionals whose careers are focused on legislative affairs: the ability to find and use government and non-government documents and resources, and the ability to communicate to a sophisticated, policy-driven audience. This course is designed to help students in Legislative Affairs accomplish both of those goals.

6242 Legislative Drafting

Introduction for non-lawyers to the process of legislative drafting in the U.S. Congress.

6243 Advanced Legislative Procedure 

Detailed study of the rules, procedures, traditions, and constitutional underpinnings that govern the work of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. 

6244 Running and Representing in the U.S. Congress 

This course is about what it means to be a representative in Congress. Most political analysts and commentators, indeed most academics, start with the member after they are elected. The course begins with a much earlier stage where nascent ambition transitions to the decision to seek office and  dissects the many varied roles that the job requires and how that ambition transforms. 

Spring Syllabus

6246 Congress and U.S. Foreign Policy

The role of Congress in setting foreign policy.

6247 Managing a Congressional Office

Through focused engagement of academic and practical readings, congressional guidance documents,
and practical exercises, this advanced graduate course provides a detailed understanding of the
operations of a Member of Congress’s personal office.

6248 Religion and Politics

The influence of religion on politics in the United States.

6249 Congress and National Security Policy

The role of Congress in setting defense policy.

6251 Budgetary Policy

Analysis of U.S. monetary and fiscal policy.

6260 Special Topics in Domestic Policy

Analysis of U.S. policy on selected domestic problems.

6261 Congress and Defense Policy 

The role of Congress in U.S. defense policy.

6262 Congress and Intelligence Policy 

The role of Congress in U.S. intelligence policy.

6263 Congress and Cybersecurity Policy 

The role of Congress in U.S. cybersecurity policy.

6264 U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy 

This course provides an overview of energy and environmental policymaking in the United States and of energy resources worldwide and in the United States. It focuses on the use of fossil fuels, non‐fossil sources of energy, and renewable energy sources. 

Spring Syllabus

6266 Congress and Trade Policy 

The role of Congress in setting U.S. trade policy. 

Summer Syllabus

6267 Congress and Healthcare Policy 

The role of Congress in U.S. healthcare policy.

6270 Special Topics in Foreign Policy

Analysis of U.S. policy on selected issues, challenges, or world regions.
Domestic Energy Policy
Congress and Homeland Security Policy

6290 Independent Study

Directed readings in a topic related to Congress and public policymaking. Limited to Legislative Affairs degree candidates. Written permission of program director required.

6299 Thesis Research I

6300 Thesis Research II

Strategic Public Relations

PSPR 6201 – Strategic Public Relations Principles & Practices 
This course examines public relations history, theory, trends, tools and tactics, and provides an in-depth analysis of major theory and practices. Students analyze real-world case studies as context for an applied understanding of how and why to plan, execute and evaluate these programs, and they prepare a detailed professional communications plan that addresses an important management issue affecting a public relations or public affairs challenge.

Spring I Online Syllabus

PSPR 6202 - Advanced Writing for Communications Professionals 
This course examines the essentials of effective public relations and public affairs writing, emphasizing strategic thinking and compositional precision as the source of their efficacy and power. Students learn to write time-tested professional communications for the media and other target audiences such as legislators or voters, creating and editing their classmates’ as well as their own backgrounders, press releases, media alerts, issue primers, stump speeches, pitch letters, plans, and proposals.

Spring I Online Syllabus

PSPR 6203 – Research Methods 
This course examines proven pre- and post-program methods for measuring and evaluating effective public relations and public affairs campaigns and initiatives. Students learn basic and advanced tools and techniques, including statistical analysis, and analyze the panoply of research concepts and technology, including the use of online and social media surveys, that affect consumer and/or political action. 

Spring I Syllabus

Spring II Online Syllabus

PSPR 6204 – Media Relations in a Digital World 
This course deconstructs the art and theory of media relations from the public relations and public affairs perspective. Students analyze the state of contemporary media – online and off – and its impact on commerce, politics, and the human contract, examining key factors influencing reportorial and editorial coverage of business, government, and not-for-profit interests. 

Spring I Syllabus

Spring II Online Syllabus

PSPR 6205 – Fundamentals of Business and Finance for PR/PA Professionals 
This course will explore the fundamentals of business that can be applied to small, mid-size, and large organizations, public relations agencies, and start-up consultancies. Students will learn how to effectively integrate communications/PR skills with a financial “lens” to real-world business situations. 


Spring II Syllabus

PSPR 6206 – Ethical Standards in Public Relations & Public Affairs 
This course explores the growing role and importance of ethics in public relations and public affairs. Students analyze personal and professional ethical assumptions and norms in American society and consider standards, guidelines, and codes of conduct that should guide relations with clients, the media, public officials, legislators, voters, employees, and others. 


Spring II Syllabus

PSPR 6207 – Sustainability Communications

This course will examine the global corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement, explore the unique communications challenges it presents and offer practical suggestions and tactics to respond to this trend. The class will feature in-class activities, current research and guest speakers from NGOs, communications firms, and major corporations with practical advice on meeting this challenge in the global marketplace.

Online Syllabus

Spring I Syllabus

PSPR 6208 – Integrated Marketing Communications 
This course examines the evolution of integrated marketing communications (IMC) as a new paradigm for extending the reach and influence of public relations and public affairs through the use of both traditional and non-traditional communications approaches and technologies. Students learn about the theoretical and tactical advantages and disadvantages of integrated strategies in for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, and they design an integrated marketing communications program, making use of both traditional and new media tools and techniques. 


Spring II Online Syllabus

PSPR 6222 - Multicultural Marketing and Engagement 

As multicultural communities increase in size and reach and as diverse institutions gain national prominence, the need for engagement is clear. Today, the general market is necessarily multicultural. The course prepares students for effective and ethical public engagement on behalf of contemporary organizations communicating issues and commitments to diverse audiences and multicultural messages to the general market. From a base of cultural understanding, students will study effective engagement strategies and techniques. 


PSPR 6223 - Public Opinion, Political Socialization, and Public Relations 

Through analytical research, first-hand accounts, and theoretical constructs, this course explores key questions related to the formation of public opinion and political socialization. More specifically, this course looks at the process by which people view their engagement in public debates and politics and how they acquire and maintain their attitudes, biases, beliefs - in short, their opinions and the decisions they make as a result. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

PSPR 6224 - Global Public Relations and Public Affairs - Strategy and Practice 

This course builds on students’ prior academic and/or on-the-job experience to develop a global understanding and practical tools for using public relations and public affairs to promote and defend companies, government entities, non-profit organizations, and individual candidates on the world stage. The course surveys how global public relations and public affairs strategies are developed and implemented, emphasizing successful case studies and failures. 

Online Syllabus

PSPR 6225 - Managing Trade Association and Nonprofit Communications in a Changing Environment 

This course is designed to help communicators currently working - or hoping to work - in trade associations and nonprofit (ANP) organizations become more effective in the planning and execution of their programs. By its very nature, this course will be practical and reality-based, with guest speakers drawn from many organizations and communications backgrounds. 


PSPR 6226 - Digital Communications Platforms and Strategies 

The course will examine the theories and approach to digital communications and review the major digital platforms utilized by companies, government agencies, non-profits and associations to accomplish their strategic communications goals and objectives. The class will provide active hands-on opportunities for students to become familiar with the major platforms and the tactics and techniques top organizations deploy to further their objectives. 

Spring I Online Syllabus

PSPR 6230 - Crisis and Issues Management 

The practice of Issues Management involves the intersection of a number of communications and policy disciplines, including environmental scanning, public policy analysis, public policy advocacy, strategic communications, media relations, grassroots mobilization, coalition management, and corporate reputation management. This course will explore all of the approaches in detail and examine ways in which they work together to further the broad strategic goals of organizations. 


Spring II Online Syllabus

CPS 6300 – Public Relations & Public Affairs Capstone Research Project 
Students apply the knowledge and lessons gained in their courses in a major independent research project on a topic of immediate interest to their current employer or another organization that has a bearing on their professional aspirations. They design the project with the approval of faculty and in cooperation with the staff and management of the organization in question, conducting primary and secondary research, and preparing a publishable quality research paper, incisively elucidating their views and opinions with the goal of building greater understanding about and insight into the project topic. 

Spring I Syllabus

PMGT 6420 Corporate Public Affairs

Exploration of major functional areas in corporate public affairs, with a focus on the political and policy dynamics operating in the United States and other democracies abroad. Development and deployment of appropriate strategy, research, and tactics for corporations managing the complexities related to a global economy and shifting political alliances.

PMGT 6452 Digital Strategy

Development of an integrated digital strategy for use in advocacy and electoral campaigns. Introduction to the theoretical concepts, distinctive technologies, applied skills, and managerial challenges associated with digital campaigning. Search engine optimization, GPS, online payment systems, customizing back- and front-end systems to meet strategic goals and budget parameters, working with IT vendors and distance volunteers, legal and cultural considerations in the U.S. and other regimes, site rollout and scaling, security and privacy. NOTE: This is a pre-requisite for all PMGT Digital courses.

PMGT 6456 Speechcraft

Analysis and techniques used in speechwriting and presentations for public officials and candidates. Managing the political optics and understanding a speech's visual context and non-verbal communication capabilities (Rose Garden, Oval Office, campaign stump speech, ceremonial occasion, congressional testimony). Modulating speaker style, tone, and pacing, and staging the speech for effect.