Curriculum review

May 03, 2009

Students who started the political management degree in fall 2008 or later operate under the revised curriculum. Alumni may not have had the chance to review the new curriculum, so here is a quick overview for you.

Why did we reorganize the program of study? Program reviews occur regularly in academia, and it was time for the political management to reflect on recent experience and emerging trends in politics. We did a year-long series of faculty retreats and a survey of alumni to gather thoughts on the effectiveness of our classes, and we discovered that we needed to refine our approach. Everybody agreed with what we were teaching in the core curriculum – but also wanted to see us address two topics more forcefully. Many faculty and alumni thought we should do more on the communications, so we shifted PMGT 207 “Strategy and Message Development” into a two-course sequence so we could devote more time to building communications skills. We also added a former elective, “political Leadership,” to the core to help all of our students learn their individual leadership styles.

Six-Course Core Sequence (18 credits)

The core curriculum is described in this chart. Some key features:


The core curriculum is required of all students and must be completed during the first four semesters (eight courses).


The core curriculum provides students with history and development of the field of practical politics, political leadership skills, media and communications theory, ethics, and quantitative research methods.

PMGT 201

Fundamentals of Political Mgmt

An introduction to the field of political management: recent political history; Washington and its centers of power: public policy decision making; and political strategy.

PMGT 202


Research Methods

Techniques of data analysis and the uses and abuses of statistical reasoning, with particular emphasis on applications to electoral campaigns, lobbying, and government relations. Topics include measurement, descriptive statistics, probability, and significance testing.

PMGT 203

Communications Elements

Message development: art and craft of persuasion and strategic integration of research, tactics, and public feedback. The specialized forms of communication that political professionals use to win public support for candidates and policy positions. Formerly PMGT 207.

PMGT 204

Communications Strategy

Advanced message development and implementation of a coordinated communications strategy, including integration of all forms of communications. Formerly PMGT 246.

PMGT 205



Application of ethics to political campaigning, lobbying, and representation generally; norms of conduct that should guide activities and working relations of candidates, campaign consultants, polling organizations, political reporters, lobbyists, legislators, and officials. Formerly PMGT 260.

PMGT 206


Political Leadership

Comprehensive understanding of individual leadership style. How leadership style influences conduct and how others react. Includes intensive workshop on presentation skills for leadership situations. Formerly PMGT 265.12.

The faculty retreats also made it clear that the many tracks we had developed 1995-2006 were very complicated to explain, and that the ‘track’ structure obscured the commonalities of many jobs in practical politics. Therefore, we reorganized the tracks into three focus areas, which remain voluntary for students. The focus areas demonstrate the common features of many jobs by collecting them into three broad categories. Students still retain the flexibility to design their own focus areas, but the three categories bring more courses together so students can see the connections between them.

Focus Areas (9 credits)

Three focus areas are offered: advocacy politics, which comprises lobbying, grassroots, corporate public affairs, and non-profit operations; electoral politics, which is campaign management and running for office; and advanced political skills, which supports the full range of political activities (this group includes polling, communications and the new media, fundraising, and public policy). The tables below show you all the courses in each focus area. Remember: students are not required to elect a focus area, and may develop their own sequence of courses in consultation with the program director and with director’s approval.

Advocacy Politics

PMGT 230 Issues Management

Plus any two courses:

PMGT 231 Lobbying

PMGT 232 Lobbying Budget Proc.

PMGT 233 Grassroots

PMGT 234 Int’l Lobbying

PMGT 235 Strat Mgt of Issues


PMGT 236 Corp Pub Affairs

PMGT 241 Crisis Mgt

PMGT 244 Lobbying EU I

PMGT 245 Lobbying EU II

PMGT 247 Non-profit advocacy

PMGT 248 Non-profit ldrship


Electoral Politics

PMGT 250 Campaign Strategy

PMGT 251 Campaign Org/Exec

Plus any one course:

PMGT 252 Campaign Advert.

PMGT 253 Pres Campaigns

PMGT 256 Int’l Pol Consulting

PMGT 257 State Gov’t & Politics

PMGT 258 St/Local Campaigns

PMGT 260 Running for Office

PMGT 228 Law and Pol Process

Students who want to pursue the advanced skills focus may take three courses from among the courses listed below. With the permission of the program director, students may also design a three-course sequence that pulls from courses across all three areas (for example, a student desiring to gain expertise in state politics might take the party fundraising class, lobbying, and state/local campaigning).

Advanced Political Skills

Take any three courses:

PMGT 211 Polling

PMGT 212 Qual. Research

PMGT 214 Public Op Dynamics


PMGT 216 Speechwriting

PMGT 217 Pol Mgt and Media

PMGT 218 The New Media

PMGT 220 Fundraising

PMGT 221 Fundraising for Orgs

PMGT 222 Party Fundraising


PMGT 225 Ldrship Theory

PMGT 227 Women in Politics

PMGT 228 Law and Pol Process

PMGT 229 Managing Pol Orgs

Capstone sequence options (9 credits)

The final stage of the political management degree has not changed. Students complete the final three classes (nine credits) in one of two ways: students may take any two electives, followed by PMGT 295, Advanced Problems and Strategy, the capstone course; or they may take any one elective and the two-course thesis option, PMGT 299-300.

Take one option or the other

Take any two electives, plus:


PMGT 295 Adv Probs & Strategy

Take any one elective, plus:

PMGT 299 Thesis I

PMGT 300 Thesis II

We launched the new curriculum in Fall of 2008, so we are still learning how it is going. Our intent is to make sure all graduates have the skills and knowledge needed for success in the world of politics. We will see another review in a few years, and we will again seek the advice of our alumni and our faculty when that review occurs.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts on the curriculum with us any time. If you have ideas for new courses or new faculty who could help us with new insight, please let me know!