Political Management Degree Requirements

The program is designed to help you meet specific career goals. You may choose to focus your coursework in one of three topical clusters, or work with the program director to select courses from several areas to meet individual aspirations. All courses are three credit hours unless otherwise noted. 

Required Core Courses

Our core curriculum is designed to give you a broad base of knowledge in the key principles of politics. In these five core courses you'll learn the fundamentals of political strategy and data analysis:

PMGT 6401  Fundamentals of Political Management
PMGT 6402  Applied Political Communications
PMGT 6403  Political Data and Analytics
PMGT 6404  Principled Political Leadership

And either:

PMGT 6495  Political Power & Practice or
PMGT 6480  Washington DC Residency

Course Modalities

Political Management classes are offered in three modalities: Face-to-face, online, and hybrid. Face-to-face classes meet on the GW campus in Foggy Bottom, Washington DC. Online classes are fully asynchronous. Hybrid classes meet face-to-face for a one-week immersion plus a specified asynchronous online component. Students may take courses in any modality.

Topical Clusters

The program's elective courses are centered around several key aspects of political management. You may choose to focus your coursework in one of the following areas, or create a customized educational experience by taking courses from several different clusters. The clusters are meant to serve as a guide, but are not official concentrations and will not appear on your transcript.

Applied Proficiencies Cluster

If you are interested in becoming a pollster, communications consultant, or fundraiser, the Applied Proficiencies cluster will provide the flexibility to customize and hone important skills in a specific area. And, with the permission of the program director, you can design a three-course sequence that includes courses from each area.

6450  Rules, Laws, and Strategy (3 credits; offered every other summer)

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; offered fall)

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 US and other regimes, site rollout and scaling, security and privacy.  NOTE: This is a pre-requisite for all PMGT Digital courses. 

6454  Fundraising and Budgeting (3 credits; offered fall)

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. 

6456  Speechcraft (3 credits; offered fall)

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; offered spring)

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; offered spring; prerequisite: PMGT 6403)

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. 

6462  Opposition Research (3 credits; offered summer)

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. 

6464  Influencing the Media (3 credits; offered fall)   

Organization, practices, and norms of the major media; media coverage of public officials, political campaigns, legislative battles, interest groups, and issues of public policy. Formulation of strategies for getting favorable news coverage for the issue or candidate and for ending a media crisis.  

6466  Political Advertising (3 credits; offered spring)

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; offered spring; PMGT 6452)

Strategies and techniques for developing and leveraging digital advertising for mobilization. Manage an effective online ad campaign from initial concept to creative 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. Pre-requisite: PMGT 6452. 

6470  Digital Content Creation (3 credits; offered summer; 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. Pre-requisite: PMGT 6452. 

6472  Maximizing Social Media (3 credits; offered spring; 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). Pre-requisite: PMGT 6452. 

6474  Stereotypes and Political Strategy (3 credits; offered summer)

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. 

6476  Political Consulting (3 credits; offered summer) 

Management principles, technical procedures, and legal requirements for starting and running a political consulting business. Effective practices for gaining a positive reputation, sustaining profitability across the variable political environment, and engaging on the international front. Start-up funding, mergers and acquisitions, exit strategies.      

Advocacy Politics Cluster

If you want to pursue a career in lobbying, grassroots organizing, public affairs, or non-profit operations, the Advocacy Politics cluster will teach the skills needed to immediately start shaping policy outcomes.

6410 Grassroots Engagement (3 credits; offered fall)             

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.  

6412 Issues Management (3 credits; offered summer)                

Track, influence, and alter politically significant issue-related discourses and policy developments.  Legislative, executive, and judicial venues and processes for policymaking; state referendum, initiative, and recall ballot opportunities; organizational structures, including digital procedures, for issue management. 

6414  Lobbying (3 credits; offered spring) 

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. 

6416  International Lobbying (3 credits; offered summer)

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; offered summer every other year)         

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; offered fall)

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; offered spring)

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.

Electoral Politics Cluster

If you’re interested in running for political office or planning to manage political campaigns, the Electoral Politics cluster offers a solid foundation for success at the local, state, national, or international level.

6430  Campaign Strategy (3 credits; offered spring)

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 management of campaigns. Focus on development of a campaign plan.

6432  Managing Campaigns (3 credits; offered every other spring; prerequisite: PMGT 6430)  

Understanding the role of a campaign manager in staffing and running a campaign, while executing the campaign plan. Candidate handling, fundraising, website and technology, geographic and demographic targeting, field organization, canvassing, get-out-the-vote, press operations, budget control, and liaison with the party and interest groups.

6434  Running for Office (3 credits; offered every other summer)  

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. 

6436  National Campaign Dynamics (3 credits; offered fall)

Examination of the historical and systematic patterns in national elections. Differences between presidential and midterm elections; House and Senate contests; party nomination races and general elections; primaries and caucuses; Democratic and Republican party delegate selection rules; causes for “wave” elections; effect of the economy on election outcomes; and standard vice presidential selection models. The political and partisan structural conditions that exist before any of the candidates or the campaigns get involved. 

6438  State and Local Campaigns (3 credits offered summer)          

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. 

6440  Targeting and Voter Contact (3 credits; offered spring; 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. (Prof. Green)

6442  Campaigns Around the World (3 credits, offered every other spring)

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.

Global Politics Concentration

If you plan to impact politics at a global level, the Global Politics concentration will give you the tools to decipher the political environment in various regions around the globe, as well as the tools needed to build coalitions to impact society and government. This option replaces our Advocacy in the Global Environment master's degree and is an official concentration, which will be noted on your transcript. 

The Global Politics concentration requires one Global Perspective Residency Course and at least four of the following courses:

PMGT 6416 International Lobbying

PMGT 6442 Campaigns Around the World

PMGT 6428 Cultural Aspects of Global Engagement

PMGT 6424 Comparative Political Management Environments

PMGT 6477 Political Risk Assessment

PSPR 6224 Global Public Relations and Public Affairs


Flexible Electives

With your advisor's approval you may also take electives outside the program. Many classes in the Legislative Affairs or the Strategic Public Relations programs would make excellent electives for Political Management students. Some students also take courses at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, or the School of Business to broaden their perspective on the intersections between politics, policy, international relations, and business.