May 1, 2016
Interest in the political climate of the U.S. continues to build, even among those who don't usually follow politics closely. If the most wonderful time of the year for you is one filled with debates, speeches and legislation, a political science degree and career might be the right step in pursuing your passion and achieving your dreams.
To get started on this path, consider earning a political science degree online from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
SNHU's online political science program receives special inspiration from the political activity of the region. New Hampshire may be a small state, but during the presidential election season, it's front and center. Though the presidential nominating process takes months, the New Hampshire primary, where voters go to the polls for the first time, is a key early test for presidential hopefuls.
"[New Hampshire is] a proving ground for campaigns" said Dean Spiliotes, Ph.D., a civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at SNHU and founder of the political blog, NHPoliticalCapital.com. "We've retained that ability to vet these candidates on behalf of others."
Spiliotes, who has years of experience working as a political scientist and political analyst, reported that over the years New Hampshire has maintained a strong history of self-government. It's a state that is small enough for the democratic process to be highly participatory. Choosing presidential candidates is a 100 year-old tradition that the state takes pride in. Nearly 50 percent of eligible voters participated in the 2012 election, a rate that was significantly higher than the national rate of 36.3 percent, The New York Times reported.
When you earn a political science degree online from SNHU, you're taking the first step toward a successful career in politics. In either the bachelor's or master's programs, New Hampshire's coveted position as the first primary in the nation during each presidential season will give you a unique perspective on the interplay between presidential candidates, sophisticated modern campaigns, and actual voters. But this unique advantage isn't the only benefit that comes from earning an online political science degree from SNHU. A major strength of the program is that it's specifically tailored to prepare students for a career outside of academia.
"One of the goals with the online program here is to find ways to take your program and apply it," Spiliotes said. "We're giving people an opportunity to take a body of literature and way of thinking and making it useful in their degrees."
Spiliotes reported that academia in general is increasingly seeing schools make attempts to connect curriculum to job opportunities, but he believes that SNHU is "out front" in terms of progress in this area. When you complete the political science program, you'll not only have a diploma, but you'll be ready to actively participate in the field that you've been studying.
The fact that several professors live in New Hampshire is also beneficial. Sarah Chaisson-Warner, an online instructor in the political science program who lives in the state, said that the location gives professors an up-close view of interactions between candidates and voters.
"The opportunity to not only see, but participate in this political microcosm [in New Hampshire], enhances the knowledge and provides professors with the ability to better discuss some of the core parts of our political system with students. In my course, Introduction to American Politics POL-210, we have modules focused on political players, the role of the media, campaign financing and interest groups, and more," Chaisson-Warner said.
Being involved in politics doesn't mean that you have to run for office yourself. For example, you can specialize in campaign leadership if you're more interested in working behind the scenes developing platforms and managing logistics. A political science degree from SNHU additionally gives students the ability to pursue a career in advocacy, government, public policy and statistical analysis and many other political roles.
Whether you have a political science undergraduate degree or not, consider an online master's in political science as the next step in your career path. The convenience, flexibility and affordability of the program makes it the ideal fit for those who want to advance their career in politics while working part- or full-time.
There's likely no better time to get involved with the political science community at SNHU than during the presidential election season.
"Doing the program during primaries gives everything immediacy and relevance that you don't get all the time," Spiliotes said. "What we're doing is figuring out ways for the SNHU community to leverage and bring people along on this exciting journey every four years."
If the upcoming presidential election has inspired you to play a role in the political process, consider pursuing a career in political science today by starting an online political science degree with SNHU.
Peter Leahy is chief engineer aboard the container ship APL China. When he's not there, Peter is pursuing his online MS in Data Analytics - and his lifelong passion for conservation.
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