BA to MS in Political Science

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Have a Passion for Politics? Earn an Accelerated BA to MS Political Science Degree

The political legacy of New Hampshire politics goes beyond the first-in-the-nation primary. It’s about the annual town hall meetings, the governor’s income tax pledge, and an independent-minded population that stands up and demands to be counted.

Southern New Hampshire University’s online BA-MS in Political Science builds on New Hampshire’s heritage of local, national and global politics to offer a contemporary, critical look at public policy. By combining the bachelor of arts with the Master’s in political science, you can complete both degrees, saving time and money in the process.

Created for focused students who want to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the accelerated program combines the comprehensive scope of the BA in Applied Political Science (history, strategies, public perception and contemporary policy decision-making) with the research orientation of the MS degree. Together, the curriculum aligns with The American Political Science Association’s (ASPSA) Principles for Graduate Education in Political Science, placing equal importance on rigorous analysis and how politics can explain the human experience.

Gain Political Perspective and Greater Value

The master’s in political science dovetails with the undergraduate coursework, fully integrating the two programs. Two graduate-level classes – American Government Institutions and Research and Analysis in Political Science - replace similar bachelor’s degree classes. Other coursework is set up to complement each other – what you learn in International Relations and Globalization sets the stage for studying Global Political Systems. And since the curriculums are so closely linked, this master’s in political science requires just 30 credits to complete, instead of 36.

As a result, you’ll need fewer classes to complete your master’s, and you’ll graduate sooner. And classes you don’t take are classes you’re not paying for. What’s more, the two graduate-level classes you take before you even complete your bachelor’s degree are billed at the undergrad tuition rate. Contact an admission counselor or academic advisor to learn more.

Added Advantages of SNHU’s Accelerated BA-MS in Political Science

  • One of the most affordable online political science programs in the nation
  • Built by and for political science professionals
  • Offered by a private, nonprofit, fully accredited university – the only university on Fast Company’s 2012 World’s Most Innovative Companies list
  • Exceptional student support – dedicated admission, academic and career advisors, 24/7 help desk
  • No GMAT or GRE required for admission

Career Paths for the Politically Savvy

The concentrated, advanced study of our accelerated track will prepare you for a rewarding career in political science. You may even find that the flexibility of the program allows you to begin working in the field while pursuing your advanced degree.

And what career paths will this degree open up for you? According to the American Political Science Association, about 53% of political scientists work for the federal government, but a wide array of opportunities exists at state and local levels as well. Given the analytical skills, administrative competence and communication abilities you’ll gain as a political science major, you’ll also find a wide spectrum of prospects in the business world, including law, journalism, international organizations, nonprofit associations and organizations, campaign management and polling, electoral politics, research, pre-collegiate education and college-level teaching.

In a recent study by the Georgetown University Center for Education and Workforce, the projected median annual salary for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in political science was $59,000. The earnings boost from obtaining a graduate degree was over 60%, indicating the potential for a significant return on investment with both degrees.

Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is based in Manchester, NH, with satellite campuses in Portsmouth, Salem and Nashua, NH, and Brunswick, Maine. Our online degree programs, offered since 1996, have won several awards, including Best of Business and Best Buy. SNHU is a GI Jobs Military Friendly School, an honor extended for our commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students.

Applied Political Science (BA) Curriculum

Required Core Courses

School of Arts and Sciences Required Courses

HIS-114: United States History II: 1865-Present
The second half of the United States history survey course covers the period following the Civil War. The economic, political and ideological developments that allowed the United States to attain a position of the world leadership are closely examined. Required for majors in History and Social Studies Education with a concentration in History.

Select two of the following:

COM-126: Introduction to Mass Communication
This communications survey course covers mass media, culture, and society. The course focuses on how and why the US media operate as they do, as well as on how media performance might be improved.
COM-212: Public Speaking
This course is designed to help students develop abilities, including organization and delivery skills, for all speaking situations. The evaluation and improvement of voice, diction, articulation and posture also are studied. May not be used as literature elective.
PHL-210: Introduction to Philosophy
This course provides a general introduction to the big questions of philosophy, including questions of existence, knowledge, freedom and meaning. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to great thinkers and theories while engaging them in the exploration of the same beginning questions applied to contemporary issues. Offered every semester.
SOC-112: Introduction to Sociology
Is one's identity individually or socially constructed? Are all stereotypes invalid or can there be value in generalizations? Is globalization widening the gaps or homogenizing the world? In this course, students will grapple with these essential questions in examining the world through the lens of a sociologist. Sociology offers an empirically-based methodology for critically evaluating society-from issues of individual agency to the roots of global institutions. Culture, norm stratification, systems, structure, social institutions, social change, the organization of social behavior and its relationship to society and social conditions are emphasized. Students will challenge their own preconceived notions and evaluate these constructs in terms of their relevancy to contemporary issues and problems.

Major Courses

PAD-330: Public Administration
This course is designed to introduce students to the basics of public administration and set context around contemporary political, social, economic, and administrative realities. It explores public service organizations, governance, public policies, and institutional-based programs. It also examines, from a multidisciplinary perspective, those essential competencies, values and issues important to public policy at the local, state, national and international levels.
POL-210: American Politics
This course offers a broad introduction to the structure and function of the American political system at the national level, including the roles played by the president, Congress, the courts, the bureaucracy, political parties, interest groups and the mass media in the policy- making and electoral processes. This course places special emphasis on how the efforts of the framers of the Constitution to solve what they saw as the political problems of their day continue to shape American national politics in ours.
POL-211: International Relations
This course offers a broad introduction to the study and practice of international relations, including the roles played by states and nations, non-state actors, national interests, power, morality and international law. This course places special emphasis on realism and idealism as alternative approaches to the study and practice of international relations and on their implications for ongoing efforts to construct a peaceful and prosperous global political system in the aftermath of the Cold War. Global marker.
POL-309: American State and Local Government
Many political issues in the United States, such as education, public safety, environmental protection, and transportation, are first handled and addressed by state and local governments. This course explores the structure, function, and distribution of power between state and local governments and the federal government of the United States. Particular emphasis is placed on the necessary collaboration of state and local governments and their roles as partners with the federal government in effecting improvements in policies and services as well as the exploration of the legal and constitutional relationships between state and local governments.
POL-313: Political Theory and Applications
This course covers the study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior including the historical contributions of Western political theorists toward critically analyzing contemporary political institutions and ideas. Special emphasis is placed on exploring how the social and cultural contexts in which these theorists lived and worked helped to shape their political ideas.
ENG-123 and POL-210 or PHL-210
POL-328: The Legal System in America
This course is a foundational overview of the court and judicial systems, major laws in United States political history, and the lawmaking and amendment process. While an overview of major laws will be covered in the course, students will be asked to assess the legal system in general terms to recognize patterns in civil liberties, judicial interpretations, and judicial activism. A specific focus on how social movements and public opinion have influenced court decisions will also be included.
POL-360: Introduction to Comparative Politics
This course examines the development of different political systems including the relationship between factors (culture, economics, geography, etc.) that influence political development and national identity. Students will study key components of what separates political systems from one another, as well as differences within individual political systems and how they are applied by different nations. Special attention will be paid to understanding how democratic nations vary in their political institutions (legislative, judicial, executive) and how these applications influence public policy and how countries are viewed by one another.
POL-210 and POL-211
POL-364: Globalization and World Politics
This course is an exploration of globalization and how it relates to political systems, economic systems, technology, culture, and participation/activism in government. Students will be introduced to concepts of war and peace, terrorism, nationalism, etc., and how these issues affect and intersect with policy regarding international relations. Contemporary issues in globalization will be explored and analyzed for efficacy.
POL-210 and POL-211
POL-491: Political Science Capstone Experience
This Capstone course integrates previous coursework and practical experience with a focus on contemporary issues in the field of Political Science. Students produce a thesis or action research plan on their chosen subject as a culmination of their studies in the undergraduate program. Students must have completed 30 credits in their program to enroll in this course.

Political Science Accelerated Track

POL-500: Research and Analysis in Political Science
Political science emphasizes the use of research and data to propose and promote positive changes to public policy. In this course, students will examine a variety of contemporary political challenges and issues through the lens of the public good. Students will be asked to conduct research on and propose solutions for common issues that effectively address the issue in a non-partisan manner while using various research methods and tools used across the field of political science.
POL-520: American Governmental Institutions
This course focuses on the analysis of key actors in U.S. politics including the presidency, Congress, the judiciary, interest groups, and political parties. Emphasis is also placed on the interaction among the various institutional actors and the influence that internal and external processes, the electorate, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations have on the political system. The course takes a case-study approach to the study of American institutions by examining critical historical developments that have influenced and are reflected by modern governance in the United States.

Major Electives

Select four of the following:

COM-227: Public Relations
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of public relations in the United States. Students study the major figures in this field as well as organizations, their behavior, and the relationships between organizations and their publics.
ENG-11, ENG-121, ENG-121H or ENG-200
COM-310: Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, blogs, podcasts - the possibilities of social media today are countless and ever-changing. This course is a broad approach to the history, theory, technology, impact and strategic uses of social media. These tools are relatively inexpensive and accessible technologies that enable anyone to create, publish, edit and access messages intended for the smallest to the largest of audiences. Students will examine the strategic uses of social media for community building, civic and political participation, advertising, marketing, public relations, and journalism. This course provides hands-on experience with the most current technology.
ENG-121 or ENG-200
COM-320: Exploring World Cultures/Mass Media
This course seeks to expand global cultural understanding and communication by examining pop culture and media systems in various countries. Students will have the opportunity to expand their cultural perspective by exploring music, film, television, radio, print media, technology, and urban and youth culture. Topics will include media imports and exports, media audiences, media financing and regulation, media research and reporting, media effects, media ethics, meaning and communication through media, and intercultural communication. In lieu of a text students will use extensive Internet research, personal interviews, podcasts, discussion boards, various supplemental material, and independent cultural exploration. Classes will consist of brief lectures, discussion, viewing of media, and in-class research and projects. Global marker.
COM-126 or COM-128 and ENG-121 or ENG-200
HIS-113: United States History I: 1607-1865
The first half of the United States history survey courses covers the period from the founding of Jamestown to the end of the Civil War. The development of regionalism and its effect on the coming of the Civil War provides the framework for the investigation. Required for majors in history and social studies education with a concentration in history.
HIS-222: War and Society, Antiquity to 1800
A survey of warfare during the ancient, medieval, and early modern eras. Particular attention will be devoted to the evolution of military technology and the various ways that Western and non-Western societies adopted gunpowder weaponry.
HIS-223: Modern War & Society
This course will introduce students to the history of warfare in the modern world. It will focus on the modernization of military technique and technology among Western societies, and also on the various that ways non-Western societies encountered this new and evolving way of war- either falling victim to it or importing and emulating it with varying degrees of success.
HIS-245: United States History since 1945
An examination of the United States in its rise to global power in the aftermath of World War II. Central to the course are the international and domestic realities of the Cold War, particularly the struggle for equal civil rights within the United States. The course will examine the post-Cold War world as well, examining the transition to the domestic and international challenges of the 21st century.
JUS-224: Legal and Justice Research Methods
A criminal justice exploration of the specialized methods and sources of legal and justice research in these areas. Justice publications and resources, case collections, computer-assisted research, constitutional materials, legal history, legal periodicals, legislative history, practice and procedures, and social science materials related to law. Application of legal research strategies will be required.
JUS-261: Judicial Administration
An examination of the American judicial system, highlighting state, local, and federal tribunals, including an assessment of their hierarchy, subject matter jurisdiction, and administration. Also reviewed will be judicial reasoning, judicial process and the chief personnel responsible for judicial operations. More particularly the course will expose the various phases inherent in civil and criminal litigation including the concepts of jurisdiction, venue, parties and the pleadings that guide advocacy. Typical case calendars and dockets will be examined throughout the course so that students may acquire a complete understanding of the litigation process.
JUS-305: International Criminal Justice
This course compares and contrasts the criminal justice system of the United States with the systems of other countries on a substantive and procedural basis. A thorough examination of other cultural models of law and justice in order that differences in justice processing and definition become apparent. Some emphasis is placed on international policing and legal enforcement, whether through INTERPOL, treaty or other regulation.
JUS-375: Criminal Law
An introduction to substantive criminal law that reviews the social, philosophical, and legal foundations of criminal codification. In addition, the course covers the historical development of criminal law in the U.S. Other subject matters include parties to crimes including principals/accessories, criminal capacity, criminal elements, e.g. mens rea, actus rea, and the specific crimes against person, property, and public order. Lastly, the course captures criminal law from the defendant's perspective by reviewing the accuser's mental states, potential defenses and uses of mitigation.
JUS-455: Legal Traditions
This course encompasses a complete examination of the law, its origins, roots and underpinnings in a jurisprudential context. Coverage includes a focused examination of classical, medieval and contemporary legal thinkers. Problems of personal privacy, sexual freedom, procreative control, the imposition of penalties, and notions of good will be considered. Course participants will consider these questions: What is law? Is law related to religion and morality? What are the foundations of law in Western Culture? Can law, ethics and morality be differentiated? How can a legal system be just? Can law shape morality or does morality shape law? How does Western legal tradition resolve ethical questions such as abortion, suicide, euthanasia, and the death penalty? Is there a unified vision of law that consists of the good, of virtue and the idea of justice?
PAD-331: Public Administrative Ethics and Theory
This course will examine the underlying theories of public administration and their impact on community goal achievement. Students will examine supervisory and leadership behaviors in public administration and consider the ethical implications of public administration.
PAD-332: Municipal Government Operations
This course will examine the functions, hierarchy and management of various local government departments. Students will learn the interrelationship of various community departments as well as the roles of leadership and community boards within local government.
PAD-340: Public Fiscal Management
This course will analyze methods of securing public funds, the process of budget makings, and the techniques used by government and public administration in managing public funds.
PAD-341: Disaster Recovery and Response
This course will examine government and community behaviors, responses and recovery efforts following emergencies and disasters. Specific emphasis will be place of service delivery models and strategies, coordination of assistant services, and the dynamics of the recovery process.
POL-371: Political Parties and Interest Groups
Political parties and interest groups play a critical function as mediators between citizens and government. The effectiveness of various groups in representing citizen interests and influencing voting behavior is a central question of this course. Students will examine political parties, interest groups, voting blocks, activist groups, and special interest mobilization from an applied approach, analyzing the ways these groups have influenced voting trends and participation with the goal of improving civic engagement.
POL-372: Campaign Finance and Fundraising
Financing a successful campaign requires dedicated fundraising at the beginning, middle, end and every stage in between. It is increasingly important that all members of a campaign understand the importance of fundraising and the regulations around campaign finance. This course takes these topics head on and introduces students to successful fundraising tactics, the role money has played in campaigns, elections, and policy development, and the key laws and regulations around campaign finance.
POL-374: Campaign Organizing and Mobilization
This course provides students with opportunities to both investigate successful strategies of historical and contemporary campaigns as well as pragmatically develop their own best practices for campaign leadership and management. The course introduces students to advanced concepts in campaign organizing such as mobilization, volunteer development, voter targeting, technology tools and systems for organizing, grassroots organizing, and messaging, among others.
SOC-213: Sociology of Social Problems
Students in this course analyze contemporary social problems in America and other societies. Issues include economic limitations, class and poverty, race and ethnic relations, sexism, ageism, and environmental and population concerns. Offered every year.
SOC-291: Experiential Learning
A course designed to explore community services to individuals and groups through a volunteer experience that involves observation and participation in activities. Classroom experiences are geared to giving the student both exposure to and an understanding of services available in the field today.
SOC-112 and Must be enrolled in psychology or soci
SOC-490: Community Sociology Internship
A course designed to give the student a working experience in the social services. The student will find a site that is of interest and career potential, work out a schedule of no less than 150 hours, and fulfills the learning outcomes of the course. This is an experiential course in which the student works closely with a site supervisor, the instructor of the course, as well as engages in some productive function within the agency.
SOC-112 and Must be enrolled in psychology or soci

MS in Political Science Curriculum

PAD-632: Foundations of Public Policy
This course is an introduction to the public policy process. Students will develop an understanding of what "political" and "public policy" mean. Topics discussed include why some problems reach the public agenda, why some solutions are adopted, why others are rejected, why some policies appear to succeed while others appear to fail. The course also examines the complexity of policymaking at the national, state, and local levels.
POL-510: The Study and Practice of Political Science
This course introduces students to graduate-level study of political science including foundational concepts and approaches to the discipline. Students will explore the contemporary role of political science in the United States, common theoretical lenses and methodologies used to study political science, and use of empirical data and research to address problems across the various domains relevant to political science and public policy.
POL-530: Contemporary Political Thought
Contemporary political thought is heavily informed by specific philosophies and ideologies. In this course, students will discern how various political platforms and policies reflect specific political philosophies, as well as the effects of competing philosophies on public processes, policies, and dialogue. Topics covered include pluralism, the role of national and state government, the role of the individual in a democratic society, extremism, justice, and power.
POL-540: Global Political Systems
This course examines the functions, behaviors, policies, and roles of various global political systems at the national, international, and transnational levels. Students will analyze the goals of foreign policies, internal conflicts and their reflection on national and international interests, geopolitics and environmental protections, the efficacy of international organizations and diplomacy, and the bearing of these elements on contemporary issues on the international stage.
POL-550: Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Lobbying
Political parties, interest groups, and the mass media have been characterized as the "transmission belts" that connect politicians to the public, as well as a vehicle for achieving political objectives. In this course, students will examine how these groups differ in their role and approaches and how they affect public opinion and political decision making. Topics include the history and development of political parties and interest groups, their relationship with governmental and non-governmental institutions, and how they have influenced and are influenced by an ever-changing political landscape.

Choose four of the following:

COM-530: Law & Ethics: A Line in the Sand
Legal issues related to communication and media in the U.S. are rapidly changing in an age where technology and the distribution of mediated messages are ubiquitous. Thus, this course contends with the major legal, ethical, and policy issues related to mass media communication particularly focusing on those issues that impact digital and public communication. Concepts related to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, libel, obscenity, censorship, right to privacy, intellectual property, and the governance of media and digital technology will be explored. Additionally, this course asks students to contend with many ethical issues and philosophies pertinent to media and communication in the interest of articulating a personal ethical framework as a graduate communication student and practitioner.
COM-600: Communication for Leadership
This course aims to prepare students for a variety of leadership roles in dynamic organizations and environments. Students will analyze key aspects of leadership, relationships, and organizations such as: organizational culture, conflict in interpersonal and organizational settings, organizational roles and socialization, power in personal and professional relationships, and group communication theories. Students will contend with these concepts from a personal standpoint by using examples from their own relationships and workplaces to apply best practices and improve their own communication and leadership skills. Additionally, this course takes a systems theory approach to organizations and teams, looking at the interrelationship of events, people, and ideas and the systemic impact of small and large changes.
PAD-631: Strategic Management in Public Service
This course is designed to provide an academic foundation to applied strategic management in public service. Identifying the factors that differentiate public service from the private sector, strategic planning and the implications those differences have for managers. Emphasis is placed on applied strategic planning and management including how to create a mission statement, conduct a SWOT analysis, conduct a stakeholder analysis, writing goals and objectives, and how to design and implement a performance measurement and management system. Current approaches to strategic management used by federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations are emphasized.
PAD-633: Intergovernmental Relations
This course is designed to demonstrate the challenges and strategies for governance and administration in an institutional environment of fragmented authority and dispersed power. It defines the balance of shared powers between the layers and institutions of government poses and the considerable challenges to policymakers and administrators. Major dimensions of intergovernmental relations: the vertical dimension of federal, states, and local governments, that cooperate, coordinate, and compete for shares of power, and the horizontal dimension in which sub-governments interact with one another. The course examines the structure of American political institutions, the nature of complex policymaking, governance by networks, and the consequences of competition between governments.
POL-608: The Presidency and Congress
This course is designed to familiarize students with the structure, functions, duties, and relations of the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Students will evaluate how the power and authority of the President and Congress and the interplay of checks and balances have evolved over time. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of patterns of leadership, policy successes and failures, and the influence each branch has had the other, as well as the U.S. political system in general.
POL-610: Judicial Politics
This course is designed to familiarize students with the structure, functions, duties, and relations of the judicial branch of government including the predominant questions, processes, and actors at work within it. Topics include the relationship between the judicial branch and other branches and agencies of the government, the organization, power, and authority of the courts, and the political dynamics of the judicial system.
POL-612: State, Local, and Urban Politics
?State and local governments play an important role in the formation and implementation of public policies. In truth, state and local governments have a larger effect on the daily lives of most U.S. citizens than the Federal government. This course examines the politics, institutions, and policy processes of state and local governments. Topics covered include large urban settings where larger social, political, and economic demands and constraints lead to more complex and dynamic political systems in comparison to rural settings which have much different issues to contend with.
POL-614: The Politics of Marginalization
This course is designed to familiarize students with the processes whereby individuals, groups, or communities may become disenfranchised from opportunities within society as well as the modes of power available for various minority communities. Topics include the study of political theory and policy regarding access to resources based on factors such as social class, education, race, and gender, among others. Specific focus will be made on developing strategies for avoiding exclusionary practices in the public realm.
POL-632: Campaign Management
The campaign management course involves a study of the strategic processes by which campaign decisions are made including planning, development, roles and responsibilities of team members, execution, implementation, and analysis of field data. Students will take both a theoretical approach as well as develop action plans for hypothetical campaigns. This course prepares students to develop the strategic tools necessary for campaign leadership and management through an examination of lessons learned in effective and non-effective campaigns.
POL-634: Campaigns, Elections, and Strategic Messaging
This course involves an integrated and advanced study in historical and contemporary theoretical approaches to campaigns and elections. Topics for investigation include fundraising, recruitment and capacity planning, use of various communication tools such as social media, long-term strategies of staying on message, and analyzing audience and public speaking scenarios, among others. Emphasis will be placed on the impact of these factors on how messages are interpreted through historical case studies. Students will also be engaged in recommending strategies for addressing these concerns.
POL-636: Political Mobilization and Activism
Civic engagement in the political process has been an important cornerstone of the American election process. Many shifts in public and social policy are due to the mobilization and activism of everyday citizens championing a cause, policy, or candidate they believe in. This course studies the strategies and efficacy of historical political activism and studies the use of new tools and technology to communicate ideas to as many people as possible.

Capstone Course

POL-790: Capstone in Political Science
The capstone course in Political Science integrates previous coursework and practical experience with a focus on contemporary issues in the student's chosen concentration. This course focuses on helping students produce a thesis or action research plan, with special emphasis placed on strategic messaging and deliberate communication on their chosen subject, as a culmination of their studies in this graduate program.
Senior standing (30 credits or more)

Total Undergraduate Credits: 120
Total Graduate Credits: 30
Total Program Credits: 150

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