BA Political Science Degree Online

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Politically charged and civically engaged, New Hampshire has a seat at the head of the election table with the first-in-the-nation primary. From this position, Southern New Hampshire University’s online political science degree gives students a unique perspective on the relationship between the U.S. political system, public perception and the policies that shape government.

The Bachelor of Arts in Political Science takes a practical approach to politics, analyzing events in real time and applying solutions to local, national and international scenarios. You’ll explore political questions, tactics and strategies from many perspectives while you develop the critical thinking and communication skills you need to succeed in the political arena.

Why an Online Political Science Degree at SNHU?

Southern New Hampshire University has an 80-year history of graduating successful professionals, with a main campus in Manchester, NH, and satellite campuses in Portsmouth, Salem and Nashua, NH, and Brunswick, Maine. As a fully accredited traditional university with an online presence since 1995, SNHU offers you the best of both worlds:

  • High-quality instruction from our Political Science faculty
  • Quality education at one of the most affordable tuition rates available
  • Courses offered online, on-campus or a combination of both
  • 24/7 access to class - attend when it’s most convenient for you

What Will You Learn in Your Online Political Science Degree Program?

Students in SNHU's BA in Political Science degree program develop a pragmatic and comprehensive understanding of the U.S. political system with a special emphasis on ethical and empathetic civic engagement. You’ll learn to:

  • Differentiate among key components of diverse political systems and external agencies for efficacy in a global society
  • Apply social scientific reasoning, theories, concepts and methodologies to the analysis of a wide range of contemporary and historical political issues and problems using effective statistical research and analysis
  • Apply effective research literacy strategies in hypothesis testing and academic research for political science by identifying, analyzing and integrating appropriate primary and secondary sources. 
  • Demonstrate appropriate oral and written communication strategies toward specific political audiences for effective, solution-oriented decision-making

Where Can Your Online Political Science Degree Take You?

Graduates of the online BA in Political Science learn to analyze policy and politics on local, national and global scales. You’ll build and refine analysis and communication skills that can lead to careers in advocacy, campaign strategy and development, government business writing, public policy and statistical analysis, to name just a handful of the fields in this growing area of opportunity.

Career Resources:

Transfer of Credit

If you’re a student who wants to transfer to SNHU or if you simply want to finish what you’ve started, we try to make transferring as easy as possible. We’ll accept up to 90 transferred academic credits and automatically complete an official credit evaluation as part of the application review process.

Online Political Science Degree Curriculum

The online political science degree program includes an extensive overview of politics, from organization of political parties and campaigns to fundraising and finance. You'll also take courses in legal and justice research, history and public relations.

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.

Political Science 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-327: US Government and Contemporary Issues
This course extends upon the foundational American politics course. Special emphasis is placed on watershed moments in U.S. political history that have shaped policies and practices today. Students will be asked to focus a critical eye toward governing in today's world by assessing the current political climate and current policies in the interest of identifying and applying possible solutions.
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-370: Analysis and Research in Political Science
In this course, students will examine applied aspects of research methods and statistical analysis that are commonly utilized in political science research. Through case studies utilizing contemporary issues, students will investigate procedures used to gather and analyze data, provide analysis and conclusions based on social scientific inquiry, and acquire real-world skills required to design and conduct research in the field of political science.
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.

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

Free Elective Credits: 21

Total Credits: 120

SNHU's online degree programs meet the needs of today's students while ensuring educational quality and real-world applicability. Contact us to learn more about the SNHU difference.

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