Political Communication (MA) [SPA]
Offered jointly by the School of Public Affairs and the School of Communication, the MA in Political Communication offers students a unique opportunity to prepare for professional careers in government, politics, public affairs, public policy, and communication through the study of political and communication theory, research, and practice. This interdisciplinary MA program allows students to take courses in both the School of Public Affairs (SPA) and the School of Communication (SOC) that emphasize thorough grounding in political science, strategic communication, research, and media. In addition, students take hands-on courses designed to teach applied politics and communication skills over a broad range of media and production classes that introduce them to news writing, persuasive writing, public opinion research, online advocacy, and campaign management. The program gives students a strong background in research skills, a broad knowledge of political issues, and a deep understanding of how the political process and media work. Students will gain the knowledge, skills, and ethical grounding to be successful as politicians, policy-makers, political communication professionals, and campaign executives.
Admission to the Program
Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants are required to submit results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), unless they have eight or more years of relevant work experience, in which case they may apply for a GRE-waiver by contacting the school through which they are applying. GRE-waiver applicants must provide the details of their relevant work experience and the dates they were so employed. In addition, international students whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A strong TOEFL score is necessary to ensure that students may benefit fully from the coursework. The preferred minimum TOEFL score is 600 on the paper-based test (PBT), 100 on the Internet-based test (iBT); or a 7 on the IELTS. All applicants must submit two letters of reference. Applicants who received their bachelor's degrees five or fewer years before the date of application should submit at least one letter that evaluates their undergraduate academic performance and suitability for graduate study in political science and communication.
Students apply to either SPA or SOC. Applications will be reviewed jointly by SPA and SOC, with both schools agreeing on student admission.
- 36 credit hours of approved graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00.
- Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours will be considered in exceptional cases.
- Students take a comprehensive examination jointly administered by SOC and SPA at the conclusion of their required core courses.
Core Courses (24 credit hours)
- COMM-531 Political Communication (3)
- COMM-640 Principles of Strategic Communication (3)
- COMM-735 Communication Theory (3)
- COMM-738 Research for Strategic Communication (3)
- GOVT-536 Applied Political Writing (3)
- GOVT-620 Applied Politics and American Public Policy (3)
- GOVT-628 Proseminar in Political Communication (1)
5 credit hours from the following:
Capstone (3 credit hours)
Government Elective Courses (9 credit hours)
9 credit hours from the following:
- GOVT-523 The Art and Craft of Lobbying (3-4) : European Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute (3)
- GOVT-651 The Legislative Process (3)
- GOVT-652 The Presidency and the Executive Branch (3)
- GOVT-656 Voting Behavior, Elections, and Campaigns (3)
- GOVT-682 Women and Politics (3)
- GOVT-683 Women, Politics, and Public Policy (3)
- GOVT-684 Women and Political Leadership (3)
- GOVT-685 Topics in Women and Politics (1-4)
Combined Bachelor's and MA in Political Communication
American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its combined bachelor's/master's programs. See Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees for more information.
This program enables qualified students to earn, in a continuous plan of study, both a bachelor's degree and the MA in Political Communication.
- Admission to the combined BA/MA program requires junior standing, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5, a completed application form, a written faculty recommendation, an essay on the student's interests and abilities in political science and communication, and an interview with the Department of Government graduate advisor if the student is entering through the School of Public Affairs, or the advisor for the Division of Public Communication if the student is entering through the School of Communication. Students must apply for admission to the graduate program no later than the last undergraduate semester. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission to the MA program.
- All requirements for a bachelor's degree in the student's major at American University.
- Undergraduate students may apply up to 12 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework to satisfy the requirements for both degrees.
- All requirements for the MA in Political Communication, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master's degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master's program.