First-hand look into Politics & Policy

Do you want to explore issues in politics and gain a first-hand look at how Washington, DC really works? Through Graduate Professional Studies in U.S. Politics & Policy, you will learn the reality of public policy from experienced lobbyists, journalists, and congressional staffers who can offer their insight on current issues. You also will take advantage of the city's wealth of opportunities for networking and learn about various career paths to further your academic and professional pursuits. Through the program, you will set a foundation for careers in public service and political interest - in government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business and industry, or academia. Through the program, you will earn 9-graduate credits.

Your GPS Semester

The three credit graduate seminar provides a conceptual and practical understanding of how Washington works. Through exposure to political practitioners and policy makers - both elected and unelected - who influence legislation, execute decisions, resolve disputes, and help others win electoral office, the graduate seminar provides a direct understanding of applied politics. Site visits and guest speakers complement your class lectures to take you beyond the classroom and gain exposure to how politics really works in DC.

Students will not only improve their skills in evaluating current policy proposals but also increase their factual knowledge of the structures, rules, and processes of American politics, all while expanding their professional networks and gaining graduate credit toward a future degree.

As part of your GPS semester, you will have the choice of participating in a 3-day per week internship or an applied research course.

One of the greatest advantages to studying in Washington, D.C. is the unparalleled access that you have to internships. As a Graduate Professional Studies student, you will have access to our Internship Database-the largest of its kind focusing on internships in the Washington, D.C. area, along with resume and cover letter reviews and one-on-one internship advising. Our staff provides you with unparalleled resources to help you through the internship search process, so you can add relevant work experience to your resume.

Graduate Professional Studies students select a graduate level elective from across the universities course offerings. This is a good opportunity to explore potential areas of interests, add an additional skillset to your expertise, or to start fulfilling degree requirements for a future Master's degree. To explore course offerings, please review the AU Schedule of Classes and look for evening elective courses that are at the 500 or 600-level and do not require prerequisites.

Set the Foundation for a Future Degree

By participating in Graduate Professional Studies in U.S. Politics & Policy, you can start to earn credits that could count toward a Masters degree in Political Science, Political Communication, Public Administration, or Public Policy.

As you think about your GPS semester, you may want to reference the course requirements of degree programs that you may want to attend in the future. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree after GPS with American University's School of Public Affairs then you may want to take one of the following recommended elective options.

Our program office is happy to discuss how your GPS program and elective options could count toward a future degree program at American University or elsewhere.

Recommended Electives for U.S. Politics & Policy

Master's in Political Science or Political Communication
  • GOVT-536 Applied Political Writing
  • GOVT-537 Political Speechwriting
  • GOVT-683 Women, Politics & Public Policy
  • GOVT-651 Legislative Process
Master's in Public Administration or Public Policy
  • PUAD-601 Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis I
  • PUAD-617 Project Management
  • PUAD-684 Organizational Analysis
  • PUAD-616 Legal Basis of Public Administration
  • PUAD-650 Leadership in a Changing Workplace

The Department of Public Administration and Policy also recommends taking any topic course under PUAD-685 or PUAD-696. Topics vary by semester. Past topics include:

  • Public Policy for Environment and Energy
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Nonprofit Political, Advocacy, and Law
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Gender Violence and Public Policy
  • Child and Family Policy


Lana Surface
Associate Director
Graduate & Executive Education
(202) 895-4859