So you want to walk in the footsteps of political campaign giants like David Axelrod and Karl Rove? You could take a job as a low-level staffer, pay your dues and hope for an opportunity to rise—or you could head to campaign school and kick-start your career. Over the last few decades, as political campaigning has grown increasingly sophisticated, a number of programs in professional politics have taken root in American universities. They range from weekend workshops for busy professionals to full-fledged master’s degree programs, but all are designed to offer students the tools they need to thrive in today’s cutthroat political arena.

“Programs like [these] give students extensive knowledge that they can apply in the heat of battle,” says Dr. Steve Brooks, associate director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Aspiring campaign managers, political strategists and pollsters are prime candidates for a trip to campaign school, but so is anyone who aspires to influence policy, including lobbyists, legislative specialists, grassroots activists and policy analysts. Here’s the lowdown on seven programs that should meet the scholarly needs of any would-be politico.

George Washington University, Graduate School of Political Management

Location: Washington, DC

Open To: Graduate students and undergraduates

(Semester in Washington Politics

Program only)

Degree/Program Options:

• Master of Professional Studies in Legislative Affairs,

33 credits

• Master of Professional Studies in Political

Management, 36 credits

• Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Public

Relations, 33 credits

• Graduate Certificate in Public Relations, 18 credits

• Graduate Certificate in Campaign Strategy, 18 credits

• Graduate Certificate in Community Advocacy,

18 credits

• Graduate Certificate in Online Politics, 18 credits

• Graduate Certificate in PACs and Political

Management, 1 5 credits

• Semester in Washington Politics Program, 6 credits plus internship

• Certificate in Applied Politics, 12 credits (offered through the Semester in Washington Politics Program)

Tuition:

• Graduate programs: Varies. On-campus graduate tuition is $1,175/credit, but some off-campus and online programs cost less.

• Semester in Washington Politics Program: 6-credit program, $6,951 (spring) or $6,342 (summer);

12-credit certificate program, $13,902 (spring only)

Acting Executive Director: Dr. Charles Cushman

Website:www.gspm.gwu.edu

Fordham University, Master’s Program in Elections & Campaign Management

Location: New York, NY

Open to: Graduate students

Degree/Program Options:

• Master of Arts in Elections and Campaign Management, 30 credits

Tuition:

• Two semesters full-time plus summer: $36,900

Director: Costas Panagopoulos, PhD (also Executive Editor, Campaigns & Elections)

Website: www.fordham.edu/campaigns

American University, Campaign Management Institute and Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

Location: Washington, DC

Open To: Undergraduates, graduates and working professionals

Degree/Program Options:

• 4-credit courses (held over two weeks) on campaign management (CMI) and professional lobbying and political influence (PAAI)

• 1-credit workshops (held on weekends) on specialized topics in campaign management and lobbying

• No degrees or certificates awarded

Tuition:

• 4-credit course:

Undergraduate credit: $4,820

Graduate credit: $5,196

Not for credit: $1,500

• 1-credit workshop:

American University undergraduates: $1,230

American University graduates and non American

University students: $1,324

Director (PAAI): Professor James Thurber

Director (CMI): Professor Candice J. Nelson

Website: www.american.edu/spa/ccps

University of Akron, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

Location: Akron, OH

Open to: Graduate students and University of Akron undergraduates (certificate program only)

Degree/Program Options:

• Masters of Applied Politics, 39 credits

• Certificate in Applied Politics, 18 credits plus internship

Tuition:

• Masters (two years full-time or longer part-time):

$16,022.37 (Ohio resident); $26,517.27 (out of state)

• Certificate (one year full-time or longer part time):

$7,394.94 (Ohio resident); $12,238.74 (out of state)

Director: Dr. John Green

Website: www.uakron.edu/bliss/map.php

University of Florida, Political Science Department, Political Campaigning Program

Location: Gainesville, FL

Open to: Graduate students and undergraduate political science majors (certificate)

Degree/Program Options:

• Master of Arts in Political Science with a Certificate in Political Campaigning, 36 credits plus 3-credit internship

• Certificate in Political Campaigning, 18 credits plus

3-credit internship

Tuition:

• Graduate (two-year program):

$10,500/year (Florida resident)

$28,940/year (out of state)

• Undergraduate: part of normal tuition

Director: Dr. Stephen Craig

Website: www.polisci.ufl.edu/campaign

Suffolk University, Department of Government

Location: Boston, MA

Open to: Graduate students

Degree/Program Options:

• Master of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Professional Politics, 30 credits

Tuition:

• Two semesters full-time plus summer part-time:
$29,590

Director: Professor Kenneth Cosgrove

Website: www.suffolk.edu/college/3198.html