Applications are Now Open: Click Here

Interested in a career in politics? Want to be a step ahead of others entering political careers? If so, then you may be an ideal candidate for the Public Affairs Professional Certificate. The Certificate delivers knowledge of the practical arenas of politics, hands-on training and experiential learning opportunities, interactions with professionals working in the field, and cutting-edge instruction from award-winning faculty.

What is the Public Affairs Professional Certificate?

The Public Affairs Professional Certificate is a joint program offered by the School of Public and International Affairs’ Department of Political Science and Grady College of Journalism’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations. This interdisciplinary certificate, one of the first of its kind offered in the nation, prepares a cohort of students who are majoring in either SPIA or Grady (or both in the case of double majors) with critical academic knowledge, practical information, and technical skills in the area of applied politics and public affairs communications. This program’s focus is to take what we have learned in political science and apply it. By engaging in real-world applications, students and faculty will be better able to generate better theory, better research that tests the theory, and better training for those who wish to work in the real world, because if you have training in both these areas, you will better be able to make predictions about political outcomes. Beginning in fall of 2016, the Certificate has offered two tracks: Applied Politics and Public Affairs Communications. The goal is to provide UGA students with a competitive advantage in the area of professional/practical politics and public affairs communications.

The Public Affairs Communications Track (PAC)

Grady majors who are interested in the PAC Track, which includes POLS 5030 Introduction to Applied Politics, should visit the Grady PAC page for further information that is specific to that track. SPIA majors or Grady/SPIA double majors should continue reading below.

The Applied Politics Certificate Track (AP)

The AP track within the new SPIA-Grady interdisciplinary certificate, will prepare SPIA students to compete effectively in the world of electoral politics (running for office, campaign management, including finance, mobilization, communications, strategy), advocacy and lobbying, polling, political consulting as a business, and political data analysis, by providing some of the critical tools and skills that will be the foundation of their professional development.


Admission to the Applied Politics Track is open to majors in SPIA and Grady/SPIA majors who meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of 30 hours (including POLSCI 1101 Introduction to American Government)
  • Completion of a statistics course (any STAT course, MSIT 3000, BIOS 2010+L)
  • Completion of one upper-division studies course (3000 level or above) offered by either POLSCI or ADPR.
  • A combined grade average of a 3.2 or higher for the three required courses.
  • Submission of an essay that details the student’s interest in applied politics.

Fall Semester (9 hours)

POLS 5030 Introduction to Applied Politics (3 hours) – This “Launchpad” course will introduce students to substantive issues and knowledge needed to pursue a career in politics and politically-oriented advertising and public relations. Course material will be integrated with guest lectures by a variety of practitioners from politics and public affairs.

ADPR 3860 Introduction to Public Affairs Communications (3 hours) – This course describes the field and the role of public affairs and advocacy in shaping public policy, legislation, and politics. Relevant topics include politics and media, ethics, advocacy advertising, and elements of historical campaigns.

POLS 4150 Research Methods for Political Science (3 hours) – This course will be taught with a dedicated Applied Politics section and will focus on helping students develop the tools necessary to engage in applied politics and applied politics research.

Spring, Summer, or next Fall Semester (4-12 hours)

Internship courses may generate anywhere from 4 to 12 hours of course credit depending on the combination of requirements utilized by the professor and student. Internships must be sponsored by the Director of the Applied Politics program and developed with the specific career interests of the student in mind.  Students may engage in an internship program affiliated with another body, however, students must register for POLS internship hours (at least 4) in order to meet the curriculum requirements for the Applied Politics track of the Public Affairs Professional Certificate.  The core courses in the Applied Politics Program should be completed before the internship portion begins, however, some exceptions may occur and will be determined by the Director of the Applied Politics. Students must meet with the Applied Politics Director in person regarding their internship and assignments prior to registering for internship hours.

  1. Go to the online application for either the Applied Politics Track or Grady PAC Track.
  2. Complete all required information in the online form.
  3. Check that you have completed the prerequisites and have the proper grade requirements.
  4. Submit your 250 word essay about your interests, skills, and experience in the field of Applied Politics.

Thank you to the practitioners who have shared their stories, practical career advice, and best practices in the realm of public affairs and public affairs communications, and to the professors who have shared their research and expertise in the science of politics.

(NOTE:  Affiliations are those of the practitioner at the time of their visit.)

Alexa Bankert, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UGA School of Public and International Affairs
James Beverly, Georgia State House Minority Leader, District 143
Jaylen Black, Press Secretary, Abrams for Governor Campaign
Mallory Blount, Director of Specialty Media at the White House, Communications Director, Walker for Senate
Greg Bluestein, Political Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Ryan Bowersox, Senior Policy Analyst, Senate Research Office, Georgia State Senate
Kaitlyn Branson, Vice President of Operations, War Room Strategies
Charles S. Bullock, III, Richard B. Russell Professor, University Professor of Political Science, UGA School of Public and International Affairs
Mary Carol Butterfield, Associate Producer, Fox & Friends
Keisha Carter Brown, Public Service Partner, RaZor Solutions Group, LLC
Ananda Costa, Integrated Communications Representative, Skunkworks, Lockheed Martin
Jordan Chinouth, President/Chief Executive Officer, War Room Strategies
Shelbi Dantic, Campaign Manager, Boudreaux for Congress
Rebecca DeHart, Executive Director, Democratic Party of Georgia, and CEO of  Fair Count
Christopher Devine, Director of Budget and Appropriations at United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Geoff Duncan, Lt. Governor, State of Georgia
Earl Ehrhart, State Representative of Georgia
Wells Ellenberg, Government Affairs Manager, Southern Company
Terry England, Georgia State House Representative, Chair, Appropriations
Bill Evelyn, Broadcast/Video Specialist, UGA Marketing & Communications
Carmen Foskey, Executive Director, Georgia Republican Party
Spencer Frye, GA State House
Jordan Fuchs, Vice President, Landmark Communications
Houston Gaines, GA State House Representative, Applied Politics First Cohort
Jim Galloway, Senior Political Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Kristin Garrett, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UGA School of Public and International Affairs
Ben George, Catapult Consulting, former Chief of Staff for State Democratic Leader, Georgia State House
Austin Gibbons, Public Policy and Economic Development Advisor, Office of the Governor
Kelly Girtz, Mayor of Athens, Georgia
Patrick Guthrie, Political Director, Clyde for Congress, State Field Director, Kemp Campaign,  Applied Politics Fourth Cohort
Cody Hall, Press Secretary, Governor Kemp
Jessica Hayes, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. House Member, Jody Hice
Neill Herring, Lobbyist, GA Sierra Club, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Flint Riverkeeper, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, GA Forest Watch
Robin Hubier, Jackson Spalding, Corporate Social Responsibility
Will Hurd, Former US Representative, Texas’ 23rd Congressional District
Melissa Jackson, Broadcast Media Relations Coordinator, UGA Marketing & Communications
Robert Jimison, NYT Associate Producer, The Daily
Bree Johnson, Digital Strategist, currently with Tomlinson for Senate
Josh Jones, President/CEO Red Clay Communications
Ronny Just, Governmental Relations Manager, Georgia Power
Paul Kilgore, PDS Compliance
Jasmine King, Director of State and Federal Affairs at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce
David Lakly, Vinson Institute, Expert, Georgia Legislative Process
Dominique Leon-Davis, Move-On, Digital Mobilization
Bryan Long, CEO Southern Majority, Jackson Spalding
Josh Mackey, Vice President of Government Relations, FrogueClark
Anthony Madonna, Associate Professor, Russell Teaching Professor, Political Science Department, UGA School of Public and International Affairs
Amanda Maddox, Communications Director, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
Larissa Martinez, Director of Operations, Carly for America
Abit Massey, Georgia Poultry Federation President Emeritus
Lewis Massey, Partner at Massey, Watson & Hembree, LLC
Joel McElhannon, Managing Partner of Parlay Marketing Partners, LLC
Jim McVaney, Senior Director, Federal Relations and Policy (Energy, Environment & Agriculture) at Bayer
Chris Meredith, Assistant Chief Counsel at US Department of Homeland Security
Carey Miller,  Legal Counselor to Governor Deal
Tate Mitchell, Kemp Campaign Press Secretary and Applied Politics First Cohort
Powell Moore, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense
Patricia Murphy, Political Columnist, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Bill Nigut, Senior Executive Producer at WGPB; WSB Political Reporter
Kristin E. Oblander, President, Oblander Group Fundraising
Eric Paulk, Deputy Director, Georgia Equality
Hadas Peles, Project Manager, American Israel Public Affairs Committee
William Perry, Executive Director of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs
Xeron Pledger, Constituent Liaison and Special Projects, U.S. House Representative Johnson
Trey Pollard, National Press Secretary, Sierra Club
Speaker David Ralston, Speaker of the House, Georgia House of Representatives
Matt Ralston, Manager of State Affairs, Troutman Sanders Strategies
Ralph Reed, President, Century Strategies
Kevin Riley, Editor in Chief, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Lori Ringhand, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law, UGA School of Law
Brian Robinson, Political Strategist, President of Republic Consulting, Former Communications Director for Governor Deal
Karen Russell, Associate Professor of Public Relations &  Jim Kennedy New Media Professor, UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Adrien Sandercock, Fiscal Policy Analyst, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Applied Politics First Cohort
Ben Sheidler, Director of External Communications for Coca-Cola North America
John Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
Brett Smith, Legislative Field Representative, U.S. Rep. Ferguson
Hunter Smith, UGA Law, ADA Brunswick Judicial Circuit, DA Office, Applied Politics First Cohort
Kristen Smith, Senior Lecturer, Public Relations, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Ben Stout, Senior Field Coordinator, U.S. House Member, Jody Hice
Jessica Suh, Legislative Staff, U.S. House Rules Committee
Jenni Sweat, Press Secretary, Senator Perdue; Perdue for Governor, and Committee for Homeland Security, US House;  Public Affairs Communications First Cohort
Stuart Swinea, Field Organizer, Iowa Democratic Party
Cary Lynn Thigpen, Morning Consult and Pew Research Center, Applied Politics Second Cohort
Grant Thomas, UGA Office of Government Affairs, Director of State Relations
Michael Thurmond, CEO, DeKalb County, Georgia
Bob Trammell, GA 132, Ga House Minority Leader
Chuck Toney, Senior Strategist, Jackson Spalding
Shivani Vakhari, Legislative Correspondent and Press Assistant, for U.S. House Representative Graves
Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science and Communication Studies, UCLA
Savannah Viar, RNCC and War Room Strategies
Jeff Vreeland, Director of Digital Operations, Prosper Group
James Wallner, Vice President for Research, The Heritage Foundation
Brad Williamson, Legislative Field Representative, U.S. Senator Isakson
Chrystian Woods, Director of Organizing and Outreach, Democratic Party of Georgia


Thank you to the following donors whose generous support makes this program possible!

Mr. Eli J. Abad
Ms. Francesca T. Amodeo
Ms. Caroline L. Anderson
Ms. Morgan T. Aspinwall
Ms. Sarah J. Baines and Mr. Christopher P. Baines II
Ms. Abby L. Batchelor
Ms. Ashley M. Bays
Capt J. Wesley Bernard
Mr. Thomas D. Beusse and Mrs. Frances Doughtie Beusse
Ms. Kaitlyn T. Branson
Mr. James T. Brieske and Mrs. Cindy L. Brieske
Ms. Lynn M. Brynes
Mrs. Frances Bullock and Dr. Charles S. Bullock III
Mr. Mark A. Burkett
Mr. Brittan J. Bush
Ms. Mary C. Butterfield
Ms. Rachel L. Byers
Mr. Jake Campbell
Mr. Carter W. Chapman
Mr. Timothy R. Chapman and Ms. Emily J. Chapman
Mr. James V. Chin and Dr. Audrey A. Haynes
Ms. Allyson M. Clawson
Dr. Brett A. Clementz and Dr. Jennifer E. McDowell
Ms. Laney N. Copeland
Mr. Matthew A. Couper
Mr. Dylan R. Davis and Ms. Kelly C. Davis
Mr. Joseph W. Davis Jr.
Mr. Christopher C. Devine
Mr. Timothy B. Dickinson
Mr. David B. Dove and Ms. Courtney Dove
Ms. Julia F. Drury
Mr. Donavan K. Eason and Mrs. Ashley L. Eason
Ms. Sharri Edenfield and Mr. William Lindsey
Mr. J. Wells Ellenberg
Dr. Ashton G. Ellett and Ms. Jessica Ellett
Mr. Austin R. Emery
Mr. Raphael E. Fix
Ms. Cassidy M. Flood
Mr. Ross E. Freeman
Ms. Madison P. French
Georgia Power Foundation, INC.
Mr. Austin W. Gibbons
Mr. Kerman D. Goodin II
Mr. J. Patrick Guthrie
Mr. Keith A. Guthrie and Ms. Carolyn C. Guthrie
Mr. Robert M. Haire and Dr. Susan G. Haire
Mr. Cole M. Harper
Mr. J. Bradley Harris
Mr. Coleman R. Hedden
Ms. Brittany L. Helliar
Mr. William C. Henderson
Mr. Bryson A. Henriott
Ms. Alexa G. Hernandez
Mr. Carlos R. Hernandez and Ms. Shena D. Hernandez
Mr. Brandon F. Holtz
Mr. Jerry E. Hood and Mrs. Angela F. Hood
Dr. Melvin V. Hood III and Mrs. Ashley Hood
Mr. Mark Isbitts and Ms. Debra Isbitts
Ms. Avery M. Jainniney
Mr. Dylan M. Jolley
Mr. Ronald D. Just and Mrs. Kim Just
Mr. Evan Katz
Ms. Sara Beth Cockerham Kaufman
Ms. Abby M. Kousouris
Ms. Ashley M. Land
Dr. Joshua M. Lang
Mrs. Megan L. Larkins and Mr. Wallis M. Larkins
Ms. Noelle C. Lashley
Mr. Joseph A. Lestingi III and Ms. Kathryn L. Fisher
Ms. Malissa M. Little
Mrs. Kaylyn E. Littleton and Mr. Jeffery Littleton
Ms. Leanne E. Livingston
Mr. Joshua J. Mackey and Ms. Kallarin Mackey
Mrs. Brooke Malcom
Mr. Justin P. Maloney
Ms. Sara Beth Marchert
Ms. Jessica D. Martin
Ms. Margaret L. Martin
Ms. Larissa M. Martinez
Mr. Lewis Massey and Mrs. Amy Massey
Mr. John J. McArthur and Judge Sara McArthur
McArthur & McArthur, P.A.
Mr. Allen T. McCall
Mr. James P. McVaney Jr.
Mr. John T. C. Mitchell
Mr. Kevin L. Mitchell
Ms. Christina D. Moffett and Dr. James M. Moffett Jr.
Ms. Angela M. Morgan
Ms. Madeline C. Morgan
Ms. Katherine R. Moseley
Ms. Ivana L. Motes
Ms. Roya Naghepour
Ms. Micah J. Nix
Mrs. Caroline M. Paczkowski and Dr. Andrew M. Paczkowski
Ms. Samantha E. Paul
Ms. Anne M. Pellegrino
Mr. Ethan M. Pender
Ms. Nicole T. Phillips
Ms. Allison G. Phipps
Dr. Andrew W. Pierce
Dr. Keith T. Poole and Mrs. Jan Poole
Mr. Glyndon D. Pruitt
Mr. Robert F. Ray Jr. and Mrs. Karen Cochran Ray
Red Maple Group, LLC
Ms. Tiffany N. Reed
Ms. Cecile P. Riker
Dr. Deondra E. Rose
Ms. Catherine M. Roth
Ms. Callie Y. Roylance
Mr. Adrien D. Sandercock
Mr. Bradley H. Shanker
Ms. Savannah L. Simpson
Mr. Brett D. Smith
Mr. Hunter G. Smith
Ms. Anna Beth Smith
Ms. Margaret R. Smith
Mr. Andrew D. Stancil
Mr. Glenn A. Stegall
Ms. Katrina C. Stewart
Mr. Kent P. Strickland
Ms. Jessica J. Suh
Mr. Grant R. Thomas I
Ms. Kiara D. Thompson
Ms. Brooke N. Turner
Ms. Shivani B. Vakharia
Ms. Savannah J. Viar
LTC Scott M. Virgil
Mr. John T. Walden
Mr. Frank A. Wasser
Mr. Connor Whitney
Dr. Peter W. Wielhouwer
Mr. Brad L. Williamson
Mr. Jonathan M. Wilson
Mr. Jantz G. Womack

updated 4.5.21

2016 Cohort

Gaines, Houston
Harben, Catherine
John-Williams, Kimberlee
Lozano-roman, Glanny
MacPhail, Kate
Marticke, Sam
McAllister, Kaylyn
Mitchell, Tate
Morgan, Madeline
Naghepour, Roya
Sandercock, Adrien
Smith, Hunter
Stone, Emily
Williams, Hayley

2017 Cohort

Burkett, Mark
Conde, Louis
Dickinson, Bailey
Flores, Stephanie
Griffin, Elizabeth
Hennessy, Reed
Hood, Callie
Hudson, Josh
Katz, Evan
Knell, Samuel
Konishi, Allyson
Marsh, Charlene
Melton, Preston
Pender, Ethan
Plombon, Megan
Siggers, Grace
Thigpen, Cary Lynne
Vanden Heuvel, Alex
White, Haleigh

2018 Cohort
2019 Cohort
2020 Cohort
2021 Cohort
2022 Cohort

Archer, Isabell
Brantley, Kendall
Cardman, Keegan
Daniely, De’omini
Dempsey, Niamh Ann
Downes, Kelley
Duncan, Parker
Evans, Jessica
Fernald, Gideon
Friedman, Joshua
Gates, Trinity
Gregory, Josh
Johnson, Lauren
Kazi, Nazia
Kimberlin, Claire
Kirby, Alyssa
Martin, Hayden
Moore, George
Niane, Fatime
Oh, Hannah
Roberts, Terrell
Rogers, Anna Grace
Schultz, Daniel
Taback, Maegan
Washo, Coby
Weiss, Isabela