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 will offer 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, tips and tricks for working in politics and public affairs communications.

Alexa Bankert, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UGA School of Public and International Affairs
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
Keisha Carter Brown, Public Service Partner, RaZor Solutions Group, LLC
Jordan Chinouth, President/Chief Executive Officer, War Room Strategies
Rebecca DeHart, Executive Director, Democratic Party 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
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
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 Riverkeepr, GA Forest Watch
Robin Hubier, Jackson Spalding, Corporate Social Responsibility
Melissa Jackson, Broadcast Media Relations Coordinator, UGA Marketing & Communications
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
David Lakly, Vinson Institute, Expert, Georgia Legislative Process
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
Carey Miller,  Legal Counselor to Governor Deal
Powell Moore, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense
Bill Nigut, Senior Executive Producer at WGPB; WSB Political Reporter
Kristin E. Oblander, President, Oblander Group
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
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
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
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
Stuart Swinea, Field Organizer, Iowa Democratic Party
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. Sarah Simpson Baines and Mr. Christopher Paul Baines II
Capt J. Wesley Bernard
Ms. Lynn M. Brynes
Mrs. Frances Mann Bullock and Dr. Charles S. Bullock III
Mr. Britt Bush
Ms. Mary C. Butterfield
Mr. Jacob J. Campbell
Mr. James Vernon Chin and Dr. Audrey Ann Haynes
Ms. Allyson M. Clawson
Dr. Brett A. Clementz and Dr. Jennifer E. McDowell
Ms. Sara E. Cockerham
Ms. Laney N. Copeland
Mr. Dylan R. Davis
Mr. Christopher C. Devine
Ms. Julia F. Drury
Mr. and Mrs. Donavan Keith Eason
Mr. Raphael E. Fix
Ms. Cassidy M. Flood
Mr. Ross E. Freeman
Mr. Robert Mark Haire and Dr. Susan Brodie Haire
Mr. J. Bradley Harris
Mr. James Vernon Chin and Dr. Audrey Ann Haynes
Mr. Coleman R. Hedden
Ms. Abby M. Kousouris
Ms. Ashley M. Land
Dr. Joshua M. Lang
Mrs. Megan Spengeman Larkins and Mr. Wallis McKinley Larkins
Ms. Noelle C. Lashley
Ms. Malissa M. Little
Ms. Leanne E. Livingston
Mrs. Brooke Malcom
Mr. Justin P. Maloney
Ms. Sara Beth Marchert
McArthur & McArthur, P.A.
Mr. John Jay McArthur and Judge Sara Miller McArthur
Mr. Allen T. McCall
Dr. Brett A. Clementz and Dr. Jennifer E. McDowell
Mr. Kevin L. Mitchell
Dr. James E. Monogan III
Ms. Angela M. Morgan
Ms. Katherine R. Moseley
Mrs. Caroline Paris Paczkowski and Dr. Andrew Michael Paczkowski
Ms. Samantha E. Paul
Ms. Anne M. Pellegrino
Ms. Nicole T. Phillips
Mr. Andrew W. Pierce
Mr. Keith T. Poole
Mr. G. Daniel Pruitt
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Franklin Ray Jr.
Ms. Tiffany N. Reed
Red Maple Group, LLC
Ms. Cecile P. Riker
Dr. Deondra E. Rose
Margaret R. Smith
Ms. Anna E. Smith
Mr. Brett D. Smith
Mr. Andrew D. Stancil
Mr. Glenn A. Stegall
Mr. Kent P. Strickland
Ms. Jessica J. Suh
Mr. Grant R. Thomas
Ms. Shivani B. Vakharia
Ms. Savannah Viar
LTC Scott M. Virgil
Mr. John T. Walden
Mr. Frank A. Wasser
Dr. Peter W. Wielhouwer
Mr. Brad L. Williamson
Mr. Jonathan M. Wilson


updated 10.31.16

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