SUNY Potsdam launches complete online bachelor's degree in political science
POTSDAM – The State University of New York at Potsdam has instituted its first fully online baccalaureate program -- a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. The program is the first to be offered 100 percent virtually in the field in the SUNY System.
"We are thrilled to launch SUNY Potsdam's first online bachelor's degree. Having taught political science here for nearly 30 years (and having studied it as an undergraduate here myself), I know firsthand the value of this degree and the incredible careers that our graduates have gone on to. I cannot wait to see what kind of doors we can open through this fully online program -- reaching students from all over, while still offering the personalized guidance and support that SUNY Potsdam is known for," said Officer-in-Charge Dr. Philip T. Neisser '79.The program will kick off in Fall 2023, and faculty in the SUNY Potsdam Department of Politics are already hard at work preparing courses and applied learning experiences for the first cohort of fully online students. All coursework can be completed asynchronously, so students can work on their own schedules.
"We have heard from students who might be looking to transfer from community college or who never completed their degree elsewhere who are interested in political science or pre-law studies, but can't relocate or need the flexibility of online study so they can work or serve in the military. No matter how they study, students are going to come away with the same strengths -- analytical and quantitative skills, research, social action, and written and verbal communication," said Professor Dr. Robert Hinckley, chair of the Department of Politics.
SUNY Potsdam's political science program prepares students for a broad range of career paths, including in law, government, foreign service, public policy, social action, business and non-profit management.
"The pandemic put us in a position of having to figure out how to offer what we do online and put it together all in one package, where we can almost replicate one-for-one the experience students would have on campus. Now, we can offer that as a new degree option," Hinckley said. "The Lougheed Center for Applied Learning can support our online majors in finding internship placements wherever they are located, from legal fields to international affairs. We fully intend to weave our online majors into our traditional undergraduate student experiences, bringing them into the room to hear from guest speakers using streaming options, and helping them get involved in campus clubs and organizations."
Students will be able to take advantage of applied learning opportunities like internships, service projects, study abroad and career services support as well. They can even take part in real-world research projects, like Hinckley's ongoing national sample survey on COVID's impact on public opinion, supported by funding through the Kilmer Labs initiative.
"We are excited to get new students involved in our research. We already collaborate online with our student survey team, sharing documents, analyzing data and holding meetings virtually -- which very much mirrors the real world work that survey researchers and market researchers do," Hinckley said.
Online students will also be able to take advantage of the department's career-ready joint programs. The 3+3 BA/JD program with the University at Buffalo School of Law allows students to complete an accelerated course of study and complete both their undergraduate education and their law degree in just six years total (instead of the seven years it would typically take).
The department also has joint programs with the University at Albany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, allowing motivated undergraduates to go straight from their undergraduate studies in political science into either Rockefeller's Master of International Affairs (MIA) or Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs. Both options allow eligible undergraduates to enroll at UAlbany early, without taking the GRE -- saving a semester of coursework and tuition and fees.
No matter which path they choose, political science majors share a common curiosity in current affairs, and a conviction to make the world a better place, Hinckley said.
"A lot of students come to us because they read a news story about something going on in our country or in the world, and they're either concerned or excited and want to know more -- to understand what's going on behind the scenes. Political science offers that chance to students. Whether they're interested in international conflicts or polarization in the U.S., they will learn about the backstory that's not often being discussed, and learn about solutions. We're not talking about magic solutions, but looking at historic precedents and strategies that can be followed, to increase peace, reduce poverty and address a range of issues affecting the world," he said.
Applications are now being accepted for the new program. To learn more, visit potsdam.edu/apply.
SUNY Potsdam's Department of Politics aims to teach, energize, support and inspire students. SUNY Potsdam students pursue the study of political science or international studies to prepare for careers in law, government, foreign service, public policy, social action, teaching, business and more. For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/politics.