Masters of Applied American Politics & Policy

The FSU Masters of Applied Politics & Policy (MAAPP) program is a leading graduate program providing practical career training in an intellectually challenging environment for individuals committed to making a difference in the world through the political process. 

MAAPP is a Master of Science degree designed for those who seek active careers in a range of political fields including: Campaigns, Fundraising, Political Communications, Lobbying, Grassroots Organizing, Legislative Affairs, etc. MAAPP has two distinct advantages over other political science graduate programs: flexible enrollment options including evening courses for students holding full-time jobs during the day, and the significant political networks available due to our location in Tallahassee, the capital city of the third-largest state in the U.S.

MAAPP is a 36 credit hour non-thesis program, including 24 credit hours of coursework and a 12 credit hour practicum. Students taking 12 credit hours per semester for three consecutive semesters may earned the degree in a 1-year period.

Established in 2001, MAAPP has over 500 graduates who hold prominent positions in Florida and national politics. Many of our students leverage this valuable network to land their next political job and advance their career. MAAPP is a top national masters program for applied learning and is part of the FSU Political Science Department, which consistently ranks as one of the top-20 programs in the US.

Currently enrolled undergraduate students at FSU may qualify for the Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Pathway where up to 12 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework will count towards requirements for both degree programs (BA/BS and MS). More details are available in the Student Guide for the Combined Pathway and Application.

Graduate Admissions

MAAPP considers new applicants twice each year – for the Spring semester and the Fall semester.  Applications for the Spring must be submitted by November 1 and admission decisions are generally completed by early December.  

For the Fall, April 15 is the due date for early admission and regular admission applications are due by July 1. There is no difference in the application materials that are submitted for the early and regular admission, however, preference is given to applicants who submit meritorious application materials by the early due date. Decisions for early admission are generally completed in early May. Outstanding applicants may be offered admission this this time, while the remaining applicants for early admission will be considered along with applicants for regular admission. Decisions for regular admission are generally completed in late July. 

APPLICATION DUE DATES

Fall – Early, April 15
Fall – Regular, July 1
Spring – November 1

Application Process

You will be required to submit the following through to Office of Admissions using their electronic application procedures.

Electronic Application Submission Requirements 

  1. Complete the FSU Graduate School application online.

    Please note that the application for entry into the MAAPP program is listed under the major name “Applied American Politics and Policy.” Applicants should select the Campus/Location as “Main Campus-Tallahassee.” The degree is a Master’s of Science.
  2. An OFFICIAL copy of transcripts from all previous universities/colleges attended must be submitted to the following address:

    Office of Graduate Admissions
    222 South Copeland St
    Westcott Building Room 314
    Tallahassee FL 32306-1410

    Students having earned a bachelor’s degree from FSU are not required to submit paper copies of transcripts.
  3. Statement of Purpose (approx. 500 words), detailing your interest in pursuing the MAAPP degree, your qualifications, political experience, and your long-term career goals, as well as any other important information you wish for the Admissions Committee to consider.
  4. Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Submit a current resume/curriculum vitae with the application.
  5. Unofficial GRE and/or LSAT Score Reports (Optional): To expedite processing of applications, the Department will accept a scanned copy of the GRE score report from the applicant.
  6. Writing Sample (Optional): The writing sample should not exceed 2,000 words and should be submitted as either a .doc or .pdf file.
  7. International students must also submit TOEFL scores to the University’s Graduate Admissions office. Per University requirements, a minimum score of 80 on the internet-based examination or 550 on the paper-based examination, are required for admission into the program. Other English proficiency examinations will not be accepted.

    During the application process, feel free to contact the Department’s Academic Coordinator, Elisa Kuchvalek (ekuchvalek@fsu.edu), to check on the status of your file or to pose any questions you may have.

Admissions Standards

Decisions about admission are based on academic performance, political and professional experience, and the applicant’s statement of purpose. The applicant’s writing sample (optional), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores (both optional) may be considered.  MAAPP admission is competitive and based on the number of available slots, which varies from semester to semester.

Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their upper-level coursework at the undergraduate level (GPA is calculated beginning with the semester the student reaches their sixtieth credit hour as listed on undergraduate transcripts).

The University requires the completion of a graduate-entry examination, however due to the COVID Public Health Emergency, it is optional. The MAAPP program Graduate Record Examination (GRE) target score is 149 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam, or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) with a target score of 151. Materials are submitted electronically to the department via the University’s graduate admissions application system. 

A comprehensive review of the applicant’s file will be completed by the Admissions Committee and deviations from GPA and test standards are permissible for applicants who possess exceptional qualities that are not reflected in these criteria. Because admission is competitive, no particular GPA, test score, or professional experience guarantees acceptance. 

Applicants will receive notification of the admissions decision after all admissions materials have been received and reviewed.

Curriculum Overview

MAAPP is a 36 credit hour, non-thesis program comprised of 24 credit hours of coursework and a 12 credit Practicum. Twelve of the 24 credit hours are in core courses; the remaining 12 semester hours are electives. 

Core Courses 

  • Students complete one course in the following four areas: 1) Fundamentals of Political Management 2) Communications 3) Campaigns 4) Policy/Research 

Elective Courses

  • Students complete four approved courses from MAAPP electives or Department-approved courses offered outside of the program.

Practicum

  • Students enroll in POS 5945 MAAPP Practicum for a total of 12 credit hours and have the choice of enrolling in the course in one semester for 12 hours or two separate, consecutive semesters for 6 hours each. POS 5945 is offered each semester and students may not register for the Practicum for their first semester in MAAPP.  There are two elements of the Practicum: a work requirement and a paper requirement.

MAAPP offers courses in all three semesters: Spring, Summer, and Fall. Each course is generally offered once a year, though course offerings evolve over time and vary from semester to semester. Below is a description of recent MAAPP courses.

Core Courses

Fundamentals of Political Management. This course provides foundational knowledge about, and a common framework for understanding contemporary American politics. The course offers a critical examination of the operation of American political institutions and the philosophical and political environment in which these institutions function. This course counts as a core course and must be completed for the MAAPP degree.  

Political Communication and Message Development. This course introduces students to the specialized forms of communication used by political professionals. Students learn how to produce strategically sound and rhetorically powerful messages for electoral campaigns, policy campaigns, and crisis situations, as well as how to evaluate the messages of others. This course counts as a core course for Communications or as an elective.  

Applied Media Selection & Application. This course focuses on media selection and application in political and public relations initiatives. Given the constantly evolving landscape of modern media, students are given a theoretical framework from which to base future communications/media decisions. The course reviews the basic theoretical tenets of media selection/application and then pivots to the practical applications. This course counts as a core course for Communications or as an elective.  

The Campaign Process. This course prepares students to manage political campaigns. Students examine the challenges and issues facing a campaign manager as they prepare a campaign plan that pulls together the resources and activities necessary to win. Students explore targeting, positioning, message and issues development, fundraising and budgeting, TV, radio and social media usage, as well as field and volunteer operations.  This course counts as a core course for Campaigns or as an elective.  

Creating Compelling Campaigns. In this course students develop the tools, skills, and mindsets needed to become a modern political practitioner. Students learn how to become a generalist who can work with campaigns in various roles. Through applied learning activities, students create content and other materials relevant to modern campaigns. This course counts as a core course for Campaigns or as an elective.  

Political Research. This course provides students with an understanding of political research by exploring the relationships between research methods, policy making, social and political theory, and communication strategies. Students focus on political research techniques for gathering observations, analyzing them, and using the findings for political decision making. Using real-world policy issues, students propose, plan and present a comprehensive evaluation of political research used in the policy making process. This course counts as a core course for Policy/Research or as an elective.  

Applied Policy Analysis. In this course students develop a deep understanding of the nature of different policy problems, the tools available to address public policy problems, how to read and produce policy analysis memos, and the strength of different types of scientific evidence from which policy decisions are based. The overarching goal is to examine and discuss public policy objectively and analytically, focusing on evaluating the quality of information and assessing our beliefs about the state of reality in light of the quality of evidence available. This course counts as a core course for Policy/Research or as an elective.  

Electives Courses

Lobbying. This course concentrates on the fundamentals of lobbying and advocacy, including strategy and tactics. Students learn how to lobby the executive branch and the legislature, as well as federal, state, and local governments. The course also examines lobbying the budget process, lobbying strategies, and the management of government affairs in corporations and trade associations.

The Florida Legislative Process. This course examines the Florida legislature and how it: makes laws, including passing a balanced budget; represents constituents; oversees/interacts with the judiciary and executive; and, works to maintain the integrity of the branch. Students explore the structure of state legislatures generally, the committee and floor processes, constitutional and other constraints, and vetoes and overrides. The course includes a particular emphasis on the appropriations process.

Applied Local Politics. This course provides students with an understanding of the different functions of local governments and the implications of the dynamics in local political arenas. From county government, municipal government, to school boards, students discuss and develop projects that uncover why local government is considered the government closest to the people.  

Political Fundraising. Using current candidates for political office in Florida and the data associated with them, combined with an underpinning of campaign finance regulations, students learn the basic mechanics of applied fundraising by assuming the position of finance director for a Florida State House candidate. The course culminates in the production of a fundraising portfolio for the student’s candidate of choice. 

Money in Politics. Using real-world political finance data, students explore fundraising mechanics and finance laws for federal campaigns, state and national political parties, political committees, dark money entities and the intersection thereof.  Questions addressed in the course include: What makes a Super PAC super? What is dark money and how can we shine a light on it? Are corporations people, too?

Data For Campaigns. Campaigners and policymakers are more likely to succeed if they know how to access and analyze relevant data. This course aims to familiarize students with the fundamentals of applied data analysis, which include: accessing relevant data, combining data from multiple sources, visualizing data, identifying and fixing data problems, and using data to make informed judgments about campaign activities. All of these goals will be accomplished using the R statistical programming language. To succeed in this course, students must have a strong motivation to learn R programming, but no prior programming experience is required.

Earned Media. Earned media is paid for with strategy, messaging, relationship building, and lots of rejection. In this course, students discuss earned media from multiple angles – we examine what it is like to pitch the media for a typical campaign and during a crisis and also explore the other side of the pitch by learning from experts in the media and in public office. Throughout the semester, the class will plan, implement, and manage a real media event.

Opposition Research. This course is a “How-To” guide on the operation, strategy, management, function, application, and business of opposition research in political campaigns.  Key elements of the course focus on finding, analyzing, producing, and applying opposition research in political campaigns. Students implement a plan to collect, analyze and synthesize research on political candidates. 

Faculty

Dr. Bradley Kile is Director of the MAAPP program and teaches the Fundamentals of Political Management, Political Research, and the Practicum.

Elisa Kuchvalek is Academic Coordinator for the Department of Political Science, and provides academic support and guidance to MAAPP students.

Teaching faculty for MAAPP:

David Coburn, Co-instructor for Florida Legislative Process

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, Instructor for Lobbying

Richard Herring, REHerring, LLC, Co-instructor for Florida Legislative Process

Stephen MacNamara, FSU Faculty, Instructor for the Campaign Process

Beth Matuga, Hard Ask Consulting, Instructor for Fundraising, and Money in Politics

Adam Montgomery, Knight Owl Strategies, Instructor for Earned Media

Dr. Matt Pietryka, FSU Political Science Faculty, Instructor for Data for Campaigns

Jay Revell, Revell Media, Instructor for Creating Compelling Campaigns

Drew Piers, Sachs Media Group, Instructor for Political Communication and Message Development

Courtney Thomas, Office of the Mayor of Tallahassee, Instructor for Applied Local Politics

Steven Vancore, VancoreJones, Instructor for Applied Media Selection and Application 

Todd Wilder, Silver Bullet Research, Instructor for Opposition Research

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

How does the MAAPP program differ from a regular advanced degree in political science?

The MAAPP program is a Master of Science degree designed for those who seek active careers in a number of political fields: Campaigns, Fundraising, Political Communications, Lobbying, Legislative Affairs, etc. Unlike the traditional graduate program in Political Science, which is designed for individuals with career paths in academia and research, MAAPP offers practical experience and a diverse set of skills for those interested in careers as political operatives. The MAAPP program has two distinct advantages over other political science programs of this type: flexible enrollment options including evening courses for students holding full-time jobs during the day, and the significant political networks available due to our location in Tallahassee, capital city of the third-largest state in the US.

How long will it take to complete the MAAPP degree?

Most students complete the degree as part-time students in four to five semesters. The program is designed so students wishing to complete the degree in one year may do so by taking a full-time course load of 12 credits over three consecutive semesters. Once admitted to the program, students have up to seven years to complete the requirements for the MS degree. Certain required courses are only offered once per calendar year, so students wishing to complete the program in the quickest manner possible should take these courses as they become available. Prior to each semester, students are given a guide of course offerings to help them plan their pathway to complete the degree. 

What are the application deadlines?

The MAAPP program adheres to the University’s admissions deadlines: July 1 for Fall and November 1 for Spring. Our largest admissions semester is Fall, and students have the option of submitting all materials for application review on or before April 15 for an “early decision.” This is highly encouraged for Fall applicants, as the program can only accept a limited number of students at any one time due to the need to ensure manageable class sizes.

How do I apply?

For information on graduate admissions and links to the application, please visit the Graduate Admissions Page.

What are the costs of the program?

Details are available in the Graduate Bulletin

Is financial support available?

There are a number of potential options for financial support.

  1. Details on tuition, fees, aid, scholarship and employment are updated in the Graduate Bulletin.
  2. Certain employees of the State of Florida may be eligible for tuition waivers. Details are here.
  3. The MAAPP offers limited annual scholarships and Graduate Assistantships with tuition waivers. These are announced periodically and all currently enrolled MAAPP students may apply.

Can I take courses without being admitted to the degree program?

While courses for the MAAPP program are reserved to admitted students during standard registration, there are limited options for non-MAAPP students to enroll in these courses. Students in graduate programs other than MAAPP can request enrollment in MAAPP courses on a space-available basis. The course instructor has sole discretion to grant the student written permission to add into the course, and this permission is sent to the Department’s Academic Coordinator for processing.

Students approved for the Undergraduate/Graduate Pathway may take up to 12 credit hours of MAAPP coursework prior to their matriculation into the MAAPP program. See the Student Guide for the Combined Pathway for details.

Can I use my existing job as the site of my Practicum?

The MAAPP program requires that 12 hours of credit be attained through the Practicum, POS5945. Students perform 300+ of professional political work as part of the Practicum.  Students also complete an analytical paper. Students currently working in a regular, full-time political job are often able to meet the Practicum requirements through this work.

What are the job prospects of students completing the MAAPP degree?

MAAPP graduates have an excellent record of job placement in local, state, and federal positions, as well as in the private sector. Some have used the MAAPP program for training prior to continuing on to law school and careers in law and lobbying. Since 2001, the program has awarded over 500 Master of Science degrees. Furthermore, networking opportunities while in the program provide our students with an advantage in entering the fast-paced world of politics. We welcome students with a wide variety of career aspirations.

How do I contact the Department with additional questions?

If you have any further questions about the program, you can contact us through our inquiry form or by writing to the department’s Academic Coordinator:

  • Elisa Kuchvalek 
    533 Bellamy Bldg.
    P.O. Box 3062230
    Tallahassee, FL 32306-2230
    Email: ekuchvalek@fsu.edu 

The Program Director for MAAPP also is available to answer program-specific questions: 

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