Practical Political Leadership Certificate

Practical Political Leadership Certificate

When it comes to being a “public servant,” working on Capitol Hill is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government employs almost a quarter of the U.S. workforce, and beyond that, one in 10 Americans works for a nonprofit organization.

The Certificate is designed for students who are interested in making an impact through any number of public service careers, both in and out of government. Our knowledgeable, approachable faculty will guide you through the fundamentals of state and urban politics, elections, and activism. You will develop oral communication, leadership, and teamwork skills, gaining hands-on leadership experience through your public service internship and by spearheading on-campus campaigns.

You will leave Saint Mary’s with a greater insight into public affairs and a wealth of conceptual, analytical, and communication skills that will be valuable in any career. 

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Certificate Requirements

The Politics Department offers a Certificate in Practical Political Leadership. The Certificate is designed for students interested in public sector careers, both in and out of government. Students who earn the Certificate develop oral communication, leadership, and teamwork skills, and apply those skills to achieve civic aims.


For students majoring or minoring in Politics:

Three Course Credits

  1. Complete one of the following: State and Urban Politics (POL 301), Political Parties and Pressure Groups (POL 302), or Elections and Voting (POL 303)
  2. Complete one Public Service Internship (POL 495)
  3. Complete either one Special Study (POL 497) or four Democracy Labs (.25 POL 393) in one of the following three areas:
  1. Organize on-campus voter registration and turnout activities in conjunction with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge
  2. Organize an on-campus public forum on a particular issue. The forum shall include alternative perspectives on the issue and consideration of how to make positive change through public action
  3. Take a leadership role in a campaign to bring about tangible changes in public awareness of a particular issue, or a change in public policy

For all other students:

In addition to the above requirements

4.   Complete Introduction to American Politics (POL 101) before enrolling in the other courses. You may substitute comparable courses from your major department, if available, for the POL 497/POL 393 requirement.


For more information, contact Professor Zahra Ahmed (; 925-631-5002)


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