The University of Florida’s Graduate Program in Political Campaigning is a two-year program of study leading to a Master of Arts degree in political science, with a certificate attesting to the specialization in campaigning. It is designed to provide students who want a career in politics or public service with


  • technical skills related to strategy formation, message development and communication, resource management, polling, and other key aspects of professional politics in the 1990s;
  • an understanding of why certain campaign actions and public strategies succeed whereas others fail; and
  • a sensitivity to the democratic context of American politics, and to the notion that candidates, officeholders, and their advisers have obligations to society that extend beyond the short-term goal of winning a particular election or enacting a favorable piece of legislation.

Students in the Program take a variety of classes, involving both traditional political science (topics such as public opinion, voting and elections, political participation, survey research) as well as applied politics (campaign strategy and tactics, issue advocacy), the latter being taught by experienced professional consultants and augmented by frequent guest lectures and workshops. They also may take elective courses on such topics as political communication, fundraising, speechwriting, and the policy process, and are required to complete an internship during the summer between their first and second years.
From an entering class of just two in 1985, the Political Campaigning Program today has roughly 12-15 students enrolled at any given time. Although the number of applications has risen over the years and some additional growth is anticipated in the future, it is the department’s desire that the Program remain what it has always been – a unique and highly personalized educational experience in which students receive a degree of personal attention and regular contact with instructors that they are unlikely to get at another school.
Alumni of the Program have experienced remarkable success since graduating from the University of Florida. Their ranks include, for example, U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, also currently chair of the Democratic National Committee) and Thomas Rooney (R-FL), state representative John Tobia (R-Melbourne Beach), David Beattie (president of Hamilton Campaigns, a full-service consulting firm with clients nationwide), Shannon McAleavey (former vice president of government relations for Disney World), David Rancourt (former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush and founding partner of Southern Strategy Group, a lobbying firm in Tallahassee), Jay Payne (vice president of creative services for Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a leading Washington-area media consulting firm), Jon Anderson (founder and president of Mad Dog Mail, a direct mail firm with clients in several states), Kolby Peterson (director of polling for one of the major AFL-CIO unions), and many others.
The Political Campaigning Program is not an easy one, and we are looking for quality students. Those who succeed have an excellent opportunity to make the kinds of contacts that will help them to get started in their professional careers. Prospective students who have questions or want additional information should feel free to contact me directly at

Thank you and Go Gators!

Stephen C. Craig

Director, Political Campaigning Program

Dinner at Harry’s with (most of) the Political Campaigning graduating class of 2019.

Dinner at Harry’s with (most of) the Political Campaigning graduating class of 2019.

David Mica, adjunct professor and Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, led a seminar in state lobbying which ended with a trip to Tallahassee for the Political Campaigning students. Mr. Mica arranged for several guest speakers to address the class including: program alumna Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Samantha Sexton, Frontline Strategies Senior Strategist Matt Mohler, and Associate Vice President of Government Relations for the University of Florida Marion Hoffman. Following the morning of captivating speakers, the class was taken on a tour of the State Capitol. To wrap up the valuable trip, the students were given an inside look into the Florida Lottery. After observing a lottery drawing, they were given a tour of the facility conducted by Chief of Staff of the Florida Lottery David Mica Jr. The biennial trip provided the students with great insight into the inner workings of Tallahassee and how lobbying operates within the state government system.


The annual Spring Reflections and Projections Workshop took place in January at the Hilton Hotel. There were two panels of noted academics, journalists, and political consultants that led a discussion on the implications of the 2018 election and forecasting what to expect in 2020. This workshop was a great source of information to those interested in the political world. Click here to see pictures from the event. 

To the right: Campaigning students with top Washington lobbyist and Republican strategist Charlie Black in September 2012