POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) – SUNY Potsdam will offer a baccalaureate program 100% online next year. The Bachelor of Arts degree in political science is the first to be offered fully 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,” Officer-in-Charge Dr. Philip T. Neisser said.

“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.”

SUNY Potsdam Department of Politics is preparing to start the new program in Fall 2023. The program will allow students to work on coursework on their own schedule.

“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,” said Professor Dr. Robert Hinckley, chair of the Department of Politics.

“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,”.

The political science program prepares students for a wide 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 can take advantage of applied learning opportunities like internships, service projects, study abroad and career services support. They can take part in real-world research projects too, 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 can also participate in the department’s career-ready joint programs, like the 3+3 BA/JD program with the University at Buffalo School of Law that allows students to complete an accelerated course of study and complete both their undergraduate education and law degree in just six years, rather than the seven year it would normally take.

The department has also joint programs with the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, allowing undergraduates to go from their undergraduate studies in political science into either Rockefeller’s Master of International Affairs or Master of Public Administration programs. Both options allow undergraduates to enroll at the University of Albany early, saving a semester of coursework and tuition and fees.

“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,” Hinckley said.

“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.”