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Learn about elections with online courses and programs

Elections play a crucial role in democratic societies. They provide citizens with the opportunity to express their political will and choose their representatives and leaders. Learn about elections and their function in democratic systems on edX.

What are elections?

In a democratic society, different political parties and candidates with varying ideologies can compete for government representation. The outcomes of their efforts culminate in elections, where citizens can have a voice in the decision-making process within their community, state, or country.

Following an election, officials are responsible for making decisions on healthcare, education, the economy, foreign policy, and other issues. Staying informed about candidates and the issues they focus on can also increase citizen engagement in their communities and wider public forums.

Building an understanding of how elections work can be a gateway into many different industries. People who work in political fields draw from a wide variety of skills, including communications, critical thinking, data analysis, and the ability to distill complex ideas into succinct talking points.

Elections | Introduction Image

Elections and politics course curriculum

Whether you’re embarking on your own campaign trail or watching the midterm elections from your couch, a working knowledge of the elections process can benefit any learner. A strong foundation in the fundamentals of elections and politics can be a great place to start.

Introductory courses may follow a curriculum that presents the following topics:

  • Political science basics

  • Political ideologies

  • Government structure

  • Political parties

  • Voter behavior and public opinion

  • Campaigns and media

Depending on your personal and professional interests, you may delve further into specific topics related to elections. These may include comparative politics, political institutions, the political economy, international relations, and political philosophy. Plan to stay on top of current events and political developments, which can help inform your total view of politics and, in turn, elections.

edX offers online courses that allow learners to study a variety of topics including political science, public policy, and much more. ‌Sign up for an accelerated boot camp or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor's degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.

Explore jobs in politics

If you’re interested in shaping public policy, governance, and the democratic process, politics and elections offer a wide range of career opportunities. Here are some jobs in politics and related fields:

  • Politician: Represents the interests of their constituents and makes policy decisions, typically starting their career in a local position.Footnote 1

  • Political consultant: Provides strategic advice and helps with campaign strategy, messaging, polling, and public relations.Footnote 2

  • Political analyst: Works in media outlets to provide insights and analysis on political events, elections, and government policies.Footnote 3

  • Public relations (PR) specialist: Helps political candidates, parties, or advocacy groups manage their public image and communication strategies.Footnote 4

  • Political scientist: Conducts research on government systems, political behavior, and public policy.Footnote 5

While many of these roles exist within similar industries, employment qualifications for careers that may require knowledge of elections can differ based on the position and employer. Some roles may require a higher level degree, for example. Before deciding on which learning path will work best for you, research potential roles you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your professional aspirations.

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