Political Science: Impact, Activism and Your Career

Earn a Certificate of Completion.

From building a career as a political operative in D.C. to launching a local nonprofit to fight for climate change, there are many paths that you can pursue for a future in politics and public service. Enroll in USC’s Pre-College Online certificate course, “Political Science: Impact, Activism and Your Career” to gain a realistic view of the many opportunities in politics and prepare for a future where you can have a real impact on your community.

February 19, 2024
March 4, 2024
March 18, 2024
April 1, 2024
April 15, 2024
April 29, 2024
May 6, 2024
May 20, 2024
June 3, 2024
June 17, 2024
July 1, 2024
July 15, 2024
July 29, 2024
August 5, 2024
August 19, 2024

Combined coursework of recorded lectures, readings, and assignments is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in two to four weeks.

Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program.

Recent high school graduates, students taking a gap year or time off from college and are older than 18 can request an exemption to apply by emailing precollegeonline@usc.edu and include a short paragraph (no more than 200 words) stating your interest and how this program will add value to your academic or career plans.

$1990 USD
$35 application fee


Are you interested in pursuing a future in politics and public service? But what does this mean exactly? Of course, we immediately think about being a politician, but politics is so much more than senators and presidents. It’s about getting involved in making changes that can have a real impact on your community.

Do you care about issues such as homelessness, gun violence, the environment, civil rights, international aid, healthcare, foreign policy, racial justice, gender equality, or education? Do you want to study these subjects and perhaps pursue a career in them?

This course will offer a realistic view of what it is like to work in politics and the nonprofit industries. We’ll explore WHY you should consider working in public service, WHAT kinds of careers are available, and HOW you can best prepare to land those jobs of your dreams.

In addition to learning through our incredible USC network, upon completion of this course, you’ll earn a certificate to add to your college applications. You’ll also gain a better understanding of who you want to be, what you want to study during your college experience, and the many opportunities to participate in government, community, and advocacy.

Featured Topics

  • Government at All Levels
  • Activism and Civic Action
  • Campaigns and Elections
  • Once in Office
  • Pathways to a Political Future

Learning Outcomes
This course explores different paths for pursuing a future in public service and how to prepare for a diverse range of careers around politics and issue-based activism. Following the completion of the course, students will gain a deeper understanding of:

  • The main benefits and motivations for working in public service
  • The key roles in working in government across local, state, and federal levels
  • How nonprofits operate and support issue-based activism
  • The fundamentals of working on political campaigns and running for public office
  • Getting involved in politics on the global scale
  • Applying your skills and interests to prepare for possible career paths in public service

Format and Course Length
The course consists of recorded lectures, industry connections, and activities. Each topic provides context for understanding viable career paths with professional case studies and media examples to inspire and inform students about a range of opportunities in politics and public service.

Combined coursework of recorded lectures, readings, and assignments is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in two to four weeks.


Kamy Akhavan
Kamy Akhavan Executive Director
USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future

Kamy Akhavan, former CEO of ProCon.org, the nation’s leading source of nonpartisan research on controversial issues, now leads the Center for the Political Future (CPF) at the University of Southern California. As the Executive Director, Kamy oversees the operations of all Center components including the Unruh Institute of Politics, the Fellows Program, the USC Dornsife Poll, and community and global engagement.

With more than 20 years of experience in bridging divides at national levels, Kamy’s work has served more than 200 million people, including students at more than 12,000 schools in all 50 states and 100 countries. He has been published and interviewed in textbooks, magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites including Reuters, Associated Press, Fox News, ABC, Washington Post, NPR, CNN and CBS.


Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants who submit a completed application can expect an admission decision within 3 – 5 business days.

  • Include basic contact information from you and your parent(s) or guardian.
  • Tell us why you want to take the course and a little about yourself through a short-answer essay.
  • Share a piece of writing, video or social media content that reveals something about yourself (optional).
  • Submit the $35 application fee.
  • Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program.


In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants are expected to be proficient in English. International students who successfully complete an online course will receive a digital Certificate of Completion and by request a USC Pre-College Program transcript at no additional cost.


* Scroll right to view full table
Monday, February 19, 2024Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Monday, March 4, 2024Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Monday, March 18, 2024Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Monday, April 1, 2024Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Monday, April 15, 2024Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Monday, April 29, 2024Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Monday, May 6, 2024Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Monday, May 20, 2024Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Monday, June 17, 2024Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Monday, July 1, 2024Wednesday, June 26, 2024
Monday, July 15, 2024Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Monday, July 29, 2024Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Monday, August 5, 2024Wednesday, July 31, 2024
Monday, August 19, 2024Wednesday, August 14, 2024


Application fees are nonrefundable. All course cancellations requests must be made in writing to precollegeonline@usc.edu. Any tuition paid to the university will be refunded, not including fees, if requested no more than three (3) days past the course start date. Requests to drop the course more than three (3) days after the start date will not be eligible for a refund.

The university will not refund tuition for Pre-College Online Exploration courses for students who are removed from the program due to a violation of our Letter of Understanding for Online Participation and our Student Code of Conduct.


USC Pre-College Programs is proud to honor full scholarships for our Online Exploration Courses to students enrolled in the summer session of the USC Leslie and William Morrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (USC NAI). Qualified and interested students who are enrolled in grades 9-12 can send an email for application and enrollment instructions to precollegeonline@usc.edu.