Democracy & Government

Suffolk University’s faculty, students, and alumni are researching and reshaping the political landscape in Massachusetts and around the world. Whether polling for elections, fighting for underrepresented groups, or shaping laws from both in front of and behind the bench, Suffolk students and alumni take an active role in shaping the political and legal landscape of the country.

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Political Research Center

Suffolk University polls have tracked voter attitudes ahead of elections for the past 15 years. Established in 2002, the Political Research Center conducts statewide polls and bellwether survey analyses in New England and across the country, supplying coveted poll data to USA Today and the Boston Globe during election cycles.

Suffolk students who help conduct voter polls for the center “have a direct impact on the world,” says director David Paleologos. “It’s a hands-on commitment where you’re engaged in the political discussion.” Few colleges poll for both a major national and regional newspaper, Paleologos says—a testament to the center’s reputation for accuracy.

Ford Hall Forum

Leaders and luminaries from all over the political spectrum—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Gloria Steinem, Malcolm X, Ayn Rand, Al Gore, and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name a few—have helped the Ford Hall Forum foster freedom of speech and the open discussion of vital human issues since 1908.

University Pollworkers Project

Founded in 2006 by Rachael Cobb, chair and associate professor of government, the nonpartisan University Pollworkers Project has enlisted and trained more than 500 Suffolk students to support the beating heart of democracy—the voting booth. 

Moakley Breakfast Forum Series

Now in its ninth year, the biannual Moakley Breakfast Forum Series promotes the spirit of community engagement and public service across Suffolk University’s campus and the greater Boston community by promoting dialogue on important public policy issues of local, state, and national interest. This year’s May forum focused on “Immigration Policy: What is Good for America?”

Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic

Students in Suffolk Law’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic serve Native American tribal governments and indigenous organizations, supporting their nation-building activities and advocacy efforts. Clinic students may work with a division or branch of a tribal government and help with a variety of legal projects.

Housing Discrimination Testing Program

Housing discrimination is a persistent problem all across the country. That’s why Suffolk Law's Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP) has trained more than 200 testers, most of them students, to perform real-world tests that expose and gather evidence of housing discrimination in the Boston area. The HDTP, which has attracted over $2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also educated potential home buyers and has assisted the City of Boston with policy work.

Supreme Court Clinic

Student attorneys in the Suffolk Law Supreme Court Clinic represent low-income individuals and nonprofits before appellate courts, including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Campaign Lab: Consider Campaign Lab is a kind of political boot camp open to students and anyone interested in working on a political campaign. Through academic study, site visits, and outstanding guest speakers, this intensive program prepares people to either run for elected office or manage a campaign.

Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project

Suffolk Law students accepted into the year-long Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project study constitutional law and simultaneously teach it to Boston-area high school students, empowering them to be responsible citizens and participants in the democratic process.

Congress to Campus

Every spring, two former members of Congress—a bipartisan pair—visit Suffolk through the Congress to Campus program. The bipartisan team speaks candidly to classes about the life of a member of Congress and participates in discussions small-group discussions with Suffolk students.

Experiencing Washington: Experiential learning is crucial to the Suffolk experience. The university offers multiple travel seminars to expose students to the federal policymaking process with a visit to our nation’s capital. For example, two groups of students traveled down to Washington this past June, one an MPA course, “Politics of the Federal Bureaucracy” and the other an EMBA course, “The Washington Seminar.”  Politics of the Federal Bureaucracy is led each summer by former Massachusetts Senate Majority Leader Linda Melconian, and this year’s EMBA seminar was led by fellow Institute for Public Service faculty member, Aimee Williamson. Both courses expose students to the policymaking process, related agencies and actors, and a variety of public policy issues.

Suffolk’s undergraduate and graduate programs can help you turn your passions into action. Studying between the Massachusetts State House and Boston City Hall, you’ll enjoy unparalleled access to the halls of government and the legislators, policy makers, and others who work there. You’ll learn from—and make valuable professional connections through—our renowned faculty of scholars and practitioners. Your campaign to become a change agent starts here.

Undergraduate Areas of Study

Government Major The Suffolk University Government Department seeks to cultivate thoughtful, active, and responsible global citizens. Courses are intended to help students gain a foundational understanding of how institutions, ideas, and ideology shape politics, policy, and decision-making. Students may choose among four concentrations, including International Relations, American Politics, Law and Public Policy, and Political Theory.

The Government Department prepares undergraduate students for further study in graduate or professional schools, as well as careers in government, business, not-for-profit, and politics. Students develop expertise through a wide range of courses, close attention from faculty, student-driven research, and public service.

Law Major As demand for legal professionals grows, the Law Major offers undergraduates a unique interdisciplinary and cross-school educational experience. Students benefit from professional training and can take electives in a variety of disciplines. The major offers all students excellent preparation for further study in law, public policy, or further graduate work in a range of disciplines.

Certificate in Paralegal Studies

A Certificate offers you a work credential from the American Bar Association approved program. With just six classes, you are ready to step into a law firm government agency.

Politics, Philosophy & Economics Major This new interdisciplinary program prepares students to grapple with current and enduring social issues, with coursework spanning policy, ethics, and economics.

Public Service Minor This introduction to the field of public management teaches students how to lead a publicly controlled institution and how to contribute to policy formation and strategic planning. Public service minors accepted into Suffolk’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program can waive up to four courses, enabling them to complete both degrees in only five years.

Graduate Areas of Study

Master of Public Administration As one of the nation’s top-tier academic programs in public administration and one of only five New England schools fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), Suffolk students learn to anticipate, respond to, and lead change. Our program emphasizes flexibility, including multiple concentrations and dual degrees with Mental Health Counseling, Political Science, Crime and Justice Studies, and Juris Doctor.

MPA Dual Degrees Combine a Master of Public Administration with one of several complementary degree programs.

Juris Doctor While earning a JD, Suffolk Law students can gain practical experience in our nationally ranked clinical programs. Students with specific career ambitions can choose an area of focus such as law and public service, civil rights and human rights, international law, and immigration law, among others.


Spreading the Political Bug

Linda Malconian, the first female majority leader in the Massachusetts’s history, officially quit politics in 2005 after 22 years of service. In the decade since, Malconian has been grooming a new generation of leaders and lawmakers as assistant professor in the business law and ethics department and lecturer in the Institute for Public Service.

“I got the bug to run for political office when I was working for Tip O’Neill,” Malconian says, recalling her tenure as an assistant to the former U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the House. Every class with Malconian is a different experience, says Shauna Denise Bramble, MPA ’17, “but each [is] filled with that same unwavering exuberance she brings when she walks through the door.”

It’s About Giving Back

Kristina Desir, MPA/MSPS ‘14
Work Smart Boston, American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Program Manager

Originally from Miami, Kristina moved to Boston to attend Suffolk’s MPA/MS in Political Science dual-degree program straight after her undergraduate studies in Alabama.  She landed two dream jobs as a result, and currently is working to close the wage gap for 85,000 women in Boston.

“I got my dream job to work on a campaign my first semester at Suffolk. My new dream job was to work in the public sector, and now I’m managing a program that will impact the lives of Boston women. The MPA Program trains you to be a better public servant. It allowed me to develop the skills I would need to serve.”

“Through my connections and networks [at Suffolk], I’ve been able to intern with Senator Elizabeth Warren, work with the City of Boston Election Department and poll workers, and explore a future in public office and campaigns through the Summer Institute Campaign Lab, I’m not sure what the future has in store for me, but thanks to my time here, I am ready.”
Hannagh Jacobsen Government & History Double Major, Class of 2017
“With a double major in government and economics, what better place for me to study than next to the State House? I walk past the State House every single day and then I walk into class and I’m discussing things with my professor, real life topics that are being discussed in Congress. The first internship I had at Suffolk, my first year, was under Governor Charlie Baker, and I was able to really build connections through that office and experience what it was all about… I hope in five years to actually be an elected official here on Beacon Hill.”
Jonathan McTague Government & Economics Double Major, Class of 2018

In January, ABC chose Suffolk graduate student Jennifer Wilczynski to serve as a student reporter during a two-week Washington, D.C., academic seminar focused on the presidential inauguration. She was part of a 21-student Suffolk contingent who attended the Washington Center session.

“I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to see the media side of politics. As students and government majors, we typically only look at policy and we don’t question people who are influencing government.”

Jennifer Wilczynski Studying for Master's in Political Science, with an International Relations concentration
“I was once frightened of politics, [But] at Suffolk University, I fell in love with politics, and I met professors and students who are just as enthusiastic about learning as I am… Suffolk instilled in me the knowledge, comprehension, and critical analysis I needed to understand and dissect any political theory"
Maryam Canty Majoring in Political Science, Class of 2018