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Online Class: American Government

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Course Description

Do you need to brush-up your knowledge of the American political system?  Have you forgotten or feel slightly 'hazy' about the structure of the American government, the details of the Constitution or the exact division of the three branches of government? Are you interested in discovering how our current political parties were formed or the impact of public opinion, mass media and special interests groups on today's American policies?  If you answered "yes" to these questions, this online course can be your ideal learning resource.

Rather than focusing on the history of the American federal government, this course is a comprehensive evaluation of how the government is set up and how it works. We will start with a look at how the American government is organized, and then we will focus on American culture and how it forms the environment in which the government functions, and the influences that the citizenry exerts on the policy-making process. Public opinion plays an important role in any republic so we will examine how public opinion is measured and how it contributes to the democratic process.

The citizens of United States enjoy many freedoms and liberties, but, as in all republics, they also live according to a Constitution and an established set of laws. We will examine the balance between freedom and law, and discuss the development of civil liberties. The political participation of Americans, both as individuals and as a part of interest groups influences nearly all functions of the government. We will also take a look at the media's increasingly important role in politics, and how the political parties of the United States work together to create legislation.

The social welfare and safety of Americans is a significant part of the priorities of the federal government. This course will outline the development of important programs that have served as model to other governments throughout the world. In the process, we will also evaluate how public policy is made from several important perspectives: economic, foreign relations, and environmental. 

Written with the belief that understanding the foundations of the America system of government is necessary to fully comprehend America's current political system, this self-paced course is appropriate for learners of any age (homeschoolers, high schoolers, college students or just inquisitive people). Our easy-to-understand online format is perfect for those seeking review, extra tutoring, test prep or general educational enhancement.

Learn How the American Government Works"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -- Thomas Jefferson

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." -- Abraham Lincoln

"The government is us, we are the government, you and I." --Theodore Roosevelt

"It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, 'We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.' This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government, or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves." -- Ronald Reagan (October 27, 1964).

"Today we can declare: Government is not the problem, and government is not the solution. We, the American people, we are the solution." -- Bill Clinton

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Instructor Feedback
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

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Course Lessons

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Lesson 1. Introduction to American Government

The lesson will include why, when, and how the American Government came about. 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Review Article: Declaration of Independence
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2. The Constitution

This lesson will cover the framework of the Constitution, the structure, and what the Constitution does for the individual. 115 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3. The Legislative Branch

This lesson will cover the structure of the legislative branch. Topics will focus on the organization of the House of Representatives and the Senate. 75 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Review Article: The Legislative Branches Power
  • Complete Assignment: Is the Legislative Branch the Most Powerful Agent of Government?
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: Senate
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: House of Representatives

Lesson 4. The Judiciary Branch

The organization of the federal courts and the state courts 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Review Article: Federal Courts
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment: Judiciary Branch

Lesson 5. The Executive Branch

This lesson will focus on the Executive Branch of the Government highlighting the powers and duties of the president and of the extensive executive departments. 135 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Review 5 Articles: Executive Branch; Presidential Clips; The President's Cabinet; The White House; Presidents
  • Complete Assignment: Is the President an Elected King?
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6. American Political Culture

The November 2008, presidential elections in the United States offered the clearest demonstration of the current American political culture. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Political Culture of the US; Separation of Church and State
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7. Public Opinion

There are several types of democracies and while the U.S. certainly incorporates many democratic ideas into its government, our nation is best described as a republic. 60 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Different Systems of Democracy; Types of Government; Example of Public Opinion and the Presidency
  • Complete Assignment: Public Opinion and the Presidency
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8. Elections and Campaigns

Public opinion polls may influence policy and steer our elected officials on a desired path of results, but the single most important element of the democratic process is the campaign and election process. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Campaigns and Social Media; Election Process; Political Campaigns
  • Take Poll: Elections
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9. Interest Groups

An interest group is a collection of people who share similar beliefs and endeavor to educate the general public about an issue. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Interest Groups; Types of Interest Groups
  • Take Poll: Interest Groups
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10. Civil Liberties

The freedoms extended to individuals, which are commonly referred to as civil liberties or civil rights, have changed and evolved throughout our history, and they continue to change on an almost daily basis. 60 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Civil Rights vs. Civil Liberties; Security vs. Civil Liberties; The ACLU
  • Complete Assignment: Are Civil Liberties all inclusive?
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11. Political Participation

Throughout its entire history, the United States has been home to some of the most politically active peoples of the world 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: PACs; Youth and Political Participation
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Exam

Lesson 12. Political Parties

A political party is an organization dedicated to the advancement of a specific political platform, or a set of beliefs on a wide range of issues. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Conservative vs. Liberal; The Democratic Party; The Republican Party
  • Take Poll: Political Party
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Exam

Lesson 13. The Media

The media, which is today comprised of television, radio, newspapers, the Internet, and countless other sources of information, has played a vital role in American government since the country's founding. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Review Article: 5 Ways Media are Changing Politics
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Exam

Lesson 14. Social Welfare

There are a variety of social welfare programs in the United States today, economic programs, health-related services, housing development programs, and many others. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Medicare; Social Security; Social Welfare
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Exam

Lesson 15. The Policy Making Process

In this lesson, we will examine the full process of policy making, from a law's origination to the required presidential signature. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 15 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Bills and Congress; Current Legislation; How a Bill Becomes Law
  • Complete: Lesson 15 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 15 Exam

Lesson 16. U.S. Economic Policy

The economic policies of the United States are driven and influenced by a wide variety of factors: laws, the Constitution, lobbyists, the global economic climate, and, ultimately, the will of the people. 33 Total Points
  • Lesson 16 Video
  • Review 3 Articles: Discretionary Spending; Federal Budget; US Budget
  • Complete: Lesson 16 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 16 Exam

Lesson 17. U.S. Foreign Policy

The all-encompassing goal of U.S. Foreign Policy is to ensure the safety of American citizens and the international community. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 17 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Foreign Policy; US Non-Interventionism
  • Complete: Lesson 17 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 17 Exam

Lesson 18. U.S. Environmental Policy

In addition to enacting laws that protect Americans' safety, environmental policy must be future-focused to assure that future generations will benefit from today's decisions. 95 Total Points
  • Lesson 18 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Global Warming Policies; NEPA
  • Take Poll: What is your opinion of this course?
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete: Lesson 18 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 18 Exam
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: American Government
Course Number: 7550446
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: General Education
CEU Value: 1.6 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: C. Michael McKenna
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Review: Read Editorial Review
Course Fee: $70.00 (no CEU Certification) || with CEU Certification: $95.00

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Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Know the major points of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.
  • Identify and describe the role and responsibilities of the Legislative Branch, the Judiciary Branch, and the Executive Branch.
  • Know the power of public opinion and the affects of mass media on politics.
  • Identify and describe the major political parties and interest groups, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Student Testimonials

  • "Clearly written text." -- Christine Y.
  • "Course is great!" -- Marcus M.
  • "There was a good mixture of historical background and how things work in the present day. This gave me an understanding of the basis of government without being confused as to how it translated into modern-day. " -- Rebekah H.
  • "This was fantastic! Very user friendly and informative. Just fantastic thanks! Terrific job, I look forward to taking more classes!" -- Madison T.

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