Online Class: American Government

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.

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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. 

Created 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.

Course Motivation

With the adoption of the American Constitution in 1787, the basic framework of the American government was put into effect. The American government was created to ensure the protection of civil liberties of all American citizens.

The foundations of the American government are radical and unlike any of its predecessors. Seeking freedom in every sense of the word, political, economic, and religious (in particular), the American colonists had embarked from their homelands in northern Europe and on the continent of Europe to secure their liberties. Incredibly well read and versatile, the imagination and longings of these first settlers were fueled by the passionate writings of seventeenth century authors such as Milton, Neville, Locke, and the Social Contract (1762) by French Revolutionary writer Jean Jacques Rousseau, through whom they gained a greater understanding of the rights and lack of rights of citizens under monarchial rule. As the philosopher John Locke warned, a country without government would result in lawlessness and anarchy where the absolute liberty of an individual could infringe upon and destroy the freedom of another. Cognizant of the importance of having a government that would protect the civil liberties of the individual through power if necessary, the colonists were also well aware of the restrictions upon their own freedom imposed by the British crown. This balance between liberty and order has long been the focus of governments all over the world, regardless of their makeup, being a monarchy, dictatorship, democracy, republic, or other. Hence, the colonists were fully aware of the need for a government that would protect and secure their rights as individual citizens while maintaining law and order and preventing lawlessness among the colonists themselves. Yet, the government in effect under the British crown did not secure their rights but instead imposed upon them its own idiosyncrasies and treated the colonists as inferior citizens. This was more than the colonists could bear.  

Waging the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) for their own independence and freedom from the British monarchy, the colonists declared themselves a separate and unique country with the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, thereby, creating their own independent republic. War raged on and the colonists remained resolute in their determination to establish a free country. Writing up their own Constitution, revolutionary in its scope and design, these colonists most notably, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, laid the first foundations for the American government. Over the next eight years, the United States of America waged and won their war against the imperialist British monarchy. Within this time frame, these early colonists drafted one of the most significant documents in the history of humanity, the United States Constitution, a governing document unlike any of its precedents, revolutionary in its embrace of freedom. 

The government of the United States of America is defined as a federal republic of individual states, as established by the U.S. Constitution. The federal government of the United States of America consists of three branches, the executive, legislative, and the judiciary, which act individually as checks and balances upon each other, in order to secure both liberty and order for individual citizens within the Republic. Each branch has its own specific role, which is in turn, regulated by the other two branches, thus ensuring that none of the branches wields absolute power. With the Constitution as their backbone, the laws of the United States of America are specified by Acts of Congress, administrative regulations, and judicial cases, which have in turn, led to amendments and changes to the Constitution.

In this course, we will discuss in further detail the Constitution, the roles of the individual citizen, the President, Congress, and the judiciary, the elective process, public interest groups and media, as well as public and economic policies.

More than ever, it’s important for people to have an understanding of how the American political system operates.  We live in a world where knowledge is power and studies have shown that those individuals who have an in-depth understanding of such diverse fields as American government to economics to literature tend to fall into the higher income brackets.

In addition to applications in business, those who know American government can find themselves filling important roles in their local communities.  We live in a world where it’s important to understand the American government and see where it came from and how it has changed throughout the years.

Many of us have forgotten the details of how the American government works.  We learned it in high school and then promptly forgot about it.  However, this course is designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the government – learning about such things as the impact of mass media upon government, as well as how special interest groups can actually cause a policy change.

As yet another election cycle comes around, it’s perfect for you to brush up on your knowledge of the American government and apply that to your life.  While others might be reluctant to enter a conversation dealing with politics because of their lack of understanding of the subject, you’ll be able to voice your opinions in an intelligent, thoughtful, and historically correct manner – all of which will affect the way that you are viewed by those around you.

This course has been designed for those who wish to understand America’s current political system by exploring the foundation of the government.  The course is self-paced and is appropriate for all ages – whether you are a student being home schooled or you’re in college or you just want to enrich your own understanding of politics. 

Gone are the days when learning about government was dull and boring.  In this course, you will learn aspects of the American government that were never covered in your learning.  It is specifically designed to give you a broad understanding of how government works and to assist you in understanding the importance of each individual within the scope of the American government.

In this course, you’ll be exposed to the following:

·        The origins of the American government:  You’ll find out how this present government evolved from the original English colonies.

·        The structure of the Constitution:  In which you’ll see the care and understanding that the founding fathers put into this document, which has provided such an incredible foundation for today’s society.

·        How the Constitution applies to the individual:  You will understand what the Constitution means to the average citizen and learn how each of the various amendments works in our everyday lives.

·        The structure of the House of Representatives and the Senate:  Students will learn the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate, and see how both are composed. 

·        The three branches of government:  You will learn the structures of the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Executive Branch – gaining an understanding of the three branches and how they interact with each other, working with a series of “checks and balances.”

·        The role in the political process of public opinion:  Students will understand how public opinion can be used within the political process.  You will see how mass media can be used to sway public opinion and how that can then influence the various branches of the government.

·        The role of special interest groups:  You will understand what special interest groups are, what functions they serve, and how they are a part of the governmental process. 

·        Understanding political parties:  Students will understand just what it is that makes up a political party and what the role of the individual is in the workings of the entire governmental process.

·        The voting process:  Students will examine the voting process and discover how it applies to their lives.  In addition, you will see the importance of each individual having and using their vote.

·        An introduction to American economic, foreign, and public policies:  Students will see how the role of American government affects things on a global level.

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

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
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"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,735 votes)

Lesson 1. Introduction to American Government

The lesson will include why, when, and how the American Government came about. Additional lesson topics: Continental Congress 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: The Making of the Constitution 140 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video A
  • Lesson 2 Video B : Lesson 2 Discussion
  • Complete Assignment: What were they thinking about?
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Legislative Branch; Indepth Look at Legislative Branch 75 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video A
  • Lesson 3 Video B : Lesson 3 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: Senate
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: House of Representatives
  • Complete Assignment: Is the Legislative Branch the Most Powerful Agent of Government?

Lesson 4. The Judiciary Branch

The organization of the federal courts and the state courts Additional lesson topics: What it's like being a Supreme Court Justice 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video A
  • Lesson 4 Video B : Lesson 4 Discussion
  • 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. Additional lesson topics: President Bush -- More Powerful than King George?; The Executive Branch; Is the President an Elected King? 135 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video A
  • Lesson 5 Video B : Lesson 5 Discussion
  • Complete Assignment: Is the President an Elected King?
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6. American Political Culture

The November 2016, presidential elections in the United States offered the clearest demonstration of the current American political culture. Additional lesson topics: Separation of Church and State; Losing Liberty in America 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video A
  • Lesson 6 Video B : Lesson 6 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Public Opinion in America 80 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video A
  • Lesson 7 Video B : Lesson 7 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Public Opinion and the Presidency
  • Complete Assignment: Can Public Opinion be Bought?
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Election Process; Electoral College v. Popular Vote 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video A
  • Lesson 8 Video B : Lesson 8 Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Elections
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Special Interest Groups 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video A
  • Lesson 9 Video B : Lesson 9 Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Interest Groups
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Special Interest Groups
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Civil Liberties in America 60 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video A
  • Lesson 10 Video B : Lesson 10 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Are Civil Liberties all inclusive?
  • Assessment: 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 Additional lesson topics: Voter Turnout In America 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video A
  • Lesson 11 Video B : Lesson 11 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Disadvantages of PAC's
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Conservative v. Liberal in America 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video A
  • Lesson 12 Video B : Lesson 12 Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Political Party
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Social Media and American Politics 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video A
  • Lesson 13 Video B : Lesson 13 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Assessment: 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. 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video A
  • Lesson 14 Video B : Lesson 14 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Social Welfare In America
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Policy Making Process 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 15 Video A
  • Lesson 15 Video B : Lesson 15 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 15 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Are Public Policies good for all?
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: US Budget; Mandatory v. Discretionary Spending 53 Total Points
  • Lesson 16 Video A
  • Lesson 16 Video B : Lesson 16 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 16 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: FDR and American Economic Policy
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: History of American Foreign Policy 55 Total Points
  • Lesson 17 Video A
  • Lesson 17 Video B : Lesson 17 Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 17 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: President Biden's Foreign Policy in the Middle East
  • Assessment: 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. 116 Total Points
  • Lesson 18 Video A
  • Lesson 18 Video B : Lesson 18 Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: What is your opinion of this course?; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 18 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: test
  • Complete Assignment: Can any President Solve the Clean Water Issue In America?
  • Assessment: Lesson 18 Exam
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize 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.
  • Summarize the power of public opinion and the affects of mass media on politics.
  • Identify and describe the major political parties and interest groups.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: American Government
Course Number: 7550446
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (2,735 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: August 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
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
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "I thought that this course was very informative. I liked the fact that I was challenged because that means that I was learning new things about the American Government. This course was very well done. Thank you." -- Sarah M.
  • "The instructor was very knowledgeable in the class material. Helped with any questions I might have. I'm glad the class was available and I learned alot about the course material." -- Lance D.
  • "He is amazing and glad I got the opportunity to take his course. I will look for other courses offered by him." -- Anna D.
  • "Really enjoyed Mr. McKenna. His lecture were the best part of each session. I love to hear his opinion and thought provoking questions. He really draws you into the subject matter. He has broadened my horizons!" -- Carolyn G.
  • "The course instructor was always available and provided excellent feedback on all my assignments. And the lessons were always interesting." -- Steven C.
  • "The instructor was extremely helpful, prompt with responding to all completed assignments, and thought provoking with questions and comments relating to the submitted material." -- Sally K.
  • "The instructor is awesome. I get my scores back quickly and positive feedback is always included." -- Michael W.
  • "The professor is very knowledgeable in the subject." -- Gamal G.
  • "The instructor was helpful, enthusiastic, and provided quick feedback for my efforts." -- Judith J.
  • "One could not have a better instructor." -- John D.
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