Understand the World of Global Affairs

Do you live in a democracy? Do you believe that your government protects your civil liberties and political rights? In this sought-after course, you’ll learn to think critically about the differences between democracies, semi-democracies, and authoritarian regimes. Plus, you'll explore the decline of democracies over the past few decades, using data on each country’s economic, cultural, and political science profiles. 

Program Dates

Multi-length courses available throughout the year


For students ages 13 and up



Discover Global Affairs

Discover the Major Types of Governments Around the World

Identify various types of governments using existing data and global examples. Analyze and compare democratic, semi-democratic, and authoritarian models. 

Delve Into the Rise and Fall of Democracy

Learn about the rise and fall of democracies. Understand the different forms of political transitions and how civil liberties and political rights can erode within democracies. 

Learn About Democracies in Decline

Explain the factors that lead democracies to transition to semi-democracy. Examine competitive authoritarianism and illiberal democracy concepts as they relate to political rights and civil liberties. 

Explore Liberalization Without Democratization

Describe the sources of legitimacy in dictatorships. Examine the reasons for liberalization within an authoritarian context. Highlight government repression and human rights violations under non-democratic governments.

Review How Democracy Survives

Identify the key democratic institutions and guardrails protecting democracy in various countries. Define the role of checks and balances, public opinion, and civil society in a democracy. 

Consider College Majors and Careers in Global Affairs

This course offers insights into the types of careers for those with a degree in global affairs, such as diplomatic service officer, journalist, government social researcher, public affairs consultant, and policy officer.

How You Will Benefit

  • Know the different ways in which democratic decline can occur.
  • Be able to explain the guardrails within democratic systems and how they hold up in various countries
  • Be able to discuss examples of human rights violations in countries with more authoritarian regimes.
  • Know how to compare government censorship of social media in different countries.
  • Be able to discuss the ways in which democracies survive and the political checks and balances that protect democracy.
  • Become familiar with the many careers in the field of global affairs.
  • Earn a Certificate of Completion from Rice University.

Teenage boy working on a computer

Three Learning Advantages Designed for You

Capstone Project

Using Freedom House Data, you will do a comparative project based on two countries.


  • Review the timeline from when they were similar in their level of democracy
  • Document the decline of one country and the consolidation of the other
  • Describe what happened in the country where the decline of democracy occurred
  • Explain the reasons democracy survived in the other country


You’ll receive guidance from a mentor who can support you and deepen your learning experience. You can expect:

  • Encouragement and direction on all assignments. 
  • Inspiration, motivation, and confidence to help you excel in your studies. 
  • Brainstorming and ideation to help you prepare for your capstone project.

Flexible Learning

  • 100% online learning that works with your schedule.
  • Flexible format: you’ll learn through video lectures that allow you to tune in anytime that works for you.
  • 20-30 hours of total instruction and course work, 
  • Tech-forward interactions, including engaging multimedia, real-life simulations, and curated assignments.
  • Guidance and support from mentors.

Apply Now for the Next Available Course

June 9 - June 23

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $1,495.00

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 2, 2024

June 16 - June 30

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $1,495.00

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 9, 2024

June 23 - July 7

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $1,495.00

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 16, 2024

All course options have the same educational content, learning materials, and number of assignments. We are offering a condensed version of the course in order to accommodate students’ individual schedules.

Mark Jones

Course Designed by Rice University Faculty

Mark Jones

Professor, Department of Political Science

Mark Jones is a professor in the Department of Political Science, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s Political Science Fellow, and the faculty director of the Master of Global Affairs Program, as well as the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies. Jones's research focuses on the effect of electoral laws and other political institutions on governance, representation, public policy, and voting.

Want to Know More?

Sign up for more information and we’ll be in touch.


Our application process is easy. You can expect a prompt decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will you be graded? What are assignments like? How much time do you have to turn around a project? When do you find out if you’re admitted? Find answers to your questions here.


We offer need-based scholarships in each cohort to students exhibiting high potential and an inability to pay full tuition. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship but you:

  • Haven’t applied to the program, complete your application now. The scholarship application is included.
  • Applied to the program and didn’t fill out a scholarship request, resume your application and click “Apply for Scholarship”.
  • Are unsure about whether or not you applied for a scholarship, reach out to us at support@precollege.rice.edu for assistance.