UIS Political Science Master’s Degree Graduate Joe Darter

What made you choose to pursue a Master’s Degree in Political Science?
I have always been interested in politics and government.  My family comes from a small town (Lincoln, Illinois) and my great-grandfather was mayor of Lincoln during the 1950s and served as an alderman for 28 years as well.  My mother and grandmother were precinct committee chairs in Lincoln so politics was talked about quite a bit.  Some of my fondest memories are walking door-to-door as a child and placing door hangers on every door during election season.  Now that I work for the City of Bloomington, obtaining my Master’s Degree was my top priority.  In order to further my career, I felt that a Master’s Degree was needed to set me apart from my fellow coworkers.


Why did you choose the Online Political Science Master’s Degree Program UIS?

Joe Darter at the 2016 UIS commencement ceremony.
Joe Darter at the 2016 UIS commencement ceremony.

I chose the Online Political Science Master’s Degree Program at UIS because I loved the education that I received from UIS when I was working on my BA in Political Science.  I loved the Political Science faculty and I never even applied for any other schools.  I live in East Peoria, Illinois and work in Bloomington, so the online program fit my busy schedule beautifully.  Had UIS not had an online program, I would have done the on-campus program but the online program was a lifesaver.  The online program offered me the chance to study on my own time and with my hectic hours for the City of Bloomington, committing to a set class time would have been difficult.


What did you like best about the courses and faculty at UIS?
I enjoyed the challenge that the courses provided.  Some of the classes that I took were extremely challenging (Empirical Political Analysis to name one) but overall, what appealed to me is that this was not a program that required the memorization of facts and figures but instead, taught me how to think critically and to think for myself.  I felt energized and empowered which is something that I hadn’t felt in a number of years.  One of the best features is that the class sizes are small which allowed me the opportunity to get to know my professors on a personal level and I feel that they got to know me as well.  I wouldn’t have had that opportunity at a larger school.  In my opinion, this is one of best selling points of UIS.  The faculty was engaging and very knowledgeable and they made me want to learn as much as I could.  I simply cannot overstate my affection for the professors in the Political Science Department.


What did you like best about online courses?
I enjoyed the ability to work from home.  I travel a lot for work so any time I get to spend at home is welcomed.


Can you tell us about your thesis?
My thesis paper was called “From the Cradle to the Grave: Capitalist Intrusion into Deathcare”.  I explored the logic of capitalism and how it relates to human dignity within the death and dying industry by expanding on the works of Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant and many other political philosophers.  Doing it online seemed to work really well for me.  I was fortunate enough to have a thesis committee chairman (Dr. Richard Gilman-Opalsky) that was very quick to reply to emails and questions.


What do you plan on doing next?
My plan is to pursue my Ph.D. in Public Administration and to become a City Manager.


What advice would you give to future students?
My advice to future students would be to “just do it.”  It is a lot of work and a fair amount of stress but it is worth it in the end.  As the workforce becomes even more competitive, anything that can set a person apart can make a big difference.  The online program requires that someone be self-motivated and organized so I would advise to concentrate on becoming self-motivated and organized.  It will pay dividends in the program.