• Overview
  • Faculty
  • Requirements
  • Advising
  • Career Tracks
  • Off-Campus Study
  • Unique Opportunities

Politics and Government


Ripon College offers a major and minor in politics and government. The curriculum inducts students into the timeless debates of politics while also ensuring that they are conversant with the actual functioning of the political systems of the United States and countries around the world.

What do we study in the politics and government department? We study all aspects of political life, ranging from how nations deal with each other in crisis situations to how the daily decisions made by legislators affect ordinary people in their everyday lives. The study of politics has many dimensions, and in our department we try to give you the tools you will need to understand and analyze all aspects of political life.

Through our politics and government major, we seek to give students the tools they need to keep up with the constantly changing world of politics. We start the program by introducing students to the major questions of politics and the various answers proposed by the most significant thinkers in the history of western political thought. We then introduce students to the study of international relations, comparative politics and American government; at the same time, giving them hands-on instruction in data analysis so that they begin to “do,” and not just study, political science.

Graduates attain jobs in the governmental, business and legal fields.

Program Spotlight


Ed Wingenbach

Vice President, Dean of Faculty, Professor of Politics and Government

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Henrik Schatzinger

Associate Professor of Politics and Government, Chair of Politics and Government Department

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Lamont Colucci

Associate Professor of Politics and Government

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Margaret Carne

Special Assistant to the President, Liaison to the Board of Trustees

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Michael Mahoney

Michael Mahoney

Associate Professor of Global Studies

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Zach Messitte

Zach Messitte

President, Professor of Politics and Government

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Requirements for a major in politics and government: POL 110, 220; one of the following: POL 111, 112 or 280; four elective courses (up to two of the electives may be pre-approved courses in other departments or in off-campus programs such as the Washington Semester program; POL 501 and 502.

Requirements for a minor in politics and government: POL 110 and 220; 12 additional credits of which 4 credits must be 300-level or higher. Students considering American Government and Politics for graduate school also should take a social sciences statistics course. Students considering a career in international relations should take POL 280. Requirements for a teaching major in politics and government: POL 110, 220, 280, 231 or 324, 335, 381, 501-502; and HIS 401.

Requirements for a teaching minor in politics and government: POL 110, 220, 280, 335 or 341; HIS 401; and other courses agreed upon by student and advisor to total 22 hours, excluding HIS 401


Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. Staff in the Office of Constituent Engagement and Career Services help to match your interests to concrete goals and construct a plan for success, offering support through three stages of career development – planning, exploration and search. Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Mentors in the Collaborative Learning Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon.

Career Tracks

Majoring in politics and government can lead to careers in a wide variety of fields, from international relations to law, business and, of course, government and politics.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in international affairs, law, national security, public administration, political science, business and communication; and careers as political advisers, marketing directors, analysts, lawyers and television producers.

Recent graduates of our program work for:

  • America Votes
  • American Heart Association
  • Boelter & Lincoln Advertising
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.
  • Illinois Republican Organization
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Michael Fitzpatrick Law Office
  • National Forensic League
  • Organizing for America
  • Piper & Schmidt
  • Project Vote Smart
  • State of Minnesota
  • State representatives
  • State senators
  • Target Corporation
  • The Institute of World Politics
  • Wisconsin Historical Society

Job titles of recent graduates include:

  • Youth market coordinator
  • Director of marketing
  • E-Commerce strategist
  • Pricing analyst
  • Campaign staff member
  • Grants & development coordinator
  • National director
  • Attorney
  • Political research
  • Development associate for major & planned giving
  • Legislative analyst
  • Chief of staff
  • Policy adviser
  • U.S. sales manager
  • Television producer
  • Branch operations assistant

Off-Campus Study

Whether you choose a program that is international or domestic, it is an experience bound to change your view of the world. Click here to learn more about Off- Campus Study at Ripon College.

Unique Opportunities

Unique Emphasis on Methodology

The courses of the politics and government department are geared toward providing a solid foundation for the understanding, analysis and evaluation of contemporary political issues. We strongly stress research and writing throughout our curriculum, and we are unique in the emphasis we give to integrating the study of methodology (how information about politics is gathered and analyzed) with the study of specific areas of politics.

We require the study of both American and non-American political systems, with the aim of preparing students to be citizens in an increasingly global society. While many of our majors go on to further study in political science or law, many others begin careers in business, journalism or public service directly after graduation.