Politics and International Relations

Politics and International Relations

Politics and International Relations

Why Study Politics and International Relations?

Politics stands squarely within the liberal arts. It’s the study of how communities make decisions, pursue justice, and manage conflict in order to understand how political institutions connect to human flourishing. As a politics and international relations student at Wheaton, you’ll be equipped with knowledge about politics and government, methods for analyzing political actors and institutions, and the ability to apply biblical and theological perspectives to public life. We offer a wide range of courses, events, and programs all designed to give students the analytical, conceptual, and theological tools so crucial for Christians who seek to understand and act faithfully in a rapidly changing political world.

full-time faculty

Why Study Politics or International Relations at Wheaton?

Every class integrates serious and thoughtful consideration of how the topic matters to us as Christians committed to serving our neighbors, both near and far. You’ll have the opportunity to build upon core requirements in political science and add interdisciplinary studies in economics, foreign language, and history to become equipped with the tools you need to understand and analyze world affairs, international security, development and the global economy – all with a distinctly biblical approach.

Political Science and International Relations majors are required to have a four credit hour internship that is often one of the highlights of their college career. Students have recently interned for the U.S. State Department, the International Trade Administration, Opportunity International, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, The International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, Amnesty International, the American Enterprise Institute, World Relief, World Vision, offices of state and national politicians, law practices and local advocacy organizations.

When students graduate with an IR or Political Science major from Wheaton, they are well prepared for a wide array of opportunities including careers in law, government, public affairs and international development.

Our excellent faculty, trained at top-notch graduate programs such as Harvard, Princeton, and MIT, are committed to teaching classes that expand your intellectual horizons, impart substantive knowledge about the world, and develop the sort of skills that will serve you for the rest of your life.

  • The Wheaton College Mock Trial team has graduated students to some of the top law schools in the country, including Yale University, Harvard University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Iowa, and Washington & Lee University.
  • FPE Abroad: International Study Program - This experiential learning program focuses on the interaction of political and economic policy, the effects of globalization on human flourishing, and the economic well-being of countries in the study area. Students take part in numerous site visits and hear lectures from business leaders and diplomats.
  • Wheaton in Washington offers students an inside look into the work of men and women in the nation's capital. After almost two weeks of advanced preparation on campus, you will travel to Washington to interact with people who work in a wide range of organizations in many different fields.
  • Summer Research - Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on various research projects.
  • Honors program: The purpose of the honors program is to provide outstanding students with the opportunity to carry out an independent research project during their senior year. The program involves 4 hours of independent study (PS495) supervised by a department faculty member but accountable to an honors committee.

What Will I Learn?

  • The Political Science major prepares you for graduate study in politics, government, and related fields. Graduates go on to law school, careers in government and public affairs, and work in the private and nonprofit sectors that require knowledge of government and politics.
  • The International Relations major builds from core requirements in political science and adds interdisciplinary study in economics, foreign language, and history to equip you with the tools you need to understand and analyze world affairs, international development, and international political economy.

The Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines the causes of violent conflict, models for reducing conflict and promoting reconciliation, and the means for building a just and sustainable peace. The Christian faith calls us to address such critical issues as suffering and restoration, both locally and globally.

Both the Political Science and International Relations majors offer an Honors course, by application only, doing original research.

Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.

Possible Careers for Political Science and International Relations Majors

Those who consider majoring in political science or international relations normally share a deep interest in politics and government. Usually they maintain this interest throughout their lives, even if they embark on careers that are not directly related to politics. The Center for Vocation and Career will be happy to partner with you to explore the wide variety of career possibilities available to you.

  • Business
  • Federal government
  • International affairs
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Management
  • Public and private interest groups
  • State and local government
  • Teaching

Students who major in political science or international relations may continue their studies in a wide variety of graduate programs. Recent alumni have pursued:

  • Ph.D. in American Politics
  • Ph.D. in Comparative Politics
  • Ph.D. in International Politics
  • Ph.D. in Political Theory
  • M.A. in International Affairs
  • M.A. in Political Science
  • J.D. in Law 

Recent graduate schools that have admitted our students include: 

  • Harvard University
  • John Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Yale University
I gained incredible wisdom during my internship that I know I will take with me for the rest of my life. It gave me an even deeper calling to fight injustices in our world and great confidence that Wheaton has prepared me well for the fight. — Samantha Henson '14
Alesha Guruswamy Rusk 04 Politics and International Relations alumna Wheaton College IL
Alesha Guruswamy Rusk '04
Senior Program Manager, South Asia
Following God's Call to 'Seek Justice'
"Wheaton College was for us a place which sought to develop the whole person: mind, soul and spirit. Beyond academics, we were challenged at Wheaton to integrate our faith into all that we do and we also experienced examples of true Christian community."
Wheaton College Aluma Annie Arbitter
Annie Arbitter '16
My Experience With the Refugee Crisis in Greece
"My education prepared me not only for the responsibilities of humanitarian work, but to recognize the greater kingdom work that was being carried out as well. I saw the Gospel regularly come to life in Greece since I’d been trained to look closely for how God is in the process of redeeming the broken things of this world."
Wheaton College Alumnus Galen Welsch
Galen Welsch '09
Social Entrepreneur, Founder of Jibu
Jibu: My Journey as a 'Forbes 30 Under 30' Social Entrepreneur
"Wheaton catalyzed the journey that led to Jibu’s vision and holistic approach to equip African entrepreneurs, via an eye-to-eye partnership model, to launch and own safe drinking water businesses. Consistent with what I first began learning as a Wheatie, Jibu drives holistic, people-centered development."
Wheaton Alumna Lisa Baumert
Lisa Baumert '09
NCAA All-American
How Wheaton Prepared Me for Marathon Running, Olympic Trials, and My Life
"At its most basic level, running is about taking the next step. Basic, but not easy when, as I have often found, moving forward involves coming to terms with yourself–your limitations and false assumptions, but also your unacknowledged strengths and fundamental beliefs."
Sarah Gossman Davis '11
Social Worker at Cascade Behavioral Health
How Extracurriculars can lead to a Calling
“It was during [IJM and HNGR] that I truly began to feel called to become a counselor with specific training in trauma and sexual abuse... Seven years later, I’m working with survivors of commercial sexual exploitation on a daily basis.”
Stephanie Althoff Lamphere Wheaton College Alumni
Stephanie Althoff Lamphere '11
How Wheaton Prepared Me to Practice Law
"Wheaton taught me to go into the world boldly and confidently, knowing God has called me to glorify Him in all I do. Having the security of my faith allows me to have peace each time I walk into the courtroom."