Undergraduate Education

Eagleton helps Rutgers University undergraduate students link the study of politics with its day-to-day practice. Students learn about how American politics and government work and change and build practical skills for political engagement.

About Eagleton Undergraduate Education Programs

Eagleton offers a variety of programs for Rutgers undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about the day-to-day practice of politics. From curricular programs, to research opportunities, internships, and leadership training—there are many ways undergraduate students can get involved.

Eagleton Undergraduate Associates Program

Apply for Class of 2021 online starting in September 2019

Eagleton Undergraduate Associates learn about real-world politics and government from experienced practitioners and faculty. Rutgers University juniors from any school or major are eligible to apply for this selective three-semester certificate program.

Courses taught at Eagleton

Fall 2019 Undergraduate Course Schedule:

Introduction to Poli Sci Methods – Mondays/Thursdays 10:55 AM-12:15 PM
Instructor: Ashley Koning
Course number: 01:790:300:04‐12720
This class is designed to provide fundamental quantitative reasoning and applied research skills. After taking this course, students will both understand and know how to conduct basic research in political science using survey, experimental, and other empirical data. Moreover, students will comprehend the basic building blocks of political science inquiry, and know how to do a literature review, to formulate and test a research hypothesis of their own, and to perform data analysis using a widely known statistics program.

Lastly, students become more “employable” as a by-product of taking this course. Understanding data collection methods and being able to conduct basic data analysis using SPSS are skills that translate readily to work conducted in the “real world.” Jobs in politics, marketing, public relations, business, etc. often require analytical skills like the ones taught in this course. In addition to preparing students for jobs, this class also provides the skills and research experience necessary to take more advanced quantitative reasoning courses, to conduct further research, or apply to graduate school.

Introduction to Political Science Methods is central to the appreciation and critique of political science research conducted in American Politics (public opinion, race and politics, political psychology, voting behavior, elections, institutions, gender, etc). The skills acquired easily extend to research in Comparative Politics, International Relations, and other political science subfields.

Youth Political Participation Internship – Tuesdays 9:15 AM-12:15 PM
Instructor: Elizabeth C. Matto
Course number: 01:790:481:08‐05122

The Center for Youth Political Participation at the Eagleton Institute of Politics addresses the progression of youth political participation through three stages of citizen development: as high school students prepare to participate in the electoral process for the first time; as college students begin to exercise their political rights; and as young adults actively seek to influence public policy, support electoral candidates and perhaps run for public office themselves. During the fall semester, CYYP interns work on implementing the goals of RU Voting, a non-partisan project designed to engage the Rutgers student body in national, state, and local elections. Interns’ work in this area involves organizing and administering various registration, education, and mobilization initiatives including registration and get-out-the-vote drives; public forums; debate watches; and focus groups of Rutgers students.

In this internship, students will gain an understanding of the intricacies of voter registration and mobilization processes and their relationship to youth engagement; employ the practical tactics of organizing and administering voter engagement efforts; analyze campaign-related content through the lens of youth engagement; collaborate with fellow students on practical and research-related efforts; gain confidence in their leadership and problem-solving abilities; and better appreciate their role in their community.

Talking Politics: Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable – Tuesdays, 12:35-1:55 PM
Instructors: Elizabeth C. Matto and Randi Chmielewski
Course number: 01:090:101:60‐07290
This course is premised on the notion that, in order for democracy to work, citizens need to be able to talk to each other. Addressing public policy challenges requires reasoned deliberation, critical thinking, and open and civil discourse—the exchange of ideas from different perspectives based on shared facts and conducted with respect and curiosity. This seminar considers why engaging in honest but civil political discussion is integral to American democracy’s success and explores productive ways to go about it. Students will observe and analyze a range of political exchanges and will be given opportunities to interact with political practitioners and practice the skills of political discussion.

Introduction to Critical Intelligence Studies – Tuesdays/Thursdays, 2:15-3:35 PM
Instructors: John Farmer and Ava Majlesi
Course number: 01:790:292:01‐13685
This foundational course is designed to provide students with the context and concepts that form the basis for the intelligence-gathering in which the United States government engages. Beginning with an examination of the role of intelligence-gathering in world history, the course proceeds to examine critically the role of intelligence in the American republican democracy. After reviewing the evolution of the structure of the intelligence-gathering community, the course examines the concepts and practices used to identify, collect, interpret, analyze, and communicate intelligence that can be used by strategists, policy makers, military, security, and the police to advance homeland security.

The course will concentrate on the components of the federal government’s Intelligence Community, but will also highlight the application of intelligence in the domestic setting to protect public safety. Intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities related to criminal justice, public safety, and private sector entities will also be addressed to support criminal investigations, homeland security initiatives, critical infrastructure protection planning, and policy formulation.

American structure and practice will be evaluated in light of the structure and practices of nations such as Israel, Russia, India, China, and Spain. Based on a case study approach, students in this course will develop a full understanding of the application of intelligence in a domestic setting, while understanding the ethical, Constitutional, and civil liberties implications of intelligence-gathering.

Political Campaigning – Tuesdays, 5:35-8:35 PM
Instructors: Kristoffer Shields, Michael DuHaime, and Maggie Moran
Course number: 01:790:301:01-00361
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the role of political campaigns in the American political system. This semester, the class will primarily use the presidential primaries, 2019 state and local races and other recent New Jersey races as case studies for examining the techniques, tactics, events, and media involved in elections. We will spend a good deal of class time listening to presentations from candidates, consultants, pollsters, journalists, lobbyists, and elected officials who will provide a real-world perspective on political campaigning. We will also read and discuss works that take a more critical approach to analyzing campaigns along with those that provide background on key players and the dynamics of the political scene.

Students will be expected to make use of a number of information sources as they develop their understanding of the campaigning process. These will include: 1) class discussions, 2) required readings, 3) special guest presentations, 4) campaign materials, such as brochures, ads, and candidate websites, 5) scholarly research, and 6) media coverage.

The American Governor: Dealing with Disaster – Wednesdays, 10:55 AM-12:15 PM
Instructor: Kristoffer Shields
Course number: 01:090:101:84‐09081
As the chief executives of their states, governors shape policy, set the state agenda, and act as their state’s representatives in the public eye. Put simply, the governor is usually the most important and powerful person in the state during his or her term(s) in office. No wonder, as we look ahead to 2020, that governors and former governors will once again be on the short lists of potential candidates. Of all the tests a governor can face, however, perhaps none is as important—and difficult—as dealing with the after-effects of a natural disaster. Hurricanes, fires, and floods can be unpredictable, but the importance of a governor’s performance in the aftermath of such an event is certain.

This course will begin with a quick look at the office of the governor in general: What is a governor? How do gubernatorial powers differ from state to state? And what role does the governor play in the U.S. federal system? We will then move on to look at this central example of a governor’s power and responsibility: shepherding his or her state through the trauma of a natural disaster. We will use a series of three case studies to research and examine a governor’s range of options in such a challenge, culminating with a long look at our own state’s experience following Super Storm Sandy. We will hear from the people who were involved in the recovery efforts, analyze the political and real-life effects of their decisions, and research what works and what doesn’t when a governor is forced to become the “consoler-in-chief.”

Women and American Politics – Wednesdays, 12:35-3:35 PM
Instructor: Kira Sanbonmatsu
Course number: 01:790:335:01:13712
We will analyze the participation of women in American political life; examine women’s public roles and the effects of feminism in altering women’s public roles in both historical and contemporary contexts; delve into women’s participation in electoral politics; study women’s behavior and influence as public officials; and analyze the intersection of gender with other categories such as race/ethnicity and political party. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze the historic 2018 midterm election, study the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, and examine the relationship between gender and policymaking.

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of gender and U.S. politics including the central questions, concepts, and debates in the field. Students will develop a theoretical framework and analytic tools for studying gender and politics. The course is also intended to teach students about the research process and to strengthen students’ analytic, critical thinking, written, and oral communication skills.

Undergraduate Associate Internship – Wednesdays, 5:35-8:35 PM
Instructor: Francine Newsome Pfeiffer
Course number: 01:790:481:05‐04234
This seminar is designed to complement Undergraduate Associate internship field placements in government and politics with readings, discussions, guest speakers, and papers to foster a deeper understanding of both the institutions and the individuals that shape public policymaking. In addition to learning about a variety of careers in the political realm, the class will examine organizational dynamics and the elements of leadership which impact the workplace. As a group seminar, students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, offering perspectives drawn from their internships, readings, and guest speakers to shed light on the knowledge and skills needed to succeed, and lead, in a variety of positions and institutions. Students will also have many opportunities to hone their communication and career development skills during the course.

Darien Civic Engagement Project – Thursdays, 10:55 AM-12:15 PM
Instructor: Elizabeth C. Matto
Course number: 01:790:250:01‐08339
RU Voting is a nonpartisan effort administered by the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Its mission is to prepare and encourage Rutgers students to pay attention to politics, register to vote, and turn out on Election Day. The objective of Topics in Political Science: Citizenship & Civic Engagement and the Darien Civic Engagement Project (DCEP) is to link how we think about American politics with the practicalities of politics by focusing attention and effort on youth political participation via RU Voting. As such, it offers an opportunity to gain a rich understanding of the realities of youth political action and its connection to the theoretical underpinnings of American democracy.

More Ways to Study Politics

Aresty Research Assistant Program
Eagleton faculty regularly work with undergraduate students through the Rutgers University Aresty Research Assistant Program.

Attend an Event
The Eagleton Institute presents an annual event series designed to promote civil discourse that celebrates democracy, respects politics, and encourages civic engagement.

Darien Civic Engagement Project
Undergraduate students earn Political Science course credits and gain practical experience in civic education as well as voter registration, education, and mobilization.

First Year Interest Groups (FIGS)
First Year Interest Group seminars are available in a wide variety of topic areas to incoming Rutgers students. Peer Instructors: to schedule an information session with Eagleton faculty and staff, contact Sarah Kozak at

NEW Leadership®
NEW Leadership® is CAWP’s national initiative to educate and empower the next generation of women leaders. NEW Leadership® teaches college women the value of civic engagement and encourages them to see themselves as empowered leaders who can effectively participate in politics and public policy.

Ready to Run®
Ready to Run® is a national network of non-partisan campaign training programs committed to electing more women to public office. Rutgers students can apply for a scholarship to attend.

RU Ready
A civic engagement initiative, Rutgers undergraduates work with local high school students to build civic, political, and expressive skills needed to address public problems in their communities.

RU Voting
A non-partisan effort, RU Voting encourages Rutgers students to pay attention to politics, register to vote, and turn out on Election Day.

RU Running
A training program for politically interested college students considering running for public office or interested in working on a campaign.

Rutgers-Eagleton Washington Internship Award Program
The Rutgers-Eagleton Washington Internship Award Program provides one-time grants of up to $5,000 to outstanding Rutgers undergraduate students for summer internships in government/public service in Washington, D.C. The monetary award is meant to ease the financial burden of working in Washington D.C. and is intended to offset living expenses.

Young Elected Leaders Project
Launched in 2002 with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP) studies and works with young people who run for public office.