Undergraduate Admissions - The University of Iowa

The University of Iowa

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Ethics & Public Policy


Ethics & Public Policy (BA)
Areas of Specialization
Political Science
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan

Iowa’s major in ethics and public policy looks at the complex connections between economics, law, philosophy, political science, and sociology, disciplines that are concerned with questions about how people should behave and how we should regulate the behavior of others.

For example, most people agree that what a society should do depends in part on the actual or potential consequences of its actions. These consequences are complex. They affect our economic lives, social and legal issues and policies, and even our ideals and values.

Ethics and public policy emphasizes the study of reasoning and prepares students to bring a sophisticated, cross-disciplinary perspective to diverse fields such as government, urban and regional planning, social work, and business. Given the structure of the major, it is particularly easy to pair it with a second major in one of the fields of specialization--economics, philosophy, political science, or sociology, or another related discipline.

This major provides an ideal foundation for law school. It brings to legal studies an important background in fields that will explicitly and implicitly arise in the context of pursuing a law degree.

Why Study at Iowa? 

By drawing on the faculty expertise in other University of Iowa programs (in philosophy, economics, law, political science, and sociology), this program provides the kind of educational experience you'll find only at a major university like Iowa.

In addition, if you are considering a graduate degree, the study of reasoning (an important component of this major) will help prepare you to take the exams required for admission to graduate school.

The ethics and public policy major at Iowa also offers the flexibility to allow you to combine this degree with a second major to enhance your post-graduation career options.

Course Work 

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in ethics and public policy requires eight foundation courses in the areas of philosophical reasoning, philosophical theory, political science, economics, sociology, and law.

Students also are required to take four courses in one of these areas of specialization:

  • Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • A student-designed field*

* Students may work with an academic adviser to design their specialization field. The field must include courses from within the ethics and public policy curriculum.

See Ethics and Public Policy in the General Catalog to learn more about the required course work, degree requirements, and graduating with honors.

Admission Requirements

Students in this major must meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.



Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities 

In addition to having nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Students in this major may be interested in joining the LEX: Legal Exploration Living-Learning Community in the residence halls.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

This major is an ideal background for law school. It brings to legal studies an important background in fields that will both explicitly and implicitly arise in the context of pursuing a J.D. The study of reasoning that is an important component of the major is also useful in preparing for LSAT’s, GMAT’s and MCAT’s. The major is an excellent preparation for students interested in bringing an important and sophisticated cross-disciplinary perspective to such diverse fields (among others) as government, urban and regional planning, social work, and business.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Application Process Tabs