Are you interested in American politics? International affairs? Critical issues such as health, the environment, civil rights? Theories concerning the ideal government and how power and resources are allocated in society? If so, consider studying political science.
Political science students gain a versatile set of skills that can be applied in a wide range of careers in federal, state and local governments and also in law, business, international organizations, nonprofit associations, campaign management, polling, journalism, education, and research.
More importantly, a political science degree provides general skills that employers in every field value: critical reading, information gathering and analysis, oral and written communication. It also is excellent preparation for pursuing an advanced degree. Because of the importance of policymaking and regulation in so many fields, political science complements advanced training in law, engineering, planning, journalism, science, public health, and other professions.
Why Study at Iowa?
Iowa's political science program is ranked among the best in the country by U.S.News & World Report. As a political science student, you'll acquire a firm grounding in American politics and in political thought and action, and you'll have the opportunity to learn about international aspects of politics. You'll be able to choose from the department's wide selection of optional emphasis areas, and you'll benefit from its focus on honors and research, including opportunities for undergraduates to work directly with faculty members.
Department of Political Science faculty members are well known for their scholarship. You’ll see your professors on panels or as commentators for local and national media, and you'll read their remarks in newspapers and other publications.
Because of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, you’ll have a front-row seat to the American presidential election process, with unprecedented access to candidates, who make frequent stops on campus and in Iowa City. You’ll also have opportunities to work on local, state, and national campaigns; conduct exit polls; or help produced the nationally recognized "Hawkeye Poll."
Students majoring in political science earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. BA and BS students take a wide variety of political science courses. BS students include a focus on research, with additional courses in math and statistics.
Whether you earn a BA or a BS, you'll take these courses:
- Introduction to American Politics
- Four courses on topics such as political action, behavior, communication, and thought; international relations; comparative politics; and politics of specific world regions
- Six or more advanced political sciences courses, which may include work in an emphasis area
If you're a BS student, your advanced political science courses will include at least two courses on research, and you'll have the opportunity to do a senior research project and paper. In addition, you'll take three mathematics and statistics courses as a foundation for your research skills.
When you select your advanced political science courses, you might use some of them to complete one or two of the department's emphasis areas, which will be noted on your transcript. Emphasis areas include:
- American institutions
- American political practice
- Identity politics
- International relations
- Law and politics
- Political communication
- Political economy
- Political processes
- Political theory
- Politics of democratization
- Politics of developing areas
- Politics of industrial democracies
If you are interested in teaching, consult with your academic adviser to prepare to apply to the College of Education's Teacher Education Program.
Minor in Political Science
Political science majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
Student groups at Iowa represent a wide range of political perspectives, such as College Republicans, University Democrats, UI Libertarians, and the Iowa International Socialist Organization.
Internships in political science are readily available. Students are encouraged to serve as interns, especially in government-related internships. The department provides financial support for students to participate in our Des Moines Internship Program (DMIP) each semester.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
The department is housed in Schaeffer Hall, which contains an ITC computer center providing access to InfoHawk, the University of Iowa Libraries’ electronic catalog; ISIS, the university’s online student information services portal; and Dasher, which offers foreign language practice drills.
The Comparative Legislative Research Center, housed in the department, publishes Legislative Studies Quarterly, the official journal of the legislative studies section of the American Political Science Association.
Faculty members in this department are renowned experts whose investigations lead to important findings shared through prolific publication in scholarly journals, books, and other outlets. They serve on professional boards of national and international significance. As a group, the political science faculty is among the most highly ranked in the university. They are noted for their research collaborations with each other, with the members of the department’s doctoral program, and with undergraduate students.
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.
A recent surveyed showed that graduates with political science degrees have higher average salaries than graduates in all other social sciences excluding economics, and Iowa’s political science department organizes career workshops for its students throughout the year. The workshops are led by former political science students who have achieved distinction in business, law, campaign operations, local government, elected office, or other fields.
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.