Are you interested in American politics? International affairs? Critical issues such as health, the environment, or 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.

A political science degree provides important 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 study 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 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 produce the nationally recognized "Hawkeye Poll."

Course Work

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.

Online BA Major:

The Department of Political Science offers an online BA major. The online program enable students to complete a BA degree in political science from the University of Iowa's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from anywhere in the world. Online courses are taught by the same faculty teaching the on-campus courses and professional academic advising with scheduled virtual office hours is available. 

Online BA majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students must complete at least 60 semester hours of credit toward the BA degree as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program requirements. 

For more information, visit the Department of Political Science website or see Political Science in the General Catalog

Emphasis Areas:

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
  • Identity politics
  • International relations
  • Political behavior
  • Political communication
  • Political theory
  • Politics of foreign countries
  • Politics of industrial democracies

Visit the Political Science Department website or see Political Science in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.

Teaching Licensure:

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:

See Political Science in the UI General Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Political science majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

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

Student groups at Iowa such as College Republicans, University Democrats, UI Libertarians, and the Iowa International Socialist Organization represent a wide range of political perspectives.


Internships in political science are readily available. Students are encouraged to serve as interns, especially in government-related agencies. 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; the university’s online student information system 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.


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Political Science (BA)
Political Science (BS)
Online Political Science (BA)
Political Science
Areas of Emphasis
American Institutions
Identity Politics
International Relations
Political Behavior
Political Communication
Political Theory
Politics of Foreign Countries
Politics of Industrial Democracies
Teaching Licensure
in Social Science
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan