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 an 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 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.

The department offers a 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."

Admission Requirements

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


Political Science
Political Science
Online Political Science
Political Science
Areas of Emphasis
American Institutions
Identity Politics
International Relations
Political Behavior
Political Communication
Political Theory
Politics of Foreign Countries
Public Policy
  Teaching Licensure
in Social Science
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 93 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

A recent survey showed that graduates with political science degrees have higher average salaries than graduates in all other social sciences excluding economics. 

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.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad programs and multiple 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 unpaid internship experiences. 


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

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

Political Science at Iowa: Andrea

A degree in political science or international relations from the University of Iowa is your start to an enjoyable and rewarding career that makes a difference in people’s lives.

The Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa is a leader in the discipline, in the state of Iowa, and within the university community. Its faculty include distinguished scholars in all the main fields of Political Science, and its course offerings are correspondingly broad. Whether the topic is Iowa politics, the U.S. government, the governments of myriad foreign countries, or the international system, you'll have access to acknowledged experts in their field.

Andrea talks more about what it's like to study Political Science at the University of Iowa.

Political Science at Iowa: Zach

A hallmark of the department is its tradition of collaboration between faculty and students. You'll students enjoy countless opportunities to learn by doing. New classroom technologies are enhancing the possibilities for collaboration. With the department housed in Schaeffer Hall on the Pentacrest, Political Science students and faculty enjoy classrooms with up-to-date audio and video technology, access to the STF Collaboratory, and a variety of other resources that enhance learning.

Zach talks more about what it's like to study Political Science at the University of Iowa.


Students majoring in political science earn a BA or BS degree. The BA degree with a major in political science offers an option for an on-campus or an online program of study. 

Most of the political science course work required for the major is the same for BS and BA students, but the major for the BS includes a political science research component. The major for the BS also requires a set of mathematics and statistics courses as a foundation for research skills, while the major for the BA does not.

Students in both programs must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

All majors 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
  • Seven or more advanced political sciences courses, which may include work in an emphasis area

Students may elect to complete one or two emphases while fulfilling the requirements for the major. Each emphasis consists of four courses. The emphasis is indicated on the transcript at graduation if a student completes the emphasis and requests recognition from the department.

Online BA Major

The Department of Political Science offers an online BA major. The online program enables 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 in the online BA program also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

Visit the Political Science Department website or see Political Science in the UI General Catalog to learn more about required course work for the major or minor 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.