Social Sciences and Policy

The University of Iowa is a place where you can commit to building a path to a brighter tomorrow. That means not just preserving culture, but celebrating it. Not just caring about our fellow humans, but genuinely serving others. When you join the Hawkeye family, you’re welcomed into something larger than yourself: a strong, vibrant, open community dedicated to enriching the community around them and changing the world for the better. 

Anthropology Office of the State Archaeologist Pottery


Anthropology provides insight into our biological and cultural evolutionary background and offers a holistic view of how our economic, social, political, and religious systems relate to one another. It helps us reflect on our own social systems, on the interrelationships between individuals and societies, and on the reasons for the development of thoughts and feelings that can promote connection or conflict across social and cultural groups.

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Criminology, Law, and Justice

The criminology, law, and justice major in the Department of Sociology and Criminology examines issues related to race and ethnic diversity and gender and poverty, promoting awareness of these important topics.

Students learn sociological explanations for crime and criminal justice; the operation of law and the criminal justice system, including their complex interplay with institutions such as politics and the economy, and important data sources on crime in the United States and internationally. 

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Environmental Policy and Planning

The Environmental Policy and Planning major concentrates on the social science and policy dimensions of environmental problems, which often are caused by people and may have significant economic effects.

Environmental issues are embedded in a complex mesh of economics, politics, culture, and behavior. Planners and policy makers must understand the human dimensions of these factors in order to solve environmental problems.

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Ethics and Public Policy

Ethics and public policy looks at the complex connections between economics, law, philosophy, political science, and sociology--disciplines that deal with questions about how people should behave and how we should regulate the behavior of others. The consequences of these behaviors are complex. They affect our economic lives, social and legal issues and policies, and even our ideals and values.

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Geography is concerned with places or environments and the physical, social, economic, and political processes that change them. It is a composite science, requiring a broad base of knowledge from many related disciplines.

Geography also is an analytical science that seeks answers to specific questions from a geographic perspective. To achieve their aims, geographers develop and use advanced geospatial methods, including computer-based mapping, global positioning, and satellite sensing.

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Global Health Studies

The Global Health Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to the study of the complex factors influencing health and disease locally and around the world.

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History is the heart of a liberal arts education. The Department of History encourages students to develop an understanding of change--how it happens and why it happens the way it does--that enables them to engage our dynamic world as active and informed citizens.

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International Relations

The major in international relations focuses on economic relations between states, a crucial area of study in today's globalized world. Students are introduced to the politics of foreign countries. They develop an understanding of how countries interact and acquire a deep appreciation for the root causes of problems that transcend national boundaries.

International interactions and globalization have never been more extensive, making international relations a critical area of study and the major uniquely valuable to students with a wide array of interests.

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International Studies

Students in the International Studies Program learn that the complexity of current world conditions requires a multidisciplinary approach to international issues and global connections. They take core international studies courses to learn key concepts and practical skills, and extend their education by choosing from an array of internationally focused courses from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts.

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Law Preprofessional Program

Law is a professional degree program and is not offered as an undergraduate major. Students applying to Iowa may declare a pre-law designation on their application to receive specialized advising and preparatory course work as undergraduates. This designation means that you eventually intend to apply to a law school.

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Whatever your career goals, a major in philosophy will equip you with the ability to think logically and analytically. You’ll choose from courses that examine the development of philosophical thought and discuss the works of famed philosophers, from the early Greeks through those of modern times. Other courses apply philosophical analysis to problems in fields as diverse as art, artificial intelligence, politics, and religion.


Political Science

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.

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Psychology is the academic field that studies behavior—both human and animal. It is a broad field with many areas of specialization. At Iowa, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers course work in five areas: behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, developmental science, cognition and perception, and personality and social psychology.

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Public Health

Public health professionals use specialized skills and knowledge to better understand the underlying causes of diseases and injuries and develop strategies to prevent them. They promote healthy lifestyles, develop vaccines, ensure the safety of the food supply and new drugs, implement programs that protect workers' health, and shape policies that ensure quality health care.

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Social Justice

Social justice refers to the overall fairness of society and the manner in which it divides its rewards and burdens among groups of people.

Working with marginalized groups, social justice agents or advocates are concerned with bringing equality within society. Progress and success are measured not in individuals, but rather with respect to an entire community, city, state, or nation. 

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Social Justice and the Performing Arts

The Certificate in Social Justice and the Performing Arts is designed to expose students in any major to a combination of Theatre Arts, Dance, and Music courses across disciplines and give them opportunities to take part in and create projects.

This certificate helps students to align their discipline studies more closely with their interests and desire to be of service to their communities and peers.

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Social Work

A social work degree opens doors to jobs in mental health agencies, crisis centers, schools, child and family services, hospitals, governmental agencies, neighborhood and community centers, substance use disorder programs, correctional facilities, and so many more.

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Sociology studies principles of social psychology, stratification, and criminology in private and public organizations, small groups, neighborhoods, communities, entire societies, and worldwide.

An undergraduate degree in sociology prepares students for a wide range of careers, including social service, criminal justice, corrections, business, human resources management, applied social research, and secondary education.