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, and progress and success are measured not in individuals, but rather with respect to an entire community, city, state, or nation. 

Students who choose this major are interested in wrestling with questions related to helping everyone gain equality and access resources that promote health, education, safety, security, and justice. Social justice majors also are committed to diversity as a value that is just as important to promote as equality. 

Why Study at Iowa

The UI Department of Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies offers the only undergraduate major in social justice at a public university in the state of Iowa.

Course Work

This program provides rich field experiences that connect knowledge and theory to practice and builds communication skills including writing, speaking, digital literacy, collaboration, and teamwork. 

Students gain a broad understanding of how ethics, philosophy, human rights, and history intersect with power, diversity, and broad social issues in the fields of health, environmental studies, ethnic and cultural studies, political science, and gender and women's studies. 

Work for the major consists of the undergraduate foundation, core courses, an emphasis area, and a capstone experience. 

Students choose one of the following emphasis areas or they may work with the social justice adviser to create an individualized emphasis area:

  • Ethnic and cultural studies in the United States
  • Environmental issues
  • Health
  • Human Rights
  • International history, theory, and action
  • Politics and social justice
  • The arts and social practice

In addition to courses required for this major, students also must complete the general education requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Core Program. 

Review Social Justice in the UI General Catalog to learn more about course requirements and graduating with honors. 

Minor in Social Justice

Review Social Justice in the UI General Catalog for information about earning a minor. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested 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 more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


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

The social justice major prepares students for careers in diverse fields. Graduates typically work in nonprofit or government sectors, international organizations, think tanks, research and policy institutes, foundations, religious and cultural institutions, education, or health care. Their positions may focus on areas such as aging, criminal justice, children and family, human rights, labor, race and ethnicity, disability, and poverty.

Students in this major are well prepared to continue their studies in a wide range of graduate programs or professional schools.  


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs


Social Justice (BA)
Social Justice
Areas of Emphasis
Seven emphasis areas are offered. See Course Work.
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan