347 Schaeffer Hall
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Dept of Political Science
341 Schaeffer Hall
20 E. Washington Street
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Posted updated Prelaw FAQ
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The information on this page may need some updating (e.g., the old course numbers), but the basics are still good.
The UI Political Science Honors program is fairly straightforward in terms of its requirements. You can read about the program in the Guide to Undergraduate Study on the Political Science website. (Keep in mind that one can graduate with Honors in Political Science without being part of the UI Honors Program. See the UI Honors Program website for details on their program.)
The short version of the requirements for Honors in Political Science are: 1) a 3.20 overall GPA, 2) a 3.5 GPA in Political Science courses, 3) three Political Science Honors courses.
As to the three courses:
Enrollment in 30:180 is relatively limited. In past years this has meant that some Political Science Honors students couldn't get into it until their junior year. Unfortunately, this created a conflict with my Con Law course, 30:116, in that they were both offered at the same time. I recommend that prelaw students take 30:116 fall of the junior year to allow the possibility of working on my research project (which satisfies the 30:185 requirement) and my writing letters of recommendation during the application season senior year. If forced to choose, I recommend taking 30:116 junior year and delaying 30:180 until senior year.
In general, I recommend the research project over the thesis. Law schools don't usually require a lengthy writing sample, and a major class paper should suffice if they do.
You may substitute another Political Science course for 30:185 if that course has a major research component. The instructor for the substituted course will likely need to write a note for your file certifying that the course will replace 30:185, and the Honors Director may need to sign off on the switch. It may also be possible to essentially take a course with a major research component, but actually sign up under 30:185. Again, this would need to be approved by the instructor. Keep in mind that under either option the instructor will likely require something extra for the course to count as or be substituted for 30:185. For example, I teach 30:119 as a research course and often have students do a bit more work in the course to allow it to be taken as 30:185.
The two listed Honors courses are offered once or twice a year and the same course number may be repeated (assuming the topic is different). The Undergraduate Guide "encourages" students to take 300-level courses to satisfy the third course requirement. I recommend against doing so. Such courses, which are graduate courses, will likely be taught at a much higher level than undergraduate students would be prepared for (or at least the courses should be--we don't even let our own graduate students take most 300-level courses until their second year and after they have had several core 200-level courses).
Note: All Honors courses (30:180, 30:181, 30:183, 30:185, 30:186) count toward the upper division courses required for the major. In other words, the required Honors courses are not in addition to the six upper division courses (18 credits) required for the Political Science degree.
Transfer students may wish to consider pursuing an Honors degree in Political Science. In addition to the information on our Honors program in the Guide to Undergraduate Study, the following considerations may be of interest to transfer students.