347 Schaeffer Hall
Fall 2021 Office Hours
Tue & Th: 4:45-6:15
Dept of Political Science
341 Schaeffer Hall
20 E. Washington Street
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Posted updated Prelaw FAQ for UI students
Posted Spring 2021 course evaluations
Posted a new book in What I'm Reading
Posted updates with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series papers 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11
Posted updates with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series papers 2, 3, and 4
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 1 (registration statistics)
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 10 (absentee days)
Published updated and expanded edition of Prelaw Advisor in paperback and for Kindle readers
New book, Riding the Caucus Rollercoaster 2020, published in paperback and for Kindle readers.
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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 University of Iowa has an orientation session for new transfer students. As good as this orientation may be, its generic nature means that some information important for Political Science majors isn't being passed on. Below are some items of particular interest to Political Science majors just transferring into the University.
Transferring Courses into the Political Science department
One of the first things you need to do as a transfer student is to match up the courses you took at your previous institution (community college or other university) with those here. Some of this matching is done automatically when the U has an agreement with a particular community college. This automatic matching usually occurs for General Education Requirements.
Courses that are not automatically matched up will become part of the "course pool" of electives listed on your graduation analysis form. To match these courses up with the appropriate Political Science courses you should bring a copy of the syllabus or course description for the course to the Political Science Office at 341 Schaeffer Hall. Karen Stewart, the Political Science Administrative Assistant, will take the information and begin the process of assigning the transferred courses to the appropriate courses in our department.
You may want to consider three things when requesting that transferred courses be applied to UI Political Science courses. First, you should avoid what's known as regression in your coursework. This is more likely to occur if you are transferring from a four-year institution. It occurs when you transfer in an upper-division course (e.g., 30:160) and there is a corresponding lower-division course (30:060). Some departments would prohibit you from taking the lower-division course. Political Science isn't strict about this, but it makes little sense to take an "intro" course at the UI when you've had the upper-division equivalent somewhere else. Aside from being bored in the course because you've probably had the material before, it won't do you that much good in terms of advancing your understanding of the area. You would be better off either transferring the course you had elsewhere as an intro course, or taking a different intro course here. (Of course, if you had two related courses at your other institution, such as the equivalents to our 30:060 and 30:160, then you would be able to transfer them both in.)
Second, you might not want to transfer courses for those you want to take here. For example, the main course my prelaw advisees should take is 30:116, but if a person wants to transfer a course along the lines of "Civil Liberties" or "Constitutional Law" it will likely come in as 30:116 and the person won't be able to take it here. There may not be a choice as to how a course come in, but this is something to consider if there is.
Third, and somewhat related to the second point, one needs to be aware of how the GPA is calculated. There are actually three ways the GPA is calculated for transfer students: Overall, UI, and in the major. Only the GPA in the major is affected by how transfer courses come in (that is, as electives or as specific courses in the major). If transfer courses are matched up with Political Science courses to satisfy requirements in the major, then the grades from those courses are part of the calculations for the GPA in the major. This is more important for how your courses are listed on your law school applications than for graduation from the UI. Many law school applications will look at your GPA in the major, so matching transferred courses with high grades will look better than those with low grades. On the other hand, to graduate from the UI, you need an overall GPA of 2.00, as well as at least a 2.00 in all courses taken at the UI. Similarly, for the Political Science major you need a 2.00 overall and for UI Political Science courses. (As a practical matter, this means that if you transfer in courses with less than a 2.00 GPA you will need to have more than a 2.00 in UI courses to make up for it. Of course, this shouldn't be an issue if you have realistic hopes of getting into law school!)
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.
First, we encourage our Honors students to take 30:180 in their sophomore year. This allows them to have this course before taking other honors courses in their junior and senior years. Transfer students considering Honors in Political Science should take 30:180 their first semester at the UI. Failure to do so will (usually) mean delaying 30:180 until senior year and having to take other Honors courses first.
Second, obtaining an Honors degree in Political Science requires a minimum 3.50 GPA in Political Science courses. This may be a consideration when deciding whether to match transferred courses with Political Science courses.
"To earn a degree from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, students must satisfy the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences residence requirement. This may be met by earning the final 30 consecutive semester hours in residence, or 45 of the final 60 semester hours in residence, or an overall total of 90 semester hours in residence." (UI General Catalog 2000-2002, p. 58)
Transfer students will normally meet the residence requirement in one of the first two ways (last 30, or 45 of the last 60). There are two ways in which this can become a problem. The first potential problem may arise if the transfer student wishes to study abroad after transferring to the UI. If the credits from the study abroad program are considered to be "in residence," then there will be no problem. If, on the other hand, the study abroad credits are considered transfer credits, then the student may not satisfy the last 30 credits option (if the study is during senior year), and may have difficulty meeting the 45 of the last 60 option. The solution may simply be to make sure that enough credits are taken at the UI so that the 45 of 60 option is met. Keep in mind that this might mean having to graduate with more than the minimum 124 credits.
A second potential problem may arise if the transfer student decides to transfer in additional credits after coming to the UI. This may occur for a number of reasons, but the most common is when the student takes additional credits at another university during the summer, on an internship, or while studying abroad. I've also known of a few students who came up a few credits short and decided to take their final credits elsewhere and transfer them into the UI to complete their degree. Regardless of how it happens, such late transfer credits will likely remove the last 30 credits option for meeting the in residence requirement. It's less likely that the 45 of the last 60 option will be negated, but it is certainly something to keep in mind.