Combine your passion for the environment with the power to drive change—a journey where you become a guardian of our planet. The environmental politics and policy career path can transform your environmental dedication into a career that makes a profound impact on the world.

Whether as a sustainability director, leading initiatives to make organizations and communities more eco-conscious, fostering sustainability at its core, or an environmental policy analyst, shaping regulations that safeguard our natural resources, your expertise will inform decisions that balance economic growth with environmental responsibility. This is your opportunity to become an advocate for a world where sustainability and responsible policy drive progress.

Cody Smith

Understanding the fundamental rules and regulations that shape our quality of life is a key step to creating lasting change. Political science teaches you the tools and resources available to improve the lives of others.

Cody Smith, ’18 political science

Alumni profile

  • Cody Smith

    Find out how Cody used his political science education at Iowa State to learn the tools and resources available to improve the lives of others and create lasting change.

  • Abigail Leland

    Learn how Abigail’s degree in political science supported her career aspirations by honing her critical thinking skills.


All political science majors take 1010 Exploring Political Science, two additional 1000 level courses, two 2000 level gateway courses, and six upper-level courses (3000 or higher) at least three of which are 4000 or higher. Majors also take a research methods class (2610, 2620, or 4010) and do a capstone experience (internship, study abroad, senior thesis, or graduate level political science course).

Gateway course

  • POLS 2830     Introduction to Environmental Politics and Policy

Upper-level course options for this career path

  • POLS 3050      Comparative Political Behavior
  • POLS 3350      Science, Technology, and Public Policy
  • POLS 3360X    Climate Change Policy
  • POLS 3400      Politics of Developing Areas
  • POLS 3420      Chinese Politics
  • POLS 3430      Latin American Government and Politics
  • POLS 3440      Public Policy
  • POLS 3460      European Politics
  • POLS 3560      Theories of International Politics
  • POLS 3580      United States Foreign Policy
  • POLS 3700      Religion and Politics
  • POLS 3810      International Political Economy
  • POLS 3830      Environmental Politics and Policy
  • POLS 4070      Proseminar in Public Policy
  • POLS 4080      Policy Implementation
  • POLS 4430      Energy Policy
  • POLS 4520      Comparative Foreign Policy
  • POLS 4600      American Political Institutions
  • POLS 4770      Government, Business, and Society
  • POLS 4800      Ethics and Public Policy

Frequently asked questions

Yes, but you can only double count one class.

No, they are not a graduation requirement.

Yes, if you have taken the required classes you can still get a completion letter if you are graduating Fall 2023 or later.

Yes. You can also consider taking one additional class to get a minor.

  • Take the gateway ourse for that path
  • Take at least three additional courses from the list of upper-level courses for that Path with a grade of C- or higher in each course.
  • Fill out an application showing that you have taken the necessary courses —Career Path Completion Form
  • Receive a letter of completion for the path from the Department of Political Science and list your emphasis area on your resume. We are exploring creating digital badges for LinkedIn and similar platforms.

Yes, with approval from your advisor.

One of the political science advisors: Jason ChrystalTerry Kruse, or Zack Bonner.