New degree builds on Drake’s reputation as the “Capital of the Iowa Caucuses”

A Democratic Presidential Debate was broadcasted on CNN,
live from Drake University on Jan. 14, 2020.

Every four years, Drake University students are at the center of presidential politics. Now they can study American politics full-time. The University’s Department of Political Science today announced the creation of a Bachelor of Arts in American politics degree to start in the Fall 2020 semester. Students may begin enrolling in the program immediately.

“Part of Drake’s mission is to integrate a liberal arts education with professional preparation, and professional political experience is so accessible here,” said Professor of Politics Rachel Paine Caufield, who heads up the new major. “During the heat of last year’s Iowa caucuses, we had multiple presidential candidates or related political events on campus every week. Our new American politics degree complements the real-world political experiences available to Drake students with classroom instruction by our renowned faculty. The integration of professional training into the curriculum represents a new approach to political science education.”

Students pursuing an American politics degree at Drake will take 33 credit hours in classroom American politics instruction and nine credits hours in advisor-approved internships, experiential learning opportunities in Washington, D.C., or short courses focusing on professional skills taught by experts in the field. The political science faculty at Drake University are recognized political experts who are go-to sources for national and international political media. Detailed information about the new degree program is available on the Drake website.

Unmatched volunteer and internship opportunities

A Republican Presidential Debate was broadcasted on ABC,
live from Drake University on Dec. 10, 2011

Drake students are not just close to politics, but active participants. Thousands of Drake students have worked in the campaign offices of presidential candidates during their time on campus. Drake hosted presidential debates in 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2020—and each time Drake students have worked behind-the-scenes for networks airing or covering the debates.

Drake alumnus JD Pelegrino assisted CBS’ “Face the Nation” when the program came to campus his senior year.

“I got to work when [Democratic presential candidate] Pete Buttigieg was on,” said Pelegrino. “We got to ask him questions through his earpiece and he would answer them on air. All the politics and journalism professors here have connections, so if you want to get into politics or even if you’re just thinking about it, you will have those opportunities available to you.”

The opportunities are not just limited to the Iowa caucuses. From 2018 to 2020, the following individuals have been on the Drake University campus for events or to meet with student groups:

  • Every Democratic presidential candidate
  • President Donald Trump
  • Vice President Michael Pence
  • U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham
  • National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien
  • U.S. Representative Cindy Axne
  • Hundreds of political journalists from around the world

Located in Iowa’s largest and capital city, Des Moines, Drake also offers students easy access to professional experiences in state and local politics.

Campus Opportunities Focused on Politics

Students regularly hold internships off campus at state governmental agencies, the Iowa legislature, or advocacy organizations, as well as on campus with the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement and Vote Smart.

The Harkin Institute is dedicated to the issues that defined former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin’s legislative career, including labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition. The Harkin Institute hires Drake students to help conduct research projects that influence local, state and national legislative policy.

Additionally, Vote Smart, the nationally known organization dedicated to providing free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials, is located at Drake and provides numerous internship opportunities to Drake students.