University of Iowa
#56 Overall Influence#369 Desirability Rank

University of Iowa

Public research university in Iowa City, Iowa, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Iowa was founded in late February of 1847, as one of the very first legislative acts of the new state of Iowa after it was admitted to the union at the end of December of the previous year.

Iowa City had been the old territorial capital city, and remained the capital for the first ten years of the new state’s existence. In 1857, the state capital was moved to Des Moines, but the Old Capitol Building remains one of the most prominent landmarks on the university’s main downtown campus.

In line with its original charter, the University of Iowa has no campuses elsewhere in the state (thus, it has no connection to the other two major Iowa public universities, Iowa State University, in Ames, and Northern Iowa University, in Cedar Falls).

The University of Iowa has always been a forward-looking and socially progressive institution. For example, its College of Law—established in 1865 as the first law school west of the Mississippi—was the first public institution to confer a law degree on a woman, Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson, in 1873. (This was only three years after the first woman obtained a law degree from a private school, the University of Chicago.)

Alexander G. Clark, Jr., who obtained his law degree from Iowa in 1879, is believed to be the first African American in the United States to receive that distinction (though others had passed the bar exam and practiced law earlier).

In 1870, Iowa also established the first medical school in the country that was open to both men and women.

In academics, the “Iowa School” of philosophical realism is especially noteworthy. It was founded by the Austrian-born philosopher, Gustav Bergmann, and continued by his German-born pupil, Reinhardt Grossmann (who later taught at Indiana University) and the American-born, Laird Addis.

The University of Iowa is also renowned for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, whose faculty and students have contributed a whole galaxy of distinguished names to American letters, including, among many others,:

  • Poets, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, James Tate, Louise Gluck, Robert Bly & Rita Dove
  • Short-story writers, John Cheever & Raymond Carver
  • Novelists, Nelson Algren, James Salter, Philip Roth, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Robert Coover, Jane Smiley, Francine Prose, John Irving, T. Coraghessan Boyle, & Richard Yates
  • Novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson

Other notable Iowa-connected individuals include:

  • Physicist and astronomer, James Van Allen
  • Philosopher, Herbert Feigl
  • Psychologist, Kurt Lewin
  • Novelists, Flannery O’Connor & Wallace Stegner
  • Outstanding playwright, Tennessee Williams
  • Actors, Jean Seberg, Gene Wilder, Tom Arnold & Mary Beth Hurt
  • Television journalist, Tom Brokaw
  • Founder of Rotary International, Paul P. Harris
  • Pollster, George Gallup
  • Former World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim
  • US Senator for Iowa and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles E. “Chuck” Grassley


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City IA 52242-1316

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

7 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

21 per 100k

Violent Crime

3 per 100k

What is University of Iowa known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#18 World Rank #9 USA Rank
#44 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#59 World Rank #32 USA Rank
#42 World Rank #34 USA Rank
#39 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#51 World Rank #37 USA Rank
Political Science
#69 World Rank #39 USA Rank
#67 World Rank #43 USA Rank
#122 World Rank #45 USA Rank
#128 World Rank #46 USA Rank
#97 World Rank #48 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#92 World Rank #48 USA Rank
#59 World Rank #51 USA Rank
#76 World Rank #51 USA Rank
#147 World Rank #51 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#63 World Rank #52 USA Rank
Social Work
#154 World Rank #56 USA Rank
#196 World Rank #71 USA Rank
#129 World Rank #72 USA Rank
Computer Science
#152 World Rank #75 USA Rank
#147 World Rank #76 USA Rank
#138 World Rank #79 USA Rank
#206 World Rank #114 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#145 World Rank #108 USA Rank
Criminal Justice

Influential People

Who are University of Iowa's Most influential alumni?

University of Iowa's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Literature, Communications, and Nursing. University of Iowa’s most academically influential people include Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor, and Tom Brokaw.

Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams

American playwright

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Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor

American novelist, short story writer

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Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw

American broadcast journalist

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Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan

Iranian-American author, commentator

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John Irving
John Irving

American novelist and screenwriter

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Henry Jenkins
Henry Jenkins

American media scholar

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Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura

Canadian psychologist

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Rita Dove
Rita Dove

American poet and author

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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Indian scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic

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Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros

American novelist, poet, and short story writer

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James Edward Hansen
James Edward Hansen

American physicist

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Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson

American novelist and essayist

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