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Iowa Presidential Caucuses is a Course

Iowa Presidential Caucuses

Ended Feb 2, 2016

Sorry! The enrollment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Date:

Jan 5 - Feb 2, 2016


4 weeks


2-4 hrs/week



Course Type:





About the Iowa Presidential Caucuses

It happens every four years. Iowa voters meet in churches, schools, even living rooms, to be part of the first-in-the-nation stop for US presidential hopefuls. The Iowa Caucuses have helped launch and end the aspirations of many candidates. This initial test in the presidential selection process will be the focus of a new massive open online course (MOOC) at Iowa State University, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses.

It's Free!

The Iowa Presidential Caucuses MOOC is open to all free of charge. There will be four four-week, self-paced sessions, beginning in September 2015 and leading up to the Iowa Caucuses in early 2016.

Credit & Participation

Students will not earn college credit, but will receive a Certificate of Participation. Students can register for the course now through January of 2016 and work at their own pace to complete the various units that will feature videos, readings, small lectures and interactive forums for discussion with other participants.



  • Understand the history of US Presidential candidate selection.
  • Become familiar with how and why the old process was transformed into primaries and caucuses.
  • Have knowledge of some of the most interesting caucuses.
  • Become knowledgeable about the importance of the media in shaping the caucuses event.
  • Become aware of the future of the US Presidential selection process and the future of the Iowa caucuses.

Course Instructors

Dr. Steffen Schmidt

Dr. Steffen Schmidt

University Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

Dr. Steffen W. Schmidt is a University Professor of political science at Iowa State University. He grew up in Colombia, South America and has studied in Switzerland and France. Dr. Schmidt obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York, in public law and government. He has published six books and over 70 articles in scholarly journals, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious teaching prizes, including the Amoco Award for Lifetime Career Achievement in Teaching and the Teacher of the Year Award.

Dr. Schmidt is co-author of the book American Government and Politics Today (Cengage) now in its 18th edition.

Dr. Schmidt is one of the most quoted political scientists on the Iowa First in the Nation Presidential Political Caucuses. He analyzes politics for Iowa Public Radio where he is known as Dr. Politics. He has covered the Iowa Caucuses for WNYC’s “It’s a Free Country” and is a frequent analyst for CNN en Español on American politics, especially regarding Presidential selection and elections. He writes political columns for Gannett media, particularly for the Des Moines Register and blogs for the Register in the “Across the Spectrum” feature.

Dr. Schmidt is Chief Political Correspondent for His blog will cover the 2016 Iowa Caucuses in depth and will be integrated into the Iowa Presidential Caucuses MOOC. Dr. Schmidt is a pioneer in the use of web-based and real-time video courses and is a founding member of the American Political Science Association’s section on Computers and Multimedia. He has developed and taught numerous online courses at Iowa State University, including a for-credit Iowa Caucuses course in 2008 with over 300 online students.