Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

This is the first version of the 2024–25 General Catalog. Please check back regularly for changes. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory is a field station run cooperatively by the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. Students at all three institutions, as well as visiting students, nationally and internationally, may take Iowa Lakeside Laboratory courses for credit through their home institution.

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory was established in 1909 for the conservation and study of the rich flora and fauna of northwest Iowa, especially the numerous lakes, wetlands, and prairies of the Iowa Great Lakes region. The campus is located on approximately 140 acres of restored prairie, wetland, and gallery forest along the west shore of West Okoboji Lake. Teaching and research facilities include eight laboratory buildings, a library, and a lecture hall. Living accommodations include cottages, motel-style units, and a large mess hall. All students are encouraged to stay at Lakeside while they are taking courses to derive full advantage of its educational, professional, and social life.

Students in the field at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.


Lakeside's mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity for hands-on experience in a variety of natural and human environments through its field-oriented courses and to provide research facilities and support for graduate students and faculty members working on research projects in northwestern Iowa.

Summer Session

Each summer Iowa Lakeside Laboratory offers students a unique educational experience—small, inquiry-based, full-immersion, field-oriented courses in the natural sciences (archaeology, biology, botany, ecology, hydrology, soils, zoology) and related areas, such as environmental sciences, environmental humanities, sustainability, and the health sciences. Courses are taught at the sophomore/junior level and the senior/graduate level. Enrollment usually is limited to 10 or fewer students per course. Most courses meet all day Monday through Friday, last up to four weeks, and offer 1 s.h. of credit for each week (40 clock hours) in class. One- and two-week courses also are available, including courses designed especially for teachers and professionals.

Not all courses are offered every year; visit the Course Catalog on the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory website or consult summer course offerings at the University of Iowa or the other public universities in Iowa to learn which courses will be offered during a particular summer session. Students should check with their advisors to determine whether specific courses count toward requirements for their majors or minors or toward other requirements.


Research projects by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members can be completed either on the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory campus or at many nearby natural areas. Undergraduate and graduate students are strongly encouraged to work on independent projects at the laboratory, and graduate students are welcome to use Lakeside as a base for their thesis and dissertation research. Laboratory space and other facilities are available for long- or short-term research projects.


Students may enroll in Iowa Lakeside Laboratory courses by submitting an online registration and housing form on the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory website. Information about scholarships, tuition, and housing also can be found on this website under the Student Resources section.

Registration usually opens in early January. Enrollment is limited, so students should register early. When they register, they must apply for housing or indicate that they plan to live off campus.