GE CLAS Core: World Languages

Overview and Options
Policies for Languages Taught at UI
Policies for Languages not Taught at UI
World Language Courses Offered at UI

Overview and Options

GE CLAS Core courses in World Languages provide speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in a second language as well as knowledge of the cultures in which the language is spoken.

To complete this GE CLAS Core requirement in World Languages, students may choose one of the following options:

  1. Complete four years of a single world language in high school.
  2. Achieve the fourth level of proficiency in a world language by completing the appropriate sequence of courses offered at the University of Iowa.
  3. Achieve the fourth level of proficiency by completing courses at another college or university or through appropriate study abroad courses.
  4. Achieve an equivalent score on a related Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or other approved college-level examination accepted by the University of Iowa and CLAS.
  5. Earn an equivalent score on both a UI written placement test and on a UI oral proficiency exam in a language taught at the University of Iowa.
  6. Earn an equivalent score on a proficiency exam in a language that is not taught at the University of Iowa.

A fourth level of proficiency is equivalent to the successful completion of an intermediate II language course (or of a second-year second semester course, for example) as taught at the University of Iowa.

Depending on a student's placement test results and the language taken, a student may need to take four semesters of a language, starting with a beginning course and ending with a second semester intermediate course. Other students may be able to start elsewhere in the language sequence and complete the GE WL requirement by taking two or three courses.

Credit hours earned for these courses vary by language. Students should be sure to take the placement test for the language of interest and should be aware of the course sequence required to fulfill the GE requirement in World Languages for that particular language.

Once the World Languages requirement is completed, a student may earn up to eight additional semester hours of college credit while studying a world language. Read about the Furthering Language Incentive Program (FLIP).

Policies for Languages Taught at UI

If a student has attained fourth level of proficiency in a language taught at the University of Iowa and if this knowledge is not in the form of course work and therefore does not appear on the student's degree audit, it is possible to validate proficiency with a placement test and a proficiency exam given at the University of Iowa.

Students do not earn credit hours toward graduation through placement tests or proficiency exams.

  1. For languages taught at the University of Iowa, students must first take the related University of Iowa placement test.
  2. If the score earned on the placement test is at a level accepted by the department offering the related test, the student should next contact the department to arrange for a proficiency exam.
  3. Most world languages are offered by the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures and by the Department of Classics for Latin or ancient Greek. Contact these departments for information on proficiency exams.
  4. Successful completion of both the placement test and the proficiency exam are required to fulfill the GE World Languages requirement for languages taught at UI. Exceptions are not made to this policy.

Guidelines for Taking Placement Tests for Languages Taught at UI

  1. Students proficient in more than one language may take the placement test in each language taught at UI.
  2. A student who has been enrolled in a University of Iowa World Languages course may not take the placement test in that language if the student has been in the course past the UI deadline for adding courses.
  3. Ordinarily, a student may take a placement test in a particular language only once.
  4. A student may repeat placement test only if a significant language-learning experience outside of the classroom has occurred since the exam was first taken.

Students seeking exceptions to these guidelines should consult with the department teaching the related language for permission to retake the placement test.

Policies for Languages not Taught at UI

A student with a knowledge of a language that is not taught at UI may have the option of taking a proficiency exam to meet the GE CLAS Core World Languages requirement. If the exam shows that the student meets the required fourth level for GE CLAS Core language proficiency, the student will have fulfilled this requirement in World Languages. For more information and for guidelines on proficiency exams for languages not taught at the University of Iowa, visit this page

GE CLAS Core World Languages Courses

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers many world language course sequences that can be used to complete this General Education CLAS Core requirement. To avoid duplication or regression, students are strongly advised to first take the related placement test and to consult the appropriate world language department or with the departmental advisor before enrolling in a course.