Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences awards Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and Bachelor of Music (BM) degrees.

To earn a Bachelor’s Degree, you must:

It is your responsibility to be aware of current requirements and to frequently consult with your advisor about your progress toward completing them. 

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, see Earning multiple undergraduate degrees

Completing a major

You must declare at least one major by the time you earn 72 semester hours.

Specific requirements for majors, minors, and certificates are listed in the General Catalog.

List of majors
Academic advising and the degree audit

Meeting the College’s academic standards

Candidates for the BA, BS, BFA, and BM degrees must earn a minimum grade point average of C (2.00) in the following GPA calculations:

  1. All college work attempted
  2. All work undertaken at the University of Iowa
  3. All work attempted in the major
  4. All University of Iowa work in the major

The University of Iowa and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences also recognize excellent academic achievement both at graduation and each semester. 

Completing the requirements of the General
Education Program

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has designed the General Education Program to provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your education, your career and, ultimately, your life as an educated person. As you begin your study at the University of Iowa, General Education courses will help you develop fundamental skills and knowledge that will prepare you for courses in your major.

General Education requirements

All CLAS students must complete the General Education requirements as stated on the student's degree audit. The program consists of a common core in communication and literacy; foundational courses in the natural and social sciences and quantitative thinking; and courses in culture, society and the arts. To fulfill the General Education requirements, students may select from a wide variety of courses within numerous disciplines. View the requirements.

General Education policies

Any student who wishes to earn a BA, BS, BFA, or BM degree must complete all the requirements of the CLAS General Education Program. If a student is planning to apply to undergraduate programs within the Tippie College of Business, College of Engineering, Carver College of Medicine, College of Nursing, or College of Pharmacy, the student should check those colleges’ general education requirements, as they may be different from ours. Students should contact their advisors and/or the Academic Advising Center with questions.

Information for students who first entered The University of Iowa before summer 2011

If you entered the UI before summer 2011, you will be held to the General Education requirements as noted on your degree audit, including those within the Humanities (3 s.h.) and Distributed areas (6 s.h. selected from two different areas in the Distributed category). To better reflect the goals of the College, two General Education requirements were revised for students entering UI in summer 2011 or after. These students do not complete the Distributed requirement or the Humanities requirement. Students who entered summer 2011 or later instead fulfill three new requirements: International and Global Issues (3 s.h.); Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts (3 s.h.); Values, Society, and Diversity (3 s.h.). GE policies governing the overall program have not changed and all other GE Program requirements remain the same.

The GE policies below apply to both the new and older GE course and area requirements. Policies governing the GE requirements have not changed. Please contact your academic advisor or the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development with questions.

Transfer credit

Transfer credit may be used to fulfill some areas of the General Education Program. Transfer credit is evaluated by Admissions, and courses accepted for completion of the General Education Program are shown on the degree audit.

For more information about transfer policies, contact Admissions.

Students with degrees from two-year institutions

Students who have received an associate degree from two-year institution participating in articulation agreements with The University of Iowa are considered to have satisfied all requirements of the General Education Program, except world languages, if the program of study for which the degree was awarded includes the following:

  1. A minimum of 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of credit acceptable toward graduation (mathematics courses comparable to MATH:0100 (22M:001) Basic Algebra I, MATH:#002 (22M:002) Basic Algebra II, and MATH:0300 (22M:003) Basic Geometry are not accepted toward graduation); and
  2. Completion of an agreed upon group of courses; and
  3. A grade point average of at least 2.00.

Representatives from the cooperating institutions and the Regents universities meet periodically to review the provisions of the articulation agreements.

If a student completes an associate degree other than an A.A. or if the A.A. is from a college that does not have an articulation agreement with the University, credits will be evaluated course-by-course by Admissions to determine how they will transfer.

For more information about transfer policies and the General Education requirements, contact Admissions.

Proficiency exams

The University accepts credit by examination for some areas of the General Education Program, including AP (Advanced Placement), Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), CLEP (College-Level Examination Program), and IB (International Baccalaureate) credit. See AP, CIE, CLEP and IB exam equivalencies

Please see Policies for World Languages and Approved Courses for information on World Languages proficiency exams.

*This category was formerly known as the foreign language requirement; the same policies apply regardless of name.

See also Credit by examination.

P/N, S/F, or S/U grading options

Students cannot choose the Pass/Non-pass (P/N) option for courses they are taking to satisfy GEP requirements. (A student can choose the P/N grading option for a GEP course is if he/she is taking it as an elective and the credit will not be applied to the GE requirements.)

Courses using S/F or S/U grading are very rarely approved for GE status in General Education Program. Read more about the P/N, S/F, and S/U grading options.

Satisfying multiple requirements

Students may take a General Education-approved course and may use that course to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a requirement of their major, minor, or certificate program. However, students may not use a single course to satisfy more than one GEP requirement.

If students take a course that is approved in more than one General Education requirement area, they may choose which GEP requirement the course will satisfy (contact Graduation Analysis).

Limit on courses from a single department

With the exception of the foreign language/world languages requirement, students may not use more than three courses from any one department to complete the General Education requirements.

Repeating General Education courses

Courses that may be repeated for credit are at times approved for GE status in General Education Program. Students may repeat these GEP courses for credit  but the credit may be applied to only one GE requirement. Students may not use credit earned from a repeatable course to fulfill more than one GE requirement.

Honors students

Those admitted as honors students or who have become members of the UI Honors Program may enroll in special honors sections of General Education courses. The Honors Program also offers some honors seminars that satisfy General Education requirements.

Students with disabilities

Students with documented learning or physical disabilities may need accommodations in order to complete the General Education Program. Accommodations are arranged by Student Disability Services in consultation with instructors, departments, and the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development. Please contact Peter Hubbard for additional information. In order to receive accommodations, students with disabilities should consult Student Disability Services as soon as they receive acceptance of admission.

Satisfying the UI and CLAS residence requirements

To earn a BA, BFA, BM, or BS degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students must satisfy both the University of Iowa residence requirement and the CLAS residence requirement.

The University of Iowa residence requirement

Credit hours earned in all courses offered by The University of Iowa are considered UI residence hours, regardless of whether the courses are offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, by another college within the University of Iowa, or through the Division of Continuing Education.

Credit hours earned from colleges and universities outside of the University of Iowa are considered non-residence credit.

Credit by examination may be residence or non-residence credit. If you earn credit by examination while you are enrolled in a college at the University of Iowa, the credit is considered UI residence credit. If, on the other hand, you earn credit by examination while you are enrolled in a college or university other than the University of Iowa and this credit appears on your transfer transcript, the credit is considered non-residence credit.

To earn a bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, you must complete one of the following UI residence options:

  • Earn your final 30 s.h. in residence credit, or
  • Earn 45 of your final 60 s.h. in residence credit, or
  • Earn an overall total of 90 s.h. in residence credit

The CLAS residence requirement

All students in any major offered by CLAS must complete the 30 semester hour CLAS residence requirement in order to earn a CLAS degree. Students must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of credit from courses administered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or otherwise designated as carrying residence credit.

Courses offered by the Departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Economics, Elementary Education, and Science Education are offered by the Colleges of Medicine, Business, and Education. Courses offered by these departments do not generally count for the CLAS residence requirement. However, if you earn a major from one of these departments, the credit hours of the courses applied to the major will be counted toward the CLAS residence requirement. Only the undergraduate majors from the departments listed above qualify for this exception.

All honors courses and courses with CLAS General Education status are counted toward fulfilling the CLAS residence requirement.


To be considered for graduation, you must file a degree application with the Office of the Registrar before the published deadline. The university cannot award a degree without first receiving this application.

Students may file the degree application on MyUI (select “Student Records”) for the current or the next session's graduation. You may also obtain and submit a paper application at the Registrar’s Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, or at Graduation Analysis, 2 Jessup Halll.

To have a certificate or minor listed on your permanent record, you must inform the Office of the Registrar when you file for graduation so that the Registrar can verify that you have completed the requirements for the requested certificate or minor.

Information about graduation ceremonies (commencement) may be found on the Registrar's web site under Commencement. Commencement ceremonies are held in May and December. Please note, summer degrees are awarded but no summer graduation ceremonies are held.