CLAS Core Policies

GE Core Courses and Earning a Degree
Transfer credit
Students with degrees from two-year institutions
Proficiency exams
P/N, S/F, or S/U grading options
Satisfying multiple requirements
Limit on courses from a single department
Repeating GE CLAS Core courses
Honors students
Students with accommodations from Student Disability Services
Frequently asked questions

GE Core Courses and Earning a Degree

Any student who wishes to earn a BA, BS, BFA, or BM degree must complete a major and all the GE CLAS Core requirements as indicated on the student's degree audit. (Other graduation requirements may be found here.)

  • The GE CLAS Core policies below apply to all students earning a degree from CLAS.
  • Although some GE Core requirement areas have changed over the years, these policies have remained the same.
  • Students who reenter the University of Iowa after an absence of more than 12 months will be held to the GE requirements under which they first entered Iowa. If a student transfers within UI from another undergraduate college into CLAS, the date the student entered UI is still the date that determines the student's GE requirements.
  • Any student held to the older GE requirements may switch to the new GE CLAS Core requirements, but once making this choice may not switch back to the older requirements. Students interested in making this change should first discuss the choice with an advisor and then request the change in 120 Schaeffer Hall.

If a student is planning to apply to undergraduate programs within the Tippie College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering, Carver College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, or College of Public Health, the student should check those colleges’ General Education requirements, as they may be different those in CLAS. Students should contact their advisors and/or the Academic Advising Center with questions.

Transfer credit

Transfer credit may be used to fulfill some areas of the GE CLAS Core. Transfer credit is evaluated by Admissions, and courses accepted for completion 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 a two-year institution participating in articulation agreements with the University of Iowa are considered to have satisfied all requirements of the GE CLAS Core, except for the World Languages and Diversity and Inclusion requirements, if the program of study for which the degree was awarded includes the following:

  • 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
  • Completion of an agreed upon group of courses; and
  • A grade point average of at least 2.00.

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

If a student completes an associate degree other than an AA or if the AA is from a college that does not have an articulation agreement with the University of Iowa, 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 GE CLAS Core, 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

*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 GE CLAS Core requirements. (A student can choose the P/N grading option for a Core course if taking it as an elective; the credit earned will not be applied to the Core requirements.)

Courses using S/F or S/U grading are very rarely approved for status in GE CLAS Core.. Read more about the P/N, S/F, and S/U grading options on these pages..

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 GE CLAS Core requirements.

Repeating GE CLAS Core courses

Courses that may be repeated for credit are at times approved for GE Core status. Students may repeat these courses for credit, but the credit may be applied to only one GE CLAS Core requirement. In other words, students may not use credit earned from a repeatable course to fulfill more than one 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 GE CLAS Core courses. The Honors Program also offers some honors seminars that satisfy a number of Core requirements.

Students with accommodations from Student Disability Services

Students with documented learning or physical disabilities may need accommodations in order to complete the GE CLAS Core. 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.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to satisfy all of the requirements?
Yes, you must complete all the requirements of the GE CLAS Core.

If you are planning to apply to undergraduate programs within the Tippie College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, the Carver College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, or the College of Pharmacy, you should check those colleges’ general education requirements, as they may be different from those required by CLAS. Your advisor can help you determine the correct requirements for your plan of study.

Can I satisfy a Core requirement through examinations or transfer credit?
Yes. We accept AP, CLEP, and IB credit by examination for some areas of the GE CLAS Core. The World Languages component may be fulfilled through placement or proficiency examinations. Transfer credit also may be used to fulfill some requirements. Consult Admissions for specific information.

Can I use the same course to satisfy more than one Core requirement?
No. A single course fulfills only one requirement. If you take a course that is approved in more than one GE Core area, the Registrar will place the course on your degree audit in the first uncompleted category for which the course is approved. You may request that the course be moved to another category for which it is approved by emailing Graduation Analysis.

Can I use the P/N, S/F, or S/U grading options when satisfying Core requirements?
You cannot choose the Pass/Nonpass (P/N) option for courses you’re taking in order to satisfy the CLAS Core requirements. The only time you can choose the P/N grading option is if you are taking a GE course as an elective. Courses with S/F or S/U grading that are approved for Core status by the College may be used to satisfy Core requirements. 

Can I use that same course to satisfy a requirement of my major, minor, or certificate program?
Yes, in most cases. If the course is approved for GE CLAS Core and is also a requirement for a major or minor, you generally may use that same course to satisfy multiple requirements. However, some programs limit multiple counting, especially certificate programs. Consult the program director or the General Catalog for more information.

How many courses can I use from a single department to satisfy the CLAS Core requirements?
No more than three. With the exception of the World Languages requirement, you may not use more than three courses from any one department to complete the General Education CLAS Core.

What if I’m an Honors student?
If you were admitted as an Honors student or have joined the Honors Program, you may enroll in special Honors sections of General Education courses. The Honors Program also offers some Honors seminars that can satisfy CLAS Core requirements.

I have a documented learning disability related to foreign languages. How can I get help with the GE World Languages requirement?
Please contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. SDS staff members will work with you and your instructor to coordinate alternate accommodations. Students should also contact the Office of Academic Programs and Student Development and talk to us about your situation. Read the full list of GE CLAS Core policies.