General Education CLAS Core Policies

GE Core courses and earning a degree

Any student who wishes to earn a BA, BS, BFA, or BM degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete a major and all the General Education CLAS Core requirements as indicated on the student's degree audit. Other graduation requirements that a student must complete include the needed grade point averages and the fulfillment of the CLAS and UI residence requirements. See Earning a degree for additional information.

  • The General Education (GE) CLAS Core policies apply to all students earning a degree from CLAS, regardless of the student's major.
  • Although some GE CLAS Core requirements have changed over the years, the GE CLAS Core policies have remained the same.
  • Students who reenter the University of Iowa after an absence of more than 12 months are responsible for completing the General Education requirements in place when the student first entered the University of 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.

Student should keep in mind that different colleges within the University of Iowa have different General Education requirements. Students should contact their CLAS advisor and/or the Academic Advising Center for more information. Information is also available at the various collegiate websites and in the General Catalog.

Transfer credit

Transfer credit may be used to fulfill some areas of the GE CLAS Core. Possible transfer credit for the Core requirements is evaluated by Admissions and by the Office of Study Abroad, depending on the type of course being evaluated. Courses accepted for completion of a GE CLAS Core requirement are shown on the degree audit. Please note that the GE CLAS Core requirement in Diversity and Inclusion must be completed at UI. Transfer credit is not accepted for this requirement.

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 requirement and the Diversity and Inclusion requirement, 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 CLAS Core requirements, contact the Office of Admissions.

Placement tests

The University of Iowa offers placement tests in mathematics, chemistry, and in world languages that are taught at the University of Iowa. 

Placement tests help students and their advisors to determine which course is the best place to begin the study of a subject. A student does not earn credit by taking a placement test, but the test results may allow students to register for the next course in a sequence. For this reason, placement test scores will sometimes serve as one option for completing a prerequisite for a course.

Mathematics Placement Tests

Two placement tests in mathematics are available, each based on the course work taken in high school or at the university or college level. Choose the link below that describes your previous course work. Do not use books, notes, or any other materials or resources or you could be placed in a course incorrectly. 

  • All first-year students and continuing students who did not take a year or more of Calculus in high school and who have not earned college credit for Calculus should take the ALEKS Math Placement Exam.
  • First-year and continuing students who took a year or more of Calculus in high school or who have earned college credit for Calculus should take the Advanced Math Placement Test.

Chemistry Placement Test 

Take the Chemistry Placement Test (CDT) if you are considering a major in any of the health or natural sciences. Do not use books, notes, or any other materials or resources or you could be placed in a course that is not appropriate.

World Languages Placement Tests

A placement test score in a world language taught at the University of Iowa will help you and your advisor to determine the best level for your first enrollment in a UI language course. Placement test results may also allow a student to skip an introductory course if the test shows that the student is ready to take the next course in the language sequence. 

Placement test scores by themselves do not result in earned credit hours or in a waiver of the World Languages General Education requirement. 

For additional information on fulfilling the world language requirement, see GE CLAS Core: World Languages.

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

Students cannot choose the Pass/Non-pass (P/N) option for any courses that they are taking to satisfy GE CLAS Core requirements. A student may choose the P/N grading option for a Core course if taking it as an elective; the credit earned, however, will not be applied to the Core requirements. Courses with S/F or S/U grading that are approved for Core status by the College may be used to satisfy Core requirements. Note: Special P/N course policies applied for the spring 2020 semester only. See for more information.

Satisfying multiple requirements

Students may take a GE CLAS Core course and may use that course to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a requirement of a major, minor, or certificate. However, students may not use a single course to satisfy more than one GE CLAS Core requirement.

If a student takes a course that is approved in more than one General Education requirement area, the student may choose which Core requirement the course will satisfy by contacting their advisor or sending a request to Graduation Services to apply the course to the chosen area.

Limit on courses from a single department

With the exception of the 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.

Core course effective date

Many courses now approved for General Education were taught before they received approval. CLAS does not apply or grant GE Core Status to a course retroactively; status only applies with the effective session and after.

Honors students

Students in the University Honors program may enroll in special honors sections of GE CLAS Core courses. The University 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 and departments. 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 General Education CLAS Core requirements?
Yes. In order to graduate with a degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences you must satisfy all of the requirements of the GE CLAS Core. Students, however, have many options for how to complete these requirements.

Can I satisfy a Core requirement through examinations?
CLAS accepts some credit from standardized exams, such as Advanced Placement,  for certain areas of the GE CLAS Core. See Credit by Exam Options for further information on exams accepted by CLAS and the scores required. 

The GE CLAS Core World Languages component may be fulfilled through a combination of a successful placement  test and an appropriate score on the proficiency exam if the language is taught at UI or through a different method of testing if UI does not offer the language. Other options for for fulfilling this requirement also are offered. See GE CLAS Core: World Languages for additional information.

Can I use the same course to satisfy more than one Core requirement?
No. A single course may only fulfill 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 contacting your advisor or emailing Graduation Services.

Can I use the P/N  grading option 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 apply the GE course as an elective and not toward the completion of a GE requirement. See Pass/Nonpass grading option (P/N) for additional information on P/N policies.

Can I use S/F or S/U grading options when satisfying Core requirements?
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?
If the course is approved for GE CLAS Core and is also a requirement for a major, minor, or certificate, you may use that same course to satisfy these multiple requirements. However, many programs limit multiple counting for non-GE courses, especially certificate programs. Talk to your advisor for more information.

How many courses may 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.

Are there special Core courses for Honors student?
If you were admitted as an University Honors student or have joined the University Honors Program, you may enroll in Honors sections of General Education courses. University Honors also offers Honors seminars that 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 (SDS) as soon as possible; review the site for the information and documents needed to apply for accommodations, see World Language Substitution Courses on the SDS website for additional information. The approval process can take time and it is important to contact SDS before arriving at UI or as soon as possible. Students also may contact the Academic Programs and Student Development office, or 319-335-2633, to speak with an associate director about their situation.