Learning Goals in Liberal Arts and Sciences

The primary mission of the college is to promote learning in all its dimensions by providing students with ample opportunities to acquire the requisite knowledge, abilities, and skills to succeed in the world beyond the university. Through coursework within the major and in general education, students will develop skills in reasoning, analysis, and communication; achieve an understanding of the intellectual, historical, and artistic foundations of culture; and work to strengthen their abilities to interact with people, cultures, and the environment in an ethical and sensitive manner. To achieve these learning goals, the college asks students to acquire depth in learning within disciplines of their own choosing, and to acquire breadth through LAS general education courses and electives. Students’ ability to build connections between their disciplinary learning and today’s workplace needs is also supported by LAS Career Services and through courses such as LAS 203: Professional Career Preparation where students develop the knowledge, skills and practices they need to navigate internship and job searches.

Communication proficiency

The faculty of Iowa State University believe that all educated people should be able to communicate effectively in a variety of settings and media, including electronic. Consequently, Iowa State University graduates are expected to develop competence in three interrelated areas of communication: written, oral, and visual.

All students will earn six credits in the two-course introductory sequence (ENGL 150: Critical Thinking and Communication; ENGL 250: Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition), normally taken in the first and second years. At a minimum, students must demonstrate their communication proficiency by earning a grade of C or better in ENGL 250; some majors/degree programs may set higher requirements for communication proficiency. Continuing development of communication skills will be directed by the student’s major department; this designated coursework may be either a course (or courses) required in the student’s program or an advanced communication course offered by the Department of English, such as ENGL 302: Business Communication; ENGL 305: Creative Writing: Nonfiction; ENGL 309: Proposal and Report Writing; or ENGL 314: Technical Communication.

Additional information about the Communication Proficiency Policy and its guiding principles can be found in the College and Curricula section of the University Catalog.

Information literacy

Independent study and investigation through the use of books, journals, and libraries enable students to grow intellectually and professionally in college and afterward. For this reason, all students receive instruction in the use of the University Library, including practice in how to locate the published literature of their respective fields of study.

For undergraduate students, LIB 160: Information Literacy is a one-credit graduation requirement course that provides a foundation of information literacy and library research skills and concepts. Librarians also work each semester with ISU course instructors to teach course-related instruction sessions for undergraduate students in the effective use of library resources in course-relevant fields of study.

World language requirement

The faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences believes that undergraduate students should acquire elementary practical experience in a second language, should be introduced to the theoretical study of language structure, and should begin to develop an understanding of a second culture through study of that culture’s language. Students meet this expectation by satisfying a graduation requirement equivalent to the first year of university-level study in one world language.

Students may meet this requirement through several pathways:

  • completing three or more years of high-school world language study in a single language
  • passing the exam for credit at the 102 level
  • receiving a passing grade in an ISU 102 world language or American Sign Language (ASL) course, an ISU 107 intensive world language course, or equivalent transfer course
  • receiving a passing grade in a world language course taught in a language other than English at the 200-level or higher
  • being a native speaker of a language other than English
  • completing a major in any world language
  • earning a passing grade in SPAN 097 Accelerated Spanish Review.

Questions about the World Language Requirement and how to meet it should be directed to the College Academic Services office in 102 Catt Hall either in-person or by email at LAS_SAS@iastate.edu. Credits applied toward the World Language Requirement cannot be used to satisfy the general education requirements, but students who have fulfilled the World Language Requirement may apply approved courses in world languages toward the appropriate general education areas.

Advanced credit requirements

To obtain a bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, curriculum in liberal arts and sciences, a student must earn at least 45 credits at the 300 level or above taken at a four-year college. All such credits, including courses taken on a pass/not pass basis, may be used to meet this requirement.

The major must contain at least 8 credits in courses taken at Iowa State University that are numbered 300 or above and in which the student’s grade is C or higher.

Learning goals of the major

Students must show they have achieved depth in a specialized area by completing successfully the requirements and learning goals of a major. A major comprises 24 to 48 credits in a specific discipline as determined by the faculty. Tracks within a major must have a common core that supports learning outcomes of the major. Some courses outside the major discipline may also be required as supporting work for the major. Courses in the first major listed on the degree program may not be counted in the general education groups.

The average grade of all courses in the major (those courses listed under major on the degree audit) must be 2.0 or higher.

Courses meeting the requirements of additional majors may be counted in the general education groups. When choosing an additional major, students must confirm that the additional major is allowable.