Communication and Media

Liberal Arts Core

The following is from the 2016-2017 UNI catalog,

Liberal Arts Core

As stated in the University of Northern Iowa mission statement, the university's undergraduate programs are founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum. The liberal arts experience in the Liberal Arts Core exposes students to the broad areas of knowledge embodied in the whole of the environment and liberates students to further develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to live thoughtful, creative, and productive lives. The American Association of Colleges and Universities' "Statement on Liberal Learning" reflects the purposes of UNI’s Liberal Arts Core:

A truly liberal education is one that prepares us to live responsible, productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world. It is an education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Liberal education requires that we understand the foundations of knowledge and inquiry about nature, culture and society; that we master core skills of perception, analysis, and expression; that we cultivate a respect for truth; that we recognize the importance of historical and cultural context; and that we explore connections among formal learning, citizenship, and service to our communities.

We experience the benefits of liberal learning by pursuing intellectual work that is honest, challenging, and significant, and by preparing ourselves to use knowledge and power in responsible ways. Liberal learning is not confined to particular fields of study. What matters in liberal education is substantial content, rigorous methodology and an active engagement with the societal, ethical, and practical implications of our learning. The spirit and value of liberal learning are equally relevant to all forms of higher education and to all students.

Because liberal learning aims to free us from the constraints of ignorance, sectarianism, and short-sightedness, it prizes curiosity and seeks to expand the boundaries of human knowledge. By its nature, therefore, liberal learning is global and pluralistic. It embraces the diversity of ideas and experiences that characterize the social, natural, and intellectual world. To acknowledge such diversity in all its forms is both an intellectual commitment and a social responsibility, for nothing less will equip us to understand our world and to pursue fruitful lives.

The ability to think, to learn, and to express oneself both rigorously and creatively, the capacity to understand ideas and issues in context, the commitment to live in society, and the yearning for truth are fundamental features of our humanity. In centering education upon these qualities, liberal learning is society’s best investment in our shared future.

(The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ “Statement on Liberal Learning,” 1999)

Requirements of the Liberal Arts Core*

(These Liberal Arts Core minimum hours and requirements pertain to all bachelor's degrees with the exception of the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree. For specifics pertaining to the Liberal Arts Core minimum hours and requirements for the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree, refer to Bachelor of Applied Science degree in this section.)

Summary (minimum 44 hours* for all students, with the exception of those pursuing B.A.S. degree).

Category 1: Core Competencies * 11
Category 2: Civilizations and Cultures 9
Category 3: Fine Arts, Literature, Philosophy and Religion 6
Category 4: Natural Science and Technology 7
Category 5: Social Science 9
Category 6: Capstone Experience 2
Total Hours 44

For students admitted to UNI prior to Fall 1994, the Speaking and Listening course included in the Core Competencies category is not required.


Category 1: Core Competencies    11 hours

Courses in written and oral communication enhance students’ abilities to read and listen critically and to write and speak effectively by attention to how the gathering, analyzing, and presenting of evidence and conclusions can be designed for specific purposes and audiences. Courses in quantitative techniques enhance students’ abilities to use quantitative data effectively and to apply relevant mathematical and statistical concepts and methods to diverse problems and situations. Personal wellness promotes the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and attitudes necessary for implementing positive health-related decisions.

A. Reading and Writing 3
Select one of the following:
First-Year Cornerstone: Integrated Communication I
and First-Year Cornerstone: Integrated Communication II(Both UNIV 1000 & UNIV 1010 must be taken to meet LAC Category 1A & 1B.) *
College Writing and Research **
Craft of Academic Writing ***
Critical Writing About Literature ^
B. Speaking and Listening 3
First-Year Cornerstone: Integrated Communication I
and First-Year Cornerstone: Integrated Communication II(Both UNIV 1000 & UNIV 1010 must be taken to meet LAC Category 1A & 1B.) *
Oral Communication
C. Quantitative Techniques and Understanding # 3
Select one of the following:
Modern Tools for Exploring Data
Mathematics in Decision Making
Calculus I
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Statistics for Life Sciences
Elementary Education students may meet the Category 1C requirement by completing MATH 1204.
D. Dimensions of Wellbeing 2
Dimensions of Wellbeing Lecture
Dimensions of Wellbeing Lab
Total Hours 11

These two courses will be taught in a 2-semester sequence, and a student must successfully complete both UNIV 1000 and UNIV 1010 in their first year of college, or it will not apply to Category 1A/1B credit.


ENGLISH 1005 (620:005) recommended for students with ACT English and Reading scores of 18-26.


ENGLISH 2015 (620:015) has prerequisite of combined ACT English and Reading scores of 54 or higher.


ENGLISH 2120 (620:034) recommended for English majors and minors with prerequisite of ACT English and Reading scores of 54 or higher.


Satisfactory score on ALEKS exam or subsequent remediation.

Category 2: Civilizations and Cultures    9 hours

Courses in this category promote an understanding of Western and non-Western cultures and civilizations from ancient times to the present through historical accounts, literatures, philosophies, religions, and fine arts. Using methods of critical inquiry, students explore aspects of human nature, the shaping of thoughts and values, and their interrelations. 

A. Humanities 6
Humanities I: The Ancient, Classical, and Medieval Worlds
Humanities II: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment
Humanities III: The Age of Revolution to the Present
B. Non-Western Cultures 3
Russia/Soviet Union
Latin America
Middle East
Native North America
Native Central and South America
SPAN 3020 (780:120) may substitute for the non-Western Cultures requirement.
Total Hours 9



SPAN 3020 (780:120) may substitute for the Non-Western Cultures requirement.

Category 3: Fine Arts, Literature, Philosophy and Religion    6 hours

Courses in this category explore diverse forms of human expression and enhance understanding of how religious, philosophical, literary, and aesthetic ideas and experiences shape and reflect cultures and common patterns of human life. Students will develop knowledge of the complex interplay of culture, history, and human experience through critical examination of ideas and beliefs, ritual and symbol, moral codes and social values, story and poetry, visual art, music, theater, and dance. 

A. Fine Arts * 3
Survey of Dance History
The Theatrical Arts and Society
Soundscapes: Music in Culture
Visual Inventions
Visual Perceptions
MUS HIST 1020 (590:002) may substitute for the Fine Arts requirement for all music majors.
B. Literature, Philosophy, or Religion 3
Literature: (topic)
Religions of the World
Philosophy: The Art of Thinking
Introduction to German Literature in Translation
Total Hours 6

Category 4: Natural Science and Technology    7 hours

Courses in natural science promote an understanding of science as a human process that investigates matter and energy acting within complex organic and inorganic systems. Fundamental principles of both physical and life sciences are included.

Students are required to take a course with a scheduled laboratory from either Life Sciences or Physical Sciences or another laboratory course offered by the College Humanities, Arts and Sciences. Only 6 hours are required for students who meet the Liberal Arts Core laboratory requirement with a course other than one listed in Life or Physical Sciences.

A. Life Sciences 3-4
Select one of the following:
Human Origins
Life: The Natural World
Life: The Natural World - Lab *
Life: Continuity and Change
Life: Continuity and Change - Lab *
The following major and/or minor courses can substitute for the Life Sciences requirement:
Principles of Microbiology *
General Biology: Organismal Diversity *
General Biology: Cell Structure and Function *
Anatomy and Physiology I *
Inquiry into Life Science *
B. Physical Sciences 3
Select one of the following:
Principles of Chemistry *
Molecules and Life *
Astronomy **
Astronomy Laboratory *
Elements of Weather
Elements of Weather Laboratory *
Introduction to Geology *
Physical Geography
Physical Geography Laboratory
Physics in Everyday Life
Conceptual Physics *
Introduction to Sustainability
The following major and/or minor courses can substitute for the Physical Sciences requirement:
Chemical Technology *
General Chemistry I *
General Chemistry I-II *
Fossils and Evolution
General Physics I *
Physics I for Science and Engineering *
Inquiry into Earth and Space Science *
Inquiry into Physical Science *
Total hours 7

Lab Course.


Lab Course if 4-hour option elected.

Category 5: Social Science    9 hours

Courses in this category introduce students to the description and analysis of human behavior from different vantage points, ranging from the societal, cultural, and historical to the institutional and individual perspectives.  There is also a focus on broadening one's understanding of diversity and global issues. In this category, students are exposed to a variety of social science disciplines, and learn how these fields study and analyze human attitudes, behaviors, and relationships.

Required: one course from group A, one course from group B, and one course from group C. 

A. Group A Sociocultural and Historical Perspectives 3
Culture, Nature, and Society
Human Geography
History of the United States
Introduction to Sociology
Women's and Gender Studies: Introduction
B. Group B Individual and Institutional Perspectives 3
Introduction to Economics *
Human Identity and Relationships
Introduction to American Politics
Introduction to Psychology
C. Group C Diversity and Global Issues 3
Dynamics of Human Development
World Geography
Contemporary Political Problems
International Relations
Social Problems
Women, Men, and Society
Social Welfare: A World View
American Racial and Ethnic Minorities
Total Hours 9



Satisfactory completion of both ECON 1041 (920:053) and ECON 1051 (920:054) by all non-business majors and Business Teaching majors, through UNI or transfer, may substitute for ECON 1031 (920:024).

Category 6: Capstone Experience    2 hours

Capstone courses provide opportunities for students to synthesize the diverse realms of thought they have studied and to apply the intellectual proficiencies they have acquired. The emphasis is on cultivating life-long learning through linking theory and academic preparation to practical problem-solving activities in multidisciplinary seminars or community-based learning courses.

Prerequisite: junior standing.

The most current list of approved Liberal Arts Core Capstone courses is available in each semester’s Schedule of Classes. Also visit the website

Administrative Policies:

  1. Liberal Arts Core courses may be used to satisfy requirements for both the Liberal Arts Core and the major, minor, and program emphases.
  2. Departments offering a Liberal Arts Core course may preclude their major or minor students from taking that particular course to satisfy the requirements for the Liberal Arts Core, the major, or the minor.
  3. Liberal Arts Core requirements can be met through CLEP examinations, departmental examinations, and the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. A student who receives CLEP credit in both the physical and biological sciences shall be considered to have fulfilled the laboratory requirement.
  4. No Liberal Arts Core course may be taken for graduate credit.
  5. No Liberal Arts Core course may have a non-Liberal Arts Core course as a prerequisite.
  6. All courses taken to meet Liberal Arts Core requirements must be taken for graded credit.
  7. The Associate of Arts degree from Iowa community colleges shall continue to be accepted, according to an approved articulation agreement, to meet most Liberal Arts Core requirements.
  8. The Liberal Arts Core requirements apply to all undergraduate degree programs.
  9. Regents Articulation Agreement:
    The University of Northern Iowa, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Iowa, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University agree to accept fulfillment of the Liberal Arts Core at any one of them as equivalent to completion of Liberal Arts Core requirements at another, with the following stipulations:
    1. This agreement does not apply to those students who transfer without having fully completed the Liberal Arts Core prior to transfer.
    2. Validation of fulfillment of Liberal Arts Core requirements requires that a student transferring must have met the transfer requirements of the receiving institution with respect to semester hours and grade point average.
    3. When a foreign language proficiency, a capstone course, and/or a course in foreign culture is required, whether within or in addition to the Liberal Arts Core, a student may meet this requirement at either institution regardless of the institution whose Liberal Arts Core requirements the student fulfills.
    4. Liberal Arts Core validation is the responsibility of the student transferring and will be completed upon request to the Registrar of the institution from which the student is transferring.