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Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS)

bls photoThe University of Iowa’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) allows you to earn the same high-quality education as our on-campus students with one major difference: you study from a distance. No campus visits are required.

If you have accumulated 60 or more credits from several universities or colleges but haven't earned your bachelor's degree, the online-exclusive Bachelor of Liberal Studies from The University of Iowa may be just what you need.

The BLS doesn't require the traditional selection of a major. What it does offer you is the opportunity to choose your course work based on your interests and with the guidance of your advisor. You may also choose from our list of track options, including certificates and areas of emphasis.

All University of Iowa course work is semester-based so while you may submit your application at any time, you begin course work at the start of the fall (August), spring (January), or summer (May) sessions.

More than 1,000 students have graduated from the BLS program since it was established in 1977 and many of our graduates have pursued graduate or professional work.

To learn more about the BLS program, continue reading.


  • Admission Requirements
  • Graduation Requirements
  • Tracks
  • Start!

New University of Iowa Applicants:

  • 60 semester hours of transferable credit,
  • A cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 2.5 or above, and
  • High school course requirements


    • Hold an Associate of Arts (AA):
    • Students with an AA from any Iowa community college, or Waldorf College, allows you to be admitted with a 2.0 GPA. All General Education Program requirements are considered satisfied except the world language requirement.
    • Students with an AA from Black Hawk College in Illinois may be admitted with a 2.25 GPA. All General Education Program requirements are considered satisfied except the world language requirement.
    • Students with an AA from other institutions are eligible for admission according to the criteria for new University of Iowa applicants listed above. Transfer credit is evaluated on a course-by-course basis.

Former University of Iowa Students:

  • 60 semester hours of transferable credit and
  • a GPA of 2.0 or above on either all University of Iowa course work or on all course work completed

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate from The University of Iowa with your BLS, you must have a total of at least 120 semester hours from all sources with a maximum of 60 semester hours credit from two-year institutions.

Your 120 semester hours must include:

  • 45 semester hours of upper-level course work
  • 30 semester hours of credit earned from The University of Iowa after admission to the BLS program
  • Completion of General Education Program requirements
  • Completion of Distribution Area requirements
  • A minimum 2.0 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in all:
    • completed course work
    • upper-level course work
    • University of Iowa course work
    • transfer course work

Students who have received an Associate of Arts' degree from an Iowa 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:

  • A minimum of 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of credit acceptable toward graduation (mathematics courses comparable to 22M:001 Basic Algebra I, 22M:002 Basic Algebra II, and 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.

If you entered The University of Iowa 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 General Education (6 s.h. selected from two different areas). General Education policies governing the overall program have not been changed.

General Education Requirements

  • Rhetoric: composition II plus speech
  • World Languages: fourth-semester proficiency in one foreign language OR 4 years in high school
  • Interpretation of Literature: 3 s.h.
  • Natural Sciences: 7 s.h. (includes at least one lab science)
  • Quantitative/Formal Reasoning: 3 s.h.
  • Social Sciences: 3 s.h.
  • Historical Perspectives: 3 s.h.
  • International and Global Issues: 3 s.h.
  • Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts: 3 s.h.
  • Values, Society, and Diversity: 3 s.h.

Completion of BLS Distribution Area requirements

  • You complete a minimum of three of the five general thematic groupings, or Distribution Areas, listed below:
    • Humanities
    • Communications and Arts
    • Natural Science and Math
    • Social Sciences
    • Professional Fields

Within each of the three selected areas, you are required to complete 12 semester hours of course work. At least six semester hours must be upper-level course work.

Because the degree does not call for the completion of a traditional major, you can develop an individual program or choose an existing track option, including certificates and areas of emphasis, listed below. Completed certificates will appear on your official UI transcript. Students are not eligible to enroll in another program or minor.

Areas of Emphasis


For the degrees listed below, you will need to apply as a transfer student. Please review the Transfer Student Application Process.

Apply Now: Once you have logged into the online application, select "transfer to apply to the BLS program.


Questions? Call 800-272-6430

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