Communication Proficiency Requirement

The University requirement of C or better in English 250 went in to effect Fall 2018 (2018-2019 ISU Catalog).

ISUComm is an all-university requirement. However, sometimes students or their advisers misunderstand the difference between the university-wide ISUComm Foundation Courses credit requirement (English 150 and 250) and the upper-level communication proficiency requirement specified by each major. Knowing the difference is important because the grades a student earns in English 150 and 250 may be subject to a communication proficiency requirement set by a student’s department.

An all-university communication proficiency grade requirement in English 250: “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” (2019-2020 Iowa State University Catalog). For further information on this university requirement, please go to University Requirement for C or Better in English 250.

Each major department must “specify a set of intended learning outcomes and design communication experiences by which students in the major can achieve the desired level of communication proficiency” and then assess students’ progress in meeting these learning outcomes (2019–2020 Iowa State University Catalog). Since each department develops its own criteria and procedures for communication proficiency, differences exist, although all departments must have some level of communication proficiency beyond the ISUComm Foundation Courses. For example, many departments require English 150 and 250 as well as an advanced communication course such as English 302 or 314. Many departments require students to meet a minimal grade requirement in English 150 and 250 (and possibly in an advanced communication course), so the grade you assign in ISUComm Foundation Courses might fail to meet this requirement.

For example, while a D+ grade in English 150 may qualify the student (however minimally) to go on to English 250, the grade may be problematic for the student trying to meet the communication proficiency requirement set by their department. In some cases, because of the communication proficiency requirement of the student’s major department, the student may be required to repeat the course or make up the deficiency some other way. If you have any questions about the communication proficiency requirements for a given department, either contact the ISUComm Foundation Courses Office or contact the student’s major department.

It is important to remember that while the English Department may be requested to advise other departments on their communication proficiency requirements, each department ultimately sets those requirements in collaboration with ISUComm. Hence, the English Department determines proficiency only for its own majors; all other departments are free to set their own standards.