Students transferring courses to Mount Mercy from other institutions will have their coursework evaluated by the Registrar's Office to determine whether a transfer course will satisfy a specific core requirement. Applicable transfer policies based on degree status will also be considered.

Reflection and Action: The Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is the foundational piece of a Mount Mercy education. Regardless of one’s major, every student at Mount Mercy can be assured of a broad course of study in the traditional liberal arts. The courses in the Core are designed to foster inquiry, critical thinking, personal reflection, and a spirit of service and citizenship. The Core emphasizes freedom of choice as each student creates an individualized plan to complete the core requirements according to his or her needs and interests. The Core Curriculum has four components:

  • An introductory Portal Course
  • A comprehensive survey of the seven Domains of Liberal Study
  • A culminating Capstone experience
  • Multiple ways to achieve Competency in writing, math, and oral communication

The Mount Mercy Portal

The portal course has two main objectives: to introduce students to the fields of liberal studies, priming them to make informed choices about their future core courses; and to foster a sense of community and service in the class, at Mount Mercy, and in the greater Cedar Rapids area. Students will examine questions from the Mercy Critical Concerns: earth, immigration, non-violence, poverty, racism, and women.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, students will gain experience examining problems from multiple perspectives. The interdisciplinary nature of the course fosters teamwork and leadership in the students. As they encounter questions from various liberal disciplines, students will be asked to reflect, then take action, as they articulate for themselves what it means to be a citizen in their various communities. During the portal course, students will outline an integrated plan for completing their course of liberal studies, as chosen from the Domains.

Transfer students who have an AA degree from an Iowa community college, earned 60 hours or more transferable college credits, or have used transfer courses to fulfill 7 of the 10 domain requirements, are exempt from the portal course. Portal courses include:

Mercy Concerns Through Film
Rogues, Rebels, And Accidental Discoveries: The Crooked Path to Creativity
Ethnic Iowans: Diversity Issues in the New Millennium
Cities, Sewers And Shots: Health Protection
Immigrants and Literacy: In Pursuit of the American Dream
Avatars Of Good and Evil: Media Stereotypes vs. Reality
Why A Mercy Education?
Poor Women, Poor Family, Poor Work
Screen Icons: A Cultural & Aesthetic Study
The Religious Roots of Political Involvement
Talking in "She" and "He": Gender Communication in College and Beyond
Water - A Shared Responsibility
Law Ungendered: History of the Legal Status of U.S. Women
Terrorism, Violence and Conflict Resolution
Perspectives on Recent Immigration to the United States
Selfie Living in a Digital Age
Environmental Responsibility
Disability Awareness
Information Literacy in the Information Age

Note: Portal course waived for RN-BSN students.


In addition to completing a Portal Course, a Capstone course and all of the Domains of Liberal Studies, students are required to demonstrate core competencies. These may be demonstrated by taking and earning at least a C- in particular courses, or a student may demonstrate competencies through previous experience and coursework. Students who think that they may be able to demonstrate a competency need to arrange assessment well in advance of beginning their Mount Mercy coursework. The competencies should be completed within a student’s first two years of college. If a student demonstrates competency and one of the course requirements listed below is therefore waived, that does not grant the student the credit hours listed. Students transferring to Mount Mercy with an AA degree from an Iowa Community College are considered to have met the competency requirements in writing, math and oral communication.

The competencies are:

1. Writing Competency: Met by successful completion of four hours of college-level English Composition: 

Writing And History
Writing And The Environment
Writing And Popular Culture
Writing and Issues of Health & Mortality
Writing And Film
Writing And Gender Studies
Writing And Social Issues
Writing And Other Cultures
Writing And Life Stories
Writing And Sports
Writing And Place

Note: The writing course is a prerequisite to the literature domain courses.

  2. Oral Communication competency: Met by successful completion of CO 101 Oral Communication.

  3. Mathematics competency: Met by successful completion of the three-hour college-level math course including:

Mathematics In Arts And Humanities
Fundamentals Of Arithmetic & Logic
Finite Mathematics
Basic Mathematical Modeling
Basic Statistics
Mathematics Modeling
Business Calculus
Calculus I

4.  Technology Competency: Met according to criteria set within the curriculum of each major.

The Mount Mercy Domains of Liberal Studies

The Mount Mercy Domains of Liberal Studies give all students in all majors a sense of breadth and connection among traditional liberal arts disciplines. These courses are grouped according to the overall concepts covered by courses in that domain: Expressive Arts, Global Awareness, Historical Roots, Holistic Health, The Natural World, Self and Society and Ultimate Questions.

Students who transfer to Mount Mercy with an AA degree from an Iowa community college will have all Domain requirements waived except one course in the Ultimate Questions domain. 

Domain Requirements

Domain I: Expressive Arts – Great works of art, music, drama, and literature engage us emotionally and cognitively as they interrogate the ways we perceive and understand ourselves and the world around us. Studying literature and the fine arts strengthens habits of mind – observation, the ability to entertain multiple perspectives and discern significant patterns; envisioning, the ability to imagine and think innovatively; reflection, the ability to evaluate one’s own perceptions; expression, the ability to communicate what is meaningful in the pursuit of purposeful living; and aesthetic judgment, the ability to appreciate the context in which fine art is created – that find application in every discipline of study.

Two courses, one from literature, one from fine arts. The courses included in this domain:

Literature courses:
Introduction to American Multicultural Literature
Introduction to U.S. Latino Literature
Introduction to African American Literature
Introduction to World Literature
Introduction To Literature
American Drama
American Literature Survey: Colonial to 1914
Major American Writers
Introduction to Literature and Gender
Introduction to LGBTQ Literature
British Literature and Culture 1
Irish Literature & Culture 1
Introduction to Film Adaptation
Fine arts courses:
Introduction To Art
Introduction To Film Studies
Introduction to Dramatic Art
Introduction To Music

Domain II: Historical Roots – The courses in this domain will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition and the relationship between historical developments and contemporary social and political trends. The curriculum provides opportunities for students to investigate the social, economic, political, and cultural development of diverse peoples from the beginnings of civilization to the present. Emphasis is placed on reading, writing, researching, speaking, and on critical and analytical thinking. The courses included in this domain include:

History of Early America
History Of Modern America
Origins Of The Western Tradition
Emergence Of The West, 800-1648
History Of Western World Since 1648

Domain III: The Natural World – Courses in this domain will give students a basic understanding of the natural world and how it functions. Students will learn to employ the scientific method as they engage with specific fields of inquiry, such as the central processes of biological systems, the energetics and chemical reactions underlying all processes in living and non-living systems, the global role of geologic, hydrologic and atmospheric systems in supporting life on earth, and the impact of human activity on the environment. Students are required to take a course and an accompanying lab, but transfer students who have earned at least six hours of approved science credits do not have to meet the lab requirement. The courses included in this domain:

Natural World Domain Laboratory *
Biology Of Human Concern
Foundations of Biology & Scientific Inquiry I
Biostatistics and Scientific Investigation I (Must be taken with BI 125 to count towards Domain)
Basic Microbiology 2
Discovering Chemistry Laboratory *
Chemistry in the Kitchen
General Chemistry I
Discovering Physics Laboratory *
Natural Science-Physical
Introduction To Earth Science

 Domain IV: Ultimate Questions This domain introduces students to the study of the ultimate questions of human experience.  It invites consideration of possible answers to those questions through philosophical or religious reflection about the existence of God, the meaning of human life, ethical responsibility, the common good, and social justice.  These courses provide significant encounters in key places with the Catholic intellectual tradition in philosophy and religious studies, including sources, fundamental questions, and developmental stages.  As liberal arts courses, they also engage students in critical analysis of ideas and symbols, and foster a variety of skills including critical thinking, finding key concepts in the midst of complex information, evaluating ideas, and communicating effectively.

Two courses, one from Philosophy, one from Religious Studies. The courses included in this domain:

Philosophy courses:
Introduction to Western Philosophy
Introduction to Philosophy of the Human Person
Introduction to Ethics
Religious Studies courses:
Christian Moral Life
Introduction To The Bible: Old Testament
Introduction To The Bible: New Testament
Introduction to Christianity
Introduction To World Religions

 Domain V: Self and Society – This domain is designed to expose students to the study of society and the manner in which people behave and impact the world around us. It introduces students to the concepts and methods of social science, the scientific inquiry into human behavior and social, political and economic problems within institutions. Students will appreciate the interconnectedness and complexity of human interaction as represented in the various social science disciplines. The courses included in this domain:

Two of the following courses from different disciplines:
Introduction To Criminal Justice
Macroeconomics Principles
Introduction to Diversity Studies
Introduction to Political Science
Introduction To American Politics
Introductory Psychology
Introduction To Sociology
Social Problems
Diversity in America

Domain VI: Global AwarenessCourses in the Global Awareness Domain address the basic question of what it means to live in a globalized world. Courses in this Domain address at least one of three areas: multicultural sensitivity as individuals come in contact with cultures that are different from their own; the interconnectedness of global political and economic policies; and an understanding of ecological and resource issues that transcends national borders.

Survey Of Mexican Culture Today
Biology And Human Culture
Intercultural Communication
British Literature and Culture 1
Irish Literature & Culture 1
European Union: Culture, Politics & Economics
Recent China In Global Economy
Modern East Asia
Latin American History
Introduction to Asian Thought
Government and Politics Around the World
Introduction to International Relations
Globalization and Human Survival
Service Learning Abroad
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Social Inequalities
Global Race Relations
Intermediate Spanish I

Domain VII: Holistic Health – Courses in this domain explore health-related theories and research and address various aspects of the six dimensions of wellness including physical, emotional, social, environmental, intellectual, and spiritual. Courses aim to increase students’ knowledge within the dimensions of wellness to enable them to enhance health-related aspects of their own lives and perhaps the lives of others. The courses included in this domain:

Personal Financial Planning
Health Awareness and PE Methods
Women's Health
Healthy Lifestyle
Complementary Therapy & Wellness
The Final Journey: Maintaining Wellness for Those Left Behind
American Food
Meditation And Its Benefits
Psychology Of Eating
Men's Health
Psychology Of Adjustment
Human Sexuality

The Mount Mercy Capstone

The 400-level Mercy Experience Capstone course (ME 450 Mercy Experience Capstone) is intended as a culminating experience in the liberal studies. Students need to register for this course along with the senior seminar (or another designated course) within their major, typically during the year in which they plan to graduate. During the Mercy Experience Capstone, students will integrate knowledge they have acquired from each of the core domains and will reflect on their Mercy education in the context of their major discipline. In addition, they will examine one of the Mercy critical concerns identified by the Sisters of Mercy from a disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and global perspective and will actively participate in a related capstone project.

Note: Students should consult accelerated/online and traditional course schedules to determine course availability and delivery format.

Transfer Credits

Developmental, remedial, vocational, test out, or experiential learning college credit is not transferable to Mount Mercy. A maximum of 63 semester hours (non-technical) from two-year, regionally-accredited, associate degree granting institutions will be accepted. (See exceptions for business department majors). There is no limit to the number of semester hours that will be accepted from a four-year, regionally-accredited institution. Credit earned at non-regionally accredited institutions may be accepted in transfer on a case by case basis. Students should complete a petition to have credit from non-regionally accredited institutions reviewed.  

Transfer courses meeting the requirements noted above and completed with a grade of D- or better will be accepted at Mount Mercy. Whether or not the D- grade counts toward the major is up to the individual department. (See department description.) Transfer course grades will be listed on the Mount Mercy transcript but will not count toward the cumulative grade point average. 

Transfer courses marked with a double grade meeting the requirements noted above will have the higher grade transferred to Mount Mercy. For example, if a grade of CD has been assigned, the higher grade, C, will be placed on the Mount Mercy transcript.

Transfer of Technical Credit

Transfer Credits Specific to BAA/BAS Degree

A maximum of 63 semester hours from regionally-accredited, postsecondary technical institutions will be transferred to Mount Mercy for students pursuing majors available under the Bachelor of Applied Arts or Bachelor of Applied Science degrees, unless otherwise designated for a specific major. A maximum of 16 semester hours from postsecondary technical courses will be transferred to Mount Mercy for students pursuing majors not available under the Bachelor of Applied Arts or Bachelor of Applied Science degrees.

* NOTE: Computer science courses taken seven or more years ago are subject to review by the department before awarding credit for a major or minor in computer science.

Iowa Community College AA Transfer Articulation

Students who transfer to Mount Mercy with an AA degree from an Iowa community college will have all Core Curriculum requirements waived except the Mercy Capstone and one course in the Ultimate Questions domain. These two requirements must be taken at Mount Mercy.

Business Department Transfer Articulation

Mount Mercy accepts a maximum of 75 semester hours from an Iowa community college for all transfers planning to pursue either a BBA degree, BAS degree, or BS degree with a major in the business area, provided that the student has completed an AA, AS/CO (Career Option) or AAS degree from an Iowa community college. This is an exception to the general policy of accepting a maximum of 63 semester hours from any community college. The courses comprising the 75 credits will count toward the total 123 semester hours required for graduation with the BBA, BAS, or BS. Iowa community college transfers into Mount Mercy’s BBA, BAS, or BS degree program will be required to meet all the graduation requirements of that degree.  

RN-BSN Transfer Articulation

Students who transfer to Mount Mercy with an ADN degree from an Iowa community college will have the following Core Curriculum requirements waived: Portal, Natural World Domain, Self & Society Domain, Writing Competency, Holistic Health Domain, Oral Communication Competency. 

College Level Examination Program

Credit may be earned by demonstrating academic achievement as measured by the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Course credit may be earned in each of the subject examinations by scoring at or above a specific score level; course credit varies in the general examinations. Information explaining the procedures and passing test scores can be obtained by contacting the Registrar’s Office.

Any Mount Mercy student or prospective student is eligible to earn up to a maximum of 60 semester hours through CLEP exams*. In those cases where CLEP scores are 10 years old or older, students must petition the Provost's Office. CLEP scores over 10 years old will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

*CLEP credits do not count against the 63 hour maximum transferable from a 2-year college.