Basic Skills

NMSU requires all students to demonstrate basic academic competency, or "basic skills" in math and English before enrolling in courses numbered 300 or higher (regardless of whether those courses are related to math or English). You should meet these requirements as soon as possible, since many majors have only one or two lower-division courses. There are several ways to meet these requirements.

An ACT-English score of 30 or higher, SAT-English score of 16 or higher will meet the requirement. It does not, however, meet the university's composition requirement; it merely allows a student to take upper-division courses prior to taking English 111G or 111 Honors.

  •  Completion of English 111G or 111H with a grade of C or better. This is a four-credit class, but we will accept a three-credit transfer course.
  •  Advanced placement credit for English 111G. Students must score a 3, 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam. Official scores must be sent to NMSU.
  •  Foreign students who took the TOEFL exam must complete SPCD 111G with a satisfactory grade or receive credit for it based on the Michigan Test.
  • CLEP credit for English 111G. To receive credit, a student must score 57 or higher on the CLEP Subject Exam in Freshman Composition. Official scores must be sent to NMSU if the test was taken elsewhere.



  •  An ACT-math score of 23 or higher, SAT-math score of 590 or higher will meet the requirement.  It does not, however, meet the university's math requirement; it merely allows a student to take upper-division courses prior to taking a math class of Area II.  Please check with your major department for math requirement.
  •  Students with an ACT-math score of less than 23, SAT-math score of less than 590 may begin to satisfy basic skills in mathematics by earning a grade of C or higher in one of the following sequence of courses or course combinations into Area II Math/Algebra (3 Crs): (a) CCDM 112N and CCDM 113N; (b) CCDM 114N; (c) MATH 111 and MATH 121G; (d) any mathematics course numbered above Math 120. New students are placed in these courses according to their high school GPAs and their ACT or SAT scores in mathematics.  However, any new student may choose to take the MPE to test towards a higher placement.  Placement does not earn academic credit, and placement in a mathematics course numbered 120 or lower does not satisfy the basic skills requirement.
  • The math department gives a Basic Skills Exam near the beginning and end of each semester (contact the math department or the Advising Center for dates and registration deadlines). A passing score on the Basic Skills Exam will determine the basic skills placement. However, it does not appear as credit on the student's academic record.
  •  Students may receive credit for courses which may satisfy basic skills in mathematics by taking the math Advanced Placement Exam. See “Advanced Placement” later in this chapter for details.
  • Students who score 15 or below on the ACT, 380 or below on the SAT mathematics exam must pass two developmental mathematics courses, CCDM 103N and CCDM 114N, to qualify to enter university-level mathematics courses. Students who score 16 on the ACT, 440 on the SAT mathematics exam must pass CCDM 114N to qualify to enter university-level mathematics courses. Students who score 17 or higher on the ACT, 470 or higher on the SAT mathematics exam, but whose mathematics placement exam scores do not qualify them to enter university-level mathematics courses, will be placed in the appropriate CCDM course, and must pass the CCDM course or courses before enrolling in university-level mathematics courses. Developmental courses are included on the transcript and will be included in the calculation of the GPA; however, credits in developmental courses will not count toward a degree.

Second Language
Some departments in the college require a second language and some do not. For those students whose major requires a second language, the following parameters apply unless otherwise specified in their departmental requirements. A student must meet one of the following requirements.

  • Complete the normal foreign language course sequence: 111, 112, 211, 212. Students should enter the sequence at their proficiency level. Spanish speakers should complete the 113-213-214 sequence. Students who successfully complete either SPAN 113 or 213 or 214 (or all) may not take SPAN 111, 112, 211 or 212 for credit.
  •  Challenge the 212 level of French, German, Japanese, or Spanish, or the 214 level of Spanish for Heritage Speakers, or Portuguese.
  • Obtain college certification of completion of a second language at the high school level by fulfilling one of the following:

Option A: For those departments requiring one year of a second language a student must pass two years of a high school language with a C or better in the last year level.
Option B: For those departments requiring two years of a second language a student must pass three years of a high school language with a C or better in the last year level.

  • Obtain, from the head of the Department of Languages and Linguistics, certification of a working knowledge of a second language if such language is not taught at New Mexico State University.
  • Obtain certification of a working knowledge of a Native American language from the American Indian program director.
  • Successfully complete a regular university course taught in a language other than English. A student can receive credit only once for the same course taught in two languages.

Applied Credits and PE Limits
The College of Arts and Sciences may accept up to 9 credits toward graduation of applied coursework, which include Occupational Education courses, BOT, CMT, UNIV (not including UNIV 150 and UNIV 350), ART (applied), DANC (applied), MUS (applied and participation), THTR (applied), NURS, A EN, AXED, AG E, AGHE, COLL, CCDL, CCDS, all lower-division RDG. Credits earned in developmental courses (N suffix) are not counted toward any arts and sciences degree. Students should contact the dean’s office regarding the acceptability of specific courses.

In addition to the above limitation, the college will also accept a maximum of 9 credits towards graduation of applied P E and PE P courses, and ANSC 190, 191, 290, 291, 380, and 381. This restriction does not apply to PE P 185, 280, 281, 285, 286G, 295, 309, 311, 320, 341, 342, and 411.
S/U Option
Students with 28 credits at NMSU under traditional grading, with an overall average of 2.5 or better, may exercise the S/U option. The following limitations apply:
1) No more than 7 credits per semester or 4 credits per summer session.
2) Not to exceed a total of 21 semester credits.
These limitations do not apply to honors and courses officially designated S/U.
Each course under this option must be requested during registration. Eligibility must be determined by the student’s academic dean and certified by the student. The course must be taken outside the major. If the student changes majors, the new major department may require a traditional grade for a course previously passed with an S grade. The traditional grade change is made by the instructor or by a course challenge if the original instructor is no longer with the university.

Eligibility for S/U grading must be re-established after adjusted credit has been approved.

Nondegree students who do not meet the above requirements may take courses under the S/U option. However, these courses may not be applied toward an undergraduate degree at NMSU.
Graduate students in regular standing may take courses for the S/U option, outside the major department, under regulations stated in the Graduate Catalog.

Each academic college of the university may designate courses in which the grading will be on a basis of S or U for all students enrolled in the courses. Credits in such courses are not included in the 21-credit limitation or the 7-credit-per-semester limit.

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