Rock Valley College

Chapter 28: Course Substitutions

In some instances (ex., where a specific disability can interfere with a student’s ability to successfully complete a course), a student may request the substitution of a course as an accommodation. All course substitution requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and take into consideration a variety of factors, including: the student’s learning history, documentation substantiating the effect of the disability, the student’s future educational goals, and the importance of the course in question to the obtainment of the goals or degree desired). To substitute a course, appropriate documentation is required from a qualified professional, such as an educational diagnostician or psychologist, who addresses the functional impact of the disability on the educational environment.

Students need to be aware that the process for substitution of a course can take time. As a result, students should not wait until the last minute (ex. last semester) to accomplish this task. Core competency classes, courses that are necessary to fulfill degree or program requirements, and courses that are prerequisites for required courses typically do not qualify for consideration under this procedure. However, through an interactive process with the student and in most cases, the academic department overseeing the course in question, a determination will be made as to whether or not a course substitution is possible. In situations where a course substitution is approved, the student and the appropriate academic department will agree on an alternative course(s) to replace the credits of the class that is being substituted. The entire process should not take more than 30 days, in most cases.


Below is an outline of the process to be used by a student to substitute a required course because of a documented disability.

  1. The student with a disability must submit documentation and prepare a letter to the Director of DSS requesting a course substitution. The letter should explain:
    • How the student’s disability interferes with completion of the required course;
    • Whether or not the student has already attempted to complete the course or prerequisite courses as well as what campus resources they have used; and
    • Verification of good attendance in these courses.
  2. The DSS Director will consult with the department that is responsible for the course offering in question. The department must demonstrate whether the required course is essential for the completion of a degree, program or a certificate.  The department should essentially be able to explain what  a graduate is demonstrating/walking away with, by having met the core math requirement, and whether there are other courses that could fulfill those requirements or objectives.
  3. When necessary, a copy of the student’s letter will be shared with the appropriate Division Chair or Dean along with a statement of judgment as to whether the student is eligible for such an accommodation.