Course Substitutions

Course requirements for degrees granted by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) are designed to provide a comprehensive education in both general education and in the student’s major field of study. In awarding a degree, VCU recognizes the satisfactory completion of courses essential for the practice of the student’s chosen profession or continued field of study and research. All admitted students are regarded as “otherwise qualified” to participate in any academic program with or without reasonable accommodations. Therefore, students with disabilities are not excused from degree requirements.

In certain limited instances where a student has a disability that is so profound, it prevents their ability to meet course requirements, the student may petition for a course substitution. These requests will be evaluated on a case-by case basis. Course substitutions will only be considered if the following conditions hold true:

  1. Based on the impact of a disability, the student would be unable to complete the required course, even with appropriate accommodations and academic supports in place.
  2. Approving a substitution would not constitute a fundamental alteration to the academic program.
  3. The course is not essential to the program of study, a necessary pre-requisite for a more advanced course, or required to meet professional licensing or certification requirements.

In order to request a course substitution, a student should submit the following:

  1. Course Substitution Form – Student must complete this form (available on the SAEO website, under the section “Forms”) to initiate their request.
  2. Documentation – Submit documentation of the impairment/disability that supports the request. Appropriate documentation should meet the criteria set forth in the guidelines below.
  3. Additional materials – High school and college transcripts (including an unofficial VCU transcript) are strongly encouraged. Student may also elect to provide any additional materials related to their request.

Course Substitution Requests are reviewed periodically throughout the semester. Students who are granted course substitutions will be required to replace the substituted course with one that teaches comparable skills and/or information. Therefore, students are strongly encouraged to request course substitutions as early as possible prior to their graduation date. Exceptions will not be made for students who fail to request course substitutions well in advance of their anticipated graduation date. A copy of the committee’s decision will be emailed to the student and their academic department and will be kept in their SAEO file.

Documentation Guidelines

Documentation must be on professional letterhead, typed (or clearly legible), dated, and signed. It must be provided by an appropriately licensed professional. Documentation should include the following:

  1. Medical or clinical diagnosis of the disability/impairment.
  2. The diagnostic criteria or name of the assessment instruments used to determine the diagnosis. Psycho-educational testing is not required but strongly encouraged.
  3. Detailed description of the current functional impact of the condition or disability as it relates to the specific requirements of the course in question.
  4. Recommendation from the professional which explains the need for the accommodation as it relations to the disability/impairment.