Procedure Name:
Course Substitutions

Dr. Susan Paris
Vice President, Academics and Guided Career Pathways/
Chief Academic Officer

Academics and Guided Career Pathways

Effective Date:
July 2014; August 30, 2019 (Revision)

Next Review Date:




Academic deans at Durham Technical Community College (Durham Tech) have the authority to substitute a course if it brings similar value to the program of study. Substitutions are distinctly separate from teach-out plans (consult the Curriculum Course/Program Termination procedure for more information). Deans and program directors should review plans of study regularly to ensure they reflect current offerings and scheduling practices to avoid excessive substitutions.

Federal guidelines do not allow the College to waive a required course, but from time to time, it may be necessary to substitute a course of equal value and classification to facilitate the completion of a student’s program of study. Students must still meet the total credit requirements for the academic program. Students who seek a required course substitution should contact their program director or academic dean.


A course substitution allows a student to use an alternate course to meet program requirements. Only one (1) course may be substituted in a certificate or diploma and a maximum of three (3) courses may be substituted per degree program. Students who are granted a substitution must still meet the required total credit hours for their program of study, and minimum course grades must be met.

General education courses may be substituted at the discretion of the program director/dean, with approval from the Vice President, Academics and Guided Career Pathways/Chief Academic Officer. The alternative general education course must be allowable per the curriculum standard and general education matrix and must be at the same level or higher (i.e., 110-189 level courses for alternative 110-189, 210-289, etc. level courses).

The core curriculum for any program of study should be maintained with integrity and followed completely. The substituted course (when approved) must include substantially the same learning outcomes (two-thirds) as the required course and must be within the same discipline as the original course, or fulfill similar course distribution requirements as defined by the curriculum standard. Substitutions to the core curriculum should only be used in extenuating circumstances.

The process for requesting a course substitution is as follows:

  1. A student will consult with an academic advisor, faculty member, program director, or graduation auditor to discuss whether a course substitution should be considered.

  2. The program director or department chair will initiate a course substitution request, which will be sent to the academic dean of the appropriate department (if not their own) for approval. The request should include the student's name, ID number, program, year of entry into the program (catalog year), course to substitute, and a rationale for the request. Course substitutions should only be recommended after the course has been completed.

  3. If the academic dean deems the substitution appropriate, the dean will approve the substitution and send it to the Vice President, Academics and Guided Career Pathways/Chief Academic Officer, copying the original program director or department chair, and advisor as appropriate. Once the Vice President, Academics and Guided Career Pathways/Chief Academic Officer has reviewed and approved or denied the request, they will send the paperwork to Admissions, Registration, and Records, again copying appropriate personnel, including the director of Curriculum Support and Development. This approach will serve as a check and balance and will allow Academics and Guided Career Pathways to determine whether the substitution should be added to the standard course substitution list to reduce future redundancy.
  4. To ensure the student has a clear path to graduation, course substitutions will be applied to the student’s record upon approval.
  5. Admissions, Registration, and Records will enter the substitution in the student’s record and will notify the student.