Course Substitution FAQ
- Who initiates a substitution request?
- How does the faculty advisor initiate a substitution request?
- What happens to the form after the faculty advisor submits it?
- What if the substitution is not approved? Is there an appeal process?
- How does the faculty advisor know if the substitution has been approved?
- How does the faculty advisor know if the substitution has been posted to the student’s record?
- When should the faculty advisor request a substitution for a student?
- Are there guidelines for appropriate substitutions?
- Can the faculty advisor substitute a higher-level course for a lower-level course?
- The student's first language is not English. How can he/she get foreign language credit?
- How can a student have credits or degrees from foreign colleges or universities evaluated?
- Is there a “shelf life” or expiration date for courses that can be used as substitutes?
- What if a student took courses at NOVA under the old quarter system (prior to Fall 1988)?
- How can quarter credits be substituted for semester credits?
- The faculty advisor has students who have a math disability or a disability that makes it difficult for them to learn a foreign language. Can the faculty advisor substitute a course in a different discipline?
Students begin the process by asking their advisor to approve a substitution, but only a faculty advisor can submit the actual form.
Using the online substitution form, the advisor must enter the student’s information, the course information and the reason for the substitution. Next, choose the dean who must approve the substitution from the drop-down menu and then submit the form.
The form is sent to the dean to approve or not. Next, the form goes to the College Records Office (CRO) and if the substitution was approved, it is posted to the student’s record.
The dean’s decision is usually final. If there is an exceptional circumstance that warrants reconsideration, the faculty advisor should make the dean aware of it.
After you submit the form, you’ll receive an email with a link to a tracking screen.
Substitutions are usually posted by the CRO within 48 hours after they are received. The faculty advisor and the student can check the student’s Degree Progress Report to view the posting in the appropriate section on the student’s record.
Substitutions are useful when a student has transferred a course to NOVA that meets one of a student’s program requirements, but is not the exact course number that NOVA requires. It may also be used for students who took courses at NOVA under the old quarter system in order for these courses to be counted toward their current program. Substitutions can also be used to apply credit from nontraditional sources such as military experience, PLACE or CLEP, that have been approved by the Credit for Prior Learning Committee.
A substitution request should not be submitted until after the student has successfully completed the course. Request the substitution as early as possible in the student’s program; the student’s choice of classes at NOVA will be driven by whether or not the substitution is approved. Do not wait until the student is ready to graduate.
A transferable course must have been taken at a regionally accredited institution. This information can be found on the back of the transcript; if in doubt, go to a college’s website to determine regional accreditation.
The faculty advisor can only substitute a course from the same academic area to meet general education requirements. For example, math cannot be substituted for foreign language. However, Psychology can be substituted for sociology since they are both social sciences.
NOTE: Some programs, such as the A.A.S. degree in Nursing, have very specific general education requirements that cannot be altered due to professional accreditation restrictions. Remember that the Teacher Education specialization must be followed exactly if articulation is to be guaranteed.
For core courses in a student’s major, such as accounting courses in the Accounting AAS degree, the faculty advisor should only substitute courses that are equivalent to required NOVA courses. For example, an accounting elective should not be substituted for AAC 211 Introduction to Accounting because ACC 211 is a core requirement for the major.
The faculty advisor can substitute nontraditional credit (such as CLEP, AP exams or DANTES tests) for NOVA courses if it has been approved for advanced standing. Consult the Credit for Prior Learning Manual.
Acceptable substitutions may vary with catalog year.
If the student graduated from a high school where the instruction is in a language other than English, the student can submit documentation of high school graduation in order to meet a foreign language requirement. Similarly, if students place directly into the 202 level of a foreign language they do not have to go back and take lower-level language courses in order to meet a requirement for two years of foreign language. In this case, it’s the immediate level of competency that’s important. Either way, the student will still have to complete additional credits to meet the overall degree requirement for number of credits earned. Faculty advisors can assist students in choosing appropriate courses to meet the student’s transfer or career goals.
To get credit for the foreign language, the student can take a CLEP or other approved test (see the Credit for Prior Learning Manual). When no CLEP is available for the language, alternate methods of assessment may be approved by the appropriate Academic Dean.