What is a Prerequisite?

Refers to a specific class that must be finished prior to a student being able to register for the next level of courses, which are usually a build-up from the previously finished one and often harder. Prerequisites are a method of ensuring that students enter into a subject or course with some prior knowledge. This helps the professor to teach at a particular academic level and students to feel more confident and comfortable with the subject matter.

Many universities and colleges set prerequisites for graduation that may include courses not related to a student’s minor or major. The key objective is to provide students with a well-rounded education. Examples of typical classes that have to be completed before graduation include physical education activities, writing-intensive courses, and cultural diversity electives.

Usually, students can find prerequisites for each course in the course description in the course catalog. The information is also often available on schools’ websites. Students may ask the course professor, as well as the administrative assistant in the department, to learn about prerequisites. For an advanced degree program, prerequisites can be found typically under degree requirements. Professional degree programs usually have viewbooks and brochures, and students can find the prerequisites for admission in the material for prospective students.

There’re also exceptions to prerequisite requirements. A prerequisite may mention ‘ACCT 100 or equivalent.’ Non-traditional or transfer students who feel they’ve already attained in-depth knowledge of accounting basics either through professional experience or at another institution may visit the department’s main office to learn about the options. After careful review, the department may waive prerequisites for students who believe they took a class at another institution that’s the course equivalency of the prerequisite. Or, students may be provided with an opportunity to take a prerequisite exam to test out the course they’d like to skip. If a student gets a satisfactory score, they may be exempted from taking the prerequisite they are lacking.

Prerequisites are found in a significant number of subjects but most frequently at the advanced level. For instance, students planning to join advanced English literature courses may need to have taken sophomore-level courses. Science courses often have prerequisites due to the large amount of complex information that has to be satisfactorily learned before advanced study. Moreover, students have to obtain a passing grade or higher in a prerequisite course. Students who don’t pass the prerequisite course may retake it according to the course repeat policy of their school.

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