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The petition process outlined below is an application to be granted a substitution for the Foreign Language (FL) general education requirement or the Quantitative (QR and QI) general education requirements through the use of an approved list of substitute courses.

If you are a senior or transfer student and you took a course that did not fulfill a specific General Education requirement, but you feel it meets the criteria for that requirement, you may be eligible to submit a general education course petition, which is a process to substitute a single course for a specific requirement.  If you are unsure which process applies to your situation, please contact us for advice.

Procedure for Requesting a Foreign Language and/or Quantitative Course Substitution

The following information describes the procedure to follow to request a substitution to meet the General Education requirements in Foreign Language and/or Quantitative for degree completion.  There is no such procedure to exempt a student from meeting the Foreign Language and/or Quantitative requirements for specific Majors.

  1. Which office on campus oversees the course substitution request process?
  • The Office of Undergraduate Curricula oversees the course substitution request process
  • The Office of Undergraduate Curricula’s Associate Dean, James Thompson, is the contact person for questions about this process.
  • Phone: (919) 843-7773
  • Address:  3018A Steele Building, CB# 3504
  1. Who may request a course substitution for the Foreign Language and/or Quantitative requirements in The College of Arts and Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill?
  • Any student who has experienced “significant difficulties”* in these classes at UNC or at a previous institution may request a substitution for the FL or QR and QI general education requirements by personally completing the substitution request form.

*Significant difficulties is defined as “being unable to acquire the course content in spite of exerting considerable effort and using resources to overcome the problem.”

  1. How does a student  submit a petition to request a course substitution?
  • For a petition to be reviewed the student must fully complete the substitution request form, which includes all the information below.
  • Requests without this information will be returned to the student requesting the missing information.


Step 1.  Demographic Information: (all fields required)

  • Full Name
  • PID Number
  • Year at UNC
  • E-mail Address
  • Which substitution you are requesting (Foreign Language or Quantitative)

Step 2:  A detailed history of your experience taking Foreign Language or Quantitative courses that includes the following for each course attempted: (all fields required)

A brief explanation of why you are requesting this substitution

What foreign language experience you have from high school (for FL requests only).

What, if any, placement tests/exams you have taken at UNC and your placement results.

Also provide the information below for at least one previous course (up to 6 can be entered in the form; additional courses can be provided as attachments)

  • Institution Where Course was Taken
  • Year and Semester/Term course was taken
  • Course Name/Number/Section
  • Course instructor/professor’s name/email
  • Specific examples of problems experienced (in and out of class)
  • Grades received (Final grade required for completed courses. Include test, quiz and other grades if available.)
  • Strategies and resources used

Step 3. Provide supporting documentation from a 3rd party that verifies the above information. This includes:

  1. Required: A statement from the professor/instructor in the most recently attempted course/s.  A guide for professors/instructors writing such letters can be found here.  If you are unable to obtain a letter from a previous professor or instructor, please reach out to Dean Thompson to discuss the particulars of your situation prior to completing the application.
  2. When appropriate:
    1. A statement from Learning Center staff, tutors, academic coaches, CAPS counselors, or ARS staff who worked with you during your attempt to succeed in the above course/s
    2. If you experienced similar problems at a previous institution or during high school, letters from professors, teachers, tutors, learning coaches or specialists.
    3. Copies of graded work that demonstrates student’s “significant difficulties.”
  • When appropriate: Reports or letters from professionals outside of the university:
    1. Recommended if a disability or mental health concern exists that directly impacts the student’s performance in a Foreign Language/Quantitative class.
    2. Information helpful for any professional providing a letter to the committee can be found here.


  1. When are requests for a course substitution reviewed?

Petitions may be submitted at any time.  The Course Substitution Committee will meet on at least three occasions in both the Fall and Spring Semesters. Upon receipt of a substitution petition, the student will be advised when the next meeting will be taking place.

  1. How is a request for a course substitution reviewed?

There is a Course Substitution Review Committee that is made up of representatives from the Office of Undergraduate Curricula, Accessibility Resources and Service, The Learning Center and faculty from Foreign Language and Mathematics Departments.  The members determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the request for a course substitution. The student is notified via email about the decision.  When a request is denied suggestions may be made for the student to submit additional evidence.

  1. What happens if the request for a course substitution is approved?

The Associate Dean of the Office of Undergraduate Curricula:

  • Provides the student with a list of approved courses that can be substituted for meeting the degree requirements for a Foreign Language and/or Quantitative and asks the student to meet with an Academic Advisor.
  • Notifies the Academic Advising office of the student’s approval to be included in the student’s record
  1. What is the process of appealing a Course Substitution Committee decision?

If a student’s request is denied and they disagree, they can:

  1. Meet with Associate Dean James Thompson to discuss their petition.
  2. Submit additional supporting materials, upon acceptance of which the committee will reevaluate the student’s petition.
  1. What courses can be used to substitute and can they count toward other General Education requirements?
  • Students will receive the list of approved substitution courses with their approval letter.  The current list can also be viewed and downloaded as PDFs from the University Catalog here, and archived lists can be found here.
  • The approval letter will also stipulate how many courses the student needs to take.  Students will need to take two quantitative courses.  Students take 1-3 foreign language substitution courses depending on prior course and placement credit.
  • Substitution courses fall under the same rules as other courses that apply toward a General Education requirement.  The below chart explains how courses are counted.  When a student is approved they will receive information specific to their situation regarding where substitution courses can count.  If students have questions they can contact the Office of Undergraduate Curricula or the Course Substitution Committee for clarification.