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What Are the Different Types of Course Requirements?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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Specific course requirements will greatly vary depending on the topic of the course, and the level at which it is being offered; for instance, a 100- or 200-level, three-credit undergraduate course will have very different requirements than a 500- or 600-level, four-credit graduate course. Nonetheless, there are still some general commonalities. Students will likely be required to attend class and be allowed to miss no more one or two days, for example. They will also be required to complete assignments as specified, on time, and to obtain a passing grade on these assignments as well as tests and quizzes. Some classes may include additional course requirements in a certain number of lab or field hours.

Certain course requirements are established before a student is even eligible to take a class. These are known as prerequisites. For example, a student may need to take an entry-level math course, or a series of courses, before he or she is eligible to take an upper-level math course. This is to ensure that students have the foundational knowledge required to be successful in a class. Certain universities offer students the option to test out of certain prerequisite courses if they can display sufficient knowledge in a subject, or even just acquire special permission from the professor.

Most other types of course requirements will be specific to the courses themselves, and defined by the instructor as the minimum that must be done in order to pass the class. Many instructors will restrict the number of allowable absences, for example; students who miss more than three days might automatically fail the course. Some instructors don't allow students to miss more than one. In addition to attendance requirements, students are often required to participate. They may not come to class and sit silently, but must be prepared to ask and answer questions, and be active learners.

Assignments and tests typically make up the remainder of most course requirements. Students will need to complete their assigned reading, turn in written assignments or projects on time, and obtain a passing grade on quizzes and tests that are given. Some courses require students to spend time in the lab or collecting data in the field, which will also be required to pass the course. In nearly all cases, course requirements will be specified at the beginning of the class and written out in the syllabus that is often distributed on the first day. This allows students to plan ahead, and know what they need to do to pass.

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