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Prerequisites, Corequisites, and Recommended Preparation

A prerequisite is a course or other body of knowledge that enhances a student’s chance of success in another course. Without it, a student is highly unlikely to be successful in the course for which the prerequisite is required. 

Some courses at College of San Mateo have prerequisites, which is a specific level of preparation that students must have before enrolling in a course. In order to register for a class with prerequisites, students will need to satisfy its prerequisites before their assigned registration date. Students can satisfy prerequisites by successfully completing a course or placing into the course via Math/English assessment.

If students satisfy the prerequisite through a course completed in the San Mateo Community College District, the prerequisite will automatically be cleared. But, if the students satisfied the prerequisite elsewhere, they will need to submit a prerequisite equivalency request.

Prerequisite Clearances are not automatic for:

  • Courses that you completed at another institution.
  • Placement into English/Math based using Early Assessment Program (EAP) exam results.
  • Placement into English/Math based using high school coursework not previously provided.

The San Mateo County Community College District enforces all course prerequisites that have been approved and are listed in the Catalog and Schedule of Classes.

Computerized Prerequisite Checking

Many courses with prerequisites requirements are subject to computerized prerequisite checking. Registration is blocked for students who do not meet prerequisite and/or co-requisite requirements. For more information, see Prerequisite FAQs (below).

Prerequisite Information & Forms

To see if a course has a prerequisite:

  1. Go to WebSCHEDULE.
  2. When you find a course of interest, click on the course title.
  3. View the course description and look to see if the course has a prerequisite. 

Once you've verified that you meet the prerequisites, please submit a Course Prerequisite Equivalency Form.

The following courses require a different process for clearing prerequisites:

Chinese courses (all courses except CHIN 111 & CHIN 211)

Spanish courses (all courses except SPAN 110 & SPAN 111)

Music courses

  • To clear prerequisites for Music 111 and 131, complete a short assessment of basic music skills. Stop by the Assessment Center (Building 10, Room 370) or call (650) 574-6175 to schedule the test.
  • For all other music courses with prerequisites, see Prerequisites, Corequisites and Recommended Preparation and complete either a course prerequisite form or challenge petition.

Fire Technology

Administration of Justice courses (ADMJ 145, ADMJ 775, ADMJ 780, ADMJ 781)

If you've satisfied the prerequisites for courses offered at College of San Mateo at another college, please submit your unofficial transcript and the Prerequisite Equivalency Form.

You must have completed the equivalent prerequisite course with a C or higher. Grades of C- are not accepted.

Students can submit their Prerequisite Equivalency Form and supporting documents in any of the following ways:

  • In-person: CSM Welcome Center/Assessment Services, College Center (Bldg. 10-370), 3rd Floor
  • Email: csmprereq@smccd.edu (attach supporting documentation)
  • Fax: (650) 574-6108
You will be notified by email of the outcome of the request. Incomplete packets are automatically denied. If you think you meet the prerequisite not through a course but through life or work experience, complete the Prerequisite Challenge Petition process. 

Please Note: Choose one method of submission; multiple submissions may delay your request. 

Is there a special prerequisite equivalency form for foreign language courses?
Yes. There is a specific form, Prerequisite Equivalency Form for Modern Languages, for foreign language courses with prerequisites. This list of courses includes Chinese and Spanish.

Prerequisite Challenge Petition and Process

A prerequisite or corequisite can be challenged only on one or more of the following grounds:

  • The student has the knowledge or ability to succeed in the course despite not meeting the prerequisite.
  • The prerequisite or corequisite was established in violation of district policies or Title 5 regulations.
  • The prerequisite or corequisite is unlawfully discriminatory or applied in an unlawful or discriminatory manner.
  • The prerequisite or corequisite has not been made reasonably available and the student is subject to undue delay in goal attainment.

To challenge a prerequisite, you must do the following:

  1. Fill out the Prerequisite Challenge Form.
  2. Compose a formal letter explaining the reason you are challenging the prerequisite or corequisite. This letter must accompany all petitions. Include in the letter a detailed description of how you meet the prerequisite requirement.
  3. Attach supporting documentation which can include the following:
    • College transcripts (or high school) as evidence of successful course completion
    • Catalog course description
    • Course outline and/or course syllabus
    • Documentation of professional work experience
    • Letters of recommendation from employers or instructors
    • Samples of graded papers
    • Professional licenses or certificates
  4. Note: It is the responsibility of the student to provide compelling evidence to support the challenge.

  5. Submit your Prerequisite Challenge Packet to the Welcome Center/ Assessment Services at least five (5) working days prior to the published last day to register. You may submit your challenge packet in any of the following ways:
    • In-person: CSM Welcome Center/Assessment Services, College Center (Bldg. 10-370), 3rd Floor
    • Email: csmprereq@smccd.edu (attach supporting documentation)
    • Fax: (650) 574-6108
Choose one method for submission; multiple submissions will delay your request. 

Prerequisite challenges are reviewed and decided upon by CSM faculty, not Assessment Services.

Assessment Services can advise you of additional challenge process requirements that may include a portfolio (i.e. English and Literature courses) or a demonstration of prerequisite skills. For more information about this process, please call (650) 574-6187.
 
What happens if my prerequisite challenge petition is not approved?
If the prerequisite challenge petition is denied, the student is notified via email. The student will not be able to enroll in the course. For English, ESL, Reading and Mathematics courses the student is directed to complete a CSM Placement Test to determine course placement level.

Is there a special prerequisite equivalency form for foreign language courses and for music courses?
Yes. There is a specific form, Prerequisite Equivalency Form for Modern Languages, for foreign language courses with prerequisites. This list of courses includes Chinese and Spanish. 

To clear Prerequisites for Music 111 and 131, complete a short assessment of basic music skills. Stop by the Welcome Center/ Assessment Services in Building 10, Room 370 or call (650) 574-6175 to schedule a testing time.
View all Prerequisite forms

Prerequisite FAQs

A prerequisite is a condition of enrollment that students are required to meet to demonstrate readiness for enrollment in a course or program. As an example, students must successfully complete elementary algebra (Math 110), prior to enrolling in intermediate algebra (Math 120). So, Math 110 is a prerequisite for Math 120. A prerequisite course must be completed successfully to enroll in the course which follows. Successful completion is defined as earning a grade of “C” or better. A completed assessment can also be used to meet prerequisite skill levels.

A corequisite is a course that a student is required to take simultaneously in order to enroll in another course. Corequisites are designated in course descriptions in the class schedule and college catalog.

Recommended preparation for a course or program is a condition that a student is advised, but not required, to meet before enrollment.
If a student is currently enrolled in the prerequisite course(s) at Canada College, College of San Mateo, or Skyline College, the computer will not block his/her enrollment in the next course. However, if a student receives a final grade other than A, B, C, or CR in the prerequisite course(s), when the final grades are posted, he/she will be dropped from the course. Students are advised to see a counselor for further assistance with enrollment.
Students must submit a Course Prerequisite Equivalency Form and an unofficial transcript which shows successful completion ("C" or better) of the equivalent prerequisite course. Courses that are "in progress" outside of the district cannot be used to satisfy prerequisites.
No. However, students who have completed assessment may be eligible for certain courses based on their initial placement. Learn more on the Prerequisites Challenge Form page.
No. The purpose of prerequisite enforcement is to make sure all students have the necessary background to be successful in the course. An instructor’s signature will not override the prerequisite requirement for the course. Even if an instructor issues an authorization code, the student may not enroll in the course if he/she does not meet the course prerequisite requirement.