Course Substitutions

Students may petition to substitute coursework completed within the Contra Costa Community College District and at other accredited institutions to meet DVC degree and certificate requirements. In order to initiate the process, students must submit the Petition for Course Substitution to the DVC Admissions and Records Office. Admissions and Records will forward the Petition for Course Substitution to the appropriate faculty for approval. Course substitutions are used for courses that are not equivalent in content to a program requirement.

Students are advised to meet with a counselor or program advisor to discuss the course substitution option and
to complete the petition process well before they plan 
to apply for a degree or certificate. Students may be approved to substitute a course prior to completing the course. Students petitioning to substitute coursework from outside the district must provide official transcripts from such institutions; it is not necessary to provide documentation to substitute coursework completed within the Contra Costa Community College District.

Only courses and credit from accredited institutions will be considered for application to DVC degree and certificate requirements. When courses are substituted and their unit value varies, students will not be required to “make up” missing units for DVC GE, major, and/or certificate requirements. Students are always required to complete a minimum of 18 semester units for major and general education requirements, with three semester units in each area, and 60 semester units for a degree. 

Alternatives to course credit

DVC recognizes that some students have already reached a portion of their educational objectives through prior coursework. DVC offers five options for students to receive alternatives to course credit: advanced placement, international baccalaureate, CLEP, credit by exam, and military service credit.

Units awarded under any of these four categories may not be used to meet the residency requirement for the associate degrees.

Advanced placement - for the associate degrees

Each four-­year college or university determines the amount of credit that will be given for AP examinations and how that credit may be used. Students planning to transfer should consult the catalog of the college to which they plan to transfer for information on how these examinations can be used to meet admission, general education, and major requirements.

For students planning to transfer to a University of California or California State University campus, refer to the CSU GE and IGETC charts for use of AP exam credit towards meeting these general education requirements.

Credit by exam

Students may earn credit through examinations available through DVC academic departments. These examinations are usually more comprehensive than the typical final examination for a course, and they may be prepared by national organizations.

To take these examinations students must submit a “Petition for Credit by Examination” form, available at the division offices, to the department chair at least six weeks before the end of a fall or spring term. The department chair approves or denies the petition within five days and returns the form to the student. The student submits the form and pays the course fee to the Admissions and Records Office. They will forward the form to the department chair. Arrangements for administration of the examination will be made by department faculty. The examination itself may take any appropriate form such as written, oral, portfolio, demonstration, or a combination of methods.

In addition:

  • The student should not already have taken the course or attempted an examination in the course, whether at DVC or elsewhere.
  • A maximum of 12 units toward an associate degree or six units toward a certificate may be earned
    by courses for which credit has been earned by examination.
  • Credits earned by examination cannot be used to satisfy the 12-­unit residence requirement for the associate degree.
  • The student’s academic record shall be clearly annotated to reflect that credit was earned by examination.
  • A student may only petition to take the examination once.
  • The course must not be a prerequisite for one the student has already taken or is now enrolled in.
  • The student will be charged a fee for the examination equivalent to the enrollment fee for the class.

Grading shall be according to the regular grading system. If a student passes the examination, a grade is recorded on his or her permanent record with the notation “credit by examination”. If a student fails, that failure is recorded on the permanent record and the student is not allowed to take the examination again. Substandard grades may be remediated by enrolling in the course. The petition form is retained in the student’s permanent file. 

Military service credit

Veterans may apply for evaluation of military service for credit through the Admissions and Records Office. Credit may be granted toward an associate degree for the following training and examinations:

  • Six units of elective credit for the completion of basic training and one year or more of active duty in the military service upon submission of DD­214 (separation papers) with a discharge other than dishonorable, to the Admissions and Records Office.

  • Three of the six elective units may be applied towards the fulfillment of CSU General Education requirement “E. Lifelong Understanding a Self Development.”

  • Students may earn units for training taken in armed service school. Units are determined by the “Guide to the Experiences in the Armed Services”, published by the American Council of Education.


All DVC students interested in becoming commissioned officers in the United States Air Force, Army, or Navy may register for lower-­division military science courses at UC Berkeley and have these credits applied toward a DVC’s associate degree. Credit is granted initially through UC Extension, but will be applied toward an associate degree at DVC when a transcript is received. Interested students should call UC Berkeley for more information.