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Substitute courses a viable option for dead major requirements

(Andrea Grigsby/Illustrations Director)

By Megan Son

June 9, 2019 10:25 p.m.

Some students are taking substitute classes to complete their degrees because some required courses have not been offered in multiple quarters.

Students in linguistics and other majors said they have to work with their department advisors to find substitutes for classes that are not offered in order to fulfill their requirements.

Linguistics students that choose to combine basic courses in the major with a language concentration or other related fields may have difficulty enrolling in course requirements because some required courses are only offered outside of the linguistics department, said UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

Vazquez said the linguistics department has no control over the faculty hired or courses offered in other departments, and other departments may choose not to offer linguistics course requirements, but linguistics advisors have been able to work with all students who are unable to enroll in required courses.

Eric Wells, administrative analyst for the UCLA Academic Senate, a senate composed of faculty and student representatives responsible for reviewing degree programs, said departments may choose to keep a course as part of their major requirements even if it has not been offered for multiple quarters or years if they feel it is an important course for students within the major to take.

Max Nath, a linguistics and psychology student who graduated in 2018, said he was unable to enroll in his final course requirement, an upper division psychology course, because it was prioritized for cognitive science students. Instead, he worked with a linguistic advisor to substitute an upper division linguistics course to complete his degree.

“It was definitely a stressful experience where you’re thinking, ‘Am I not going to graduate?’” Nath said.

Wells said most course requirements that have not been offered for extended periods of time are electives that can easily be substituted with other elective courses.

Students facing this issue can work with their department advisors to find alternative courses that, while not on the course requirement list, can still fulfill their requirements and allow them to obtain their degrees, said Jacquelyn Perez, the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer in the Department of Linguistics.

“There’s always flexibility,” Perez said.

A review of each degree program takes place every eight years and takes three years to complete, Wells said.

During the review process, the Academic Senate might suggest a program revise its catalog of classes or hire more faculty, Wells added.

Evan Davis-Palley, a linguistics and computer science student who graduated in 2018, said one of his required math and linguistics courses, which was also a prerequisite for a computational linguistics course, had been cancelled indefinitely. He spoke with a linguistics counselor and was able to enroll in the computational linguistics course without the prerequisite.

“The linguistics counselor was always really helpful in figuring out what we were going to do,” Davis-Palley said.

Vasquez said undergraduate academic counselors see very few students with this problem as most students are aware they should work with their departments to find suitable alternatives.

Wells said students’ degrees are completely valid as long as substitute courses are approved by department advisors, and said the course substitutes can be compared to community college course credit and Advanced Placement credit which transfer to UCLA.

“The department is the one making the exception and basically certifying that our students have these skills,” Wells said.

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