Second Language Substitution


As a liberal arts institution, UNC Asheville believes that the study of a second language is a significant element in liberal arts education, providing access to the literature and culture of another language. Furthermore, second language study introduces students to an increasingly connected global environment where bilingual proficiency provides access to intellectual inquiry otherwise inaccessible in a monolingual setting.

UNC Asheville requires each student to demonstrate competence in a second language through the first-year level or above. This can be done either through a placement exam, through completion of the appropriate level course work, or students may fulfill the foreign/second language requirement by following the university’s transfer credit policy. The university accepts most languages including American Sign Language (ASL) to fulfill this requirement.  See the UNC Asheville Catalog for additional details on these options.

UNC Asheville believes that second language study is an essential element of a student’s degree plan. If a substitution is granted, students are required to complete the second language requirement by taking cultural courses approved by Enrollment Services.


If a student desires to pursue a foreign/second language substitution, they must adhere to the following criteria:

  1. Have current documentation of a specific diagnosis of a disability and how her/his disability substantially limits the student’s ability to learn a language on file with Office of Academic Accessibility. The Office of Academic Accessibility will work with the student to determine what specific documentation is necessary.  Note: Providing documentation does not guarantee a substitution.
  2. Students will work with a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the appropriateness of the substitution request. It is highly recommended that requests for course substitutions be submitted during the student’s first semester at UNC Asheville.

Factors considered in this determination may include (but are not limited to):

  • The student’s previous history of second language study. A substitution or exemption in high school does not guarantee a substitution at UNC Asheville.
  • Psychological/learning test results
  • The student’s good-faith effort in college-level language study. A student’s good faith is determined by progress in the course, attendance, communication with the professor and the Office of Academic Accessibility, and use of additional resources such as tutoring, office hours and classroom accommodations. If after a student’s consistent effort she or he is failing the course near the withdraw deadline, the student will withdraw from the course and work with the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the next step. If a student is passing the course with a “C” or better, the student is expected to finish the course. It is the student’s responsibility to keep the Office of Academic Accessibility informed of her/his progress in the course.
  • Other mitigating factors as determined by a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility.

Once the criteria has been met and if a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility deems the request appropriate, the Office of Academic Accessibility will present the student’s case to Enrollment Services.  There is no guarantee that the committee will approve a substitution request.

The decision of Enrollment Services is final. Before a second request will be considered by the committee, students must provide new evidence and work with the Office of Academic Accessibility.

If the request is deemed inappropriate or the criteria for a substitution are not met, the student must continue to meet the UNC Asheville foreign/second language requirement. With the help of the Office of Academic Accessibility, a student may attempt to gather new or additional information to support the substitution, or consider new strategies intended to help support them in this subject matter.