Ask an Advisor - What is a Prerequisite?


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Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Ask an Advisor - What is a Prerequisite?

As an advisor I am often asked, “What is a prerequisite?” Both academic programs and courses can have prerequisites. A prerequisite by definition is something that needs to be done prior to another action being taken. In higher education, the meaning is used to define a prior requirement needed to gain entry to a specific course or program. You might also see the wording “corequisites,” meaning that you can take requirements concurrently or at the same time.

For example, say you need General Chemistry with a Lab - CHM151 and CHM151LL.

The prerequisite for CHM151 states:
“Prerequisites: C or better in [(CHM130 and CHM130LL), or CHM130AA, or 1 yr high school chemistry taken in last 5 yrs] and (C or better in MAT151 or higher level math course, or satisfactory placement), or permission of Instructor/Department/Division Chair”

The prerequisites for CHM151LL states:
"Prerequisites: A grade of C or better in CHM150 or CHM151 or Corequisites: CHM150 or CHM151"

Now, let’s say you lack the foundations because you’ve never had to take a chemistry course in your life or maybe it’s been over several years and your previous course has expired to meet the prerequisites. At this point, you would need to take Fundamental Chemistry with a Lab - CHM130 and  CHM130LL. You would also either have to take or have taken MAT151 or the mathematics placement test.

At this point, you could take the  Placement Test through Maricopa Edready to satisfy the math prerequisites (and any reading prerequisites). Or you may have prior college or university courses that will meet your prerequisites. If that’s the case, you can request to have official transcripts sent to Rio Salado or provide official copies you have to Admissions, Records, and Registration.

The purpose of a prerequisite is to build your knowledge as you progress through your program. Often the knowledge from a previous course is needed for success in a higher level course. Prerequisites provide you with a strong foundation to build upon. Start planning for your prerequisites and required classes now so you can stay on track to complete your program. Review the Class Schedule to become aware of prerequisites you need prior to signing up for courses. If you have additional questions, please contact your Academic Advisor or the Academic Advisement Team by email at or by phone at (480) 517-8580: Monday - Friday.

Your advisor can also help you set up an academic plan with a list of all of the courses needed to reach your goal.

Loren Brock is an advisor for our Military Advisement Team at Rio Salado College. She can be reached at