Prerequisite Requirements for College


To ensure proper preparation upon entering college, students have to meet certain prerequisite requirements. These requirements are mandated by colleges and universities as being necessary for entry. There are no nationally stated perquisites--colleges may differ slightly depending upon state--but most institutions of higher learning follow similar guidelines.

English Requirements

  • Students need to have four English credits earned in high school. This indicates that the student achieved basic mastery of English grammar and usage in writing. Study of literature is also included in this English requirement as these two subjects are taught together. Most students will have knowledge of the major works of American and British literature when they begin college.

Math Requirements

  • Students must have four credits earned in mathematics. These credits include algebra I, algebra II, geometry and another math which can be advanced like trigonometry or calculus, or an alternative math like statistics or business math.

Science Requirements

  • Students need at least three science credits when entering college. These usually include biology I, biology II (anatomy and physiology) and chemistry. Having another credit earned in an advanced science like physics is advantageous for a student considering a major or minor in this area.

Foreign Language

  • Most colleges require that a student have at least two credits earned in a foreign language. This indicates that one language other than English has been studied for two years. The most common languages studied are Spanish, French and German. Latin is particularly helpful for students preparing for a medical profession.

Social Science

  • Students need to have at least three credits earned in social science. Subjects in this category include world and American history, geography, civics and state history. Other courses accepted for this requirement are psychology, sociology and anthropology.


  • College admittance officials prefer students who attained a well-rounded education. Colleges differ on the number of credits required in elective courses, but a variety is recommended. Some examples of elective courses are computer science, vocational education, science labs, physical education and journalism.

Testing Prerequisite Requirements

  • Most colleges require that students take the SAT or ACT. These are nationally given, standardized tests that assess one's general academic mastery. Students are tested on English, math, science and writing. Usually, colleges require a passing score for entry and a higher score for consideration of scholarships or placement in certain programs of study.

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