I’m a master's student with soon to be 32 credit hours of the 36 needed to graduate.

My university is suddenly not offering one of the last two courses I need to graduate. It was supposed to offered in Fall 2022 but it’s instead going to be offered in Fall 2023.

At least five of us are set to graduate in Fall 2022 but can't without this class. In my bioinformatics program, the required courses can be few and far between in terms of finding similar courses at different universities, thanks to the extra subjects included in my university’s version of most courses.

I talked to the dean, who spoke with the head of the department, and they’re telling me to speak with my advisor, but they know less than other people I’ve spoken with.

Are universities allowed to delay our graduation for a full year like this? It’s very frustrating. What options do I have for a timely graduation?

  • 1
    After your edit the question is more appropriate, but is still in the "needs more focus" category. Apr 9, 2022 at 18:57
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    Are you sure this isn't just a course that's only offered every two years? In that case they probably should have alerted you but then it would have been your responsibility to take it last year.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 9, 2022 at 19:13
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    Chelsea, sorry to hear about this. I'm sure it's frustrating for you, but I edited the tone of your post down a little as I fear it's part of the reason it's attracting close and down votes (I think it's a perfectly clear, on-topic question). I hope you're able to work something out. Apr 10, 2022 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


Since you've already talked to the dean and head of department, keep following up with them. The dean, at least, probably has the power to make exceptions, but wants your advisor involved. Maybe a four way conversation is needed. But substituting another course is a common solution.

Another option that is open in some places is to do an independent study with some professor on a "relevant" topic, perhaps not the one that isn't being offered. A small research project with a professor might be especially valuable. But the dean, most likely, needs to sign off on it.

If there are five or so of you, then you might get together and propose a substitute that will advance your careers. Again, talk to the people with authority, including your advisor(s).

I doubt they will make you wait a year. They want happy graduates.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – cag51
    Apr 10, 2022 at 19:45

To expand somewhat on @Buffy's very good answer, I will say that every year there are things like this that happen. Unless you somehow got out of sync with a cohort-based program (which it doesn't sound like you did) you should continue to work with your advisor, chair and Dean to come up with a way to get the credits. Some suggestions are:

  • Tutorial for the 5 of you. (I'm in the US and my institution has a way of calculating faculty hours for this.)
  • Substitute another course in your program.
  • Substitute a course in another department that has some overlapping content. For example, maybe if it is a project management class that could be done in the business program.
  • Potentially do a course at another institution. You don't say where you are located, but you could look at relatively near by institutions. In the US often there are relationships between institutions that simplify this. Also with the expansion of online programs you might be able to do an online course in a different program.

The main thing is that, without being a pain, keep working on it and coming up with ideas. Ask other faculty for ideas too, including whoever normally teaches that course. Time to graduation is actually an important outcome measure for all programs and delaying a year also has an impact on your short term earnings.

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    Very nice answer, +1. Although, I wouldn't worry about being a pain -- keep complaining until there's a solution. The cost is not just short term earnings lost but potentially more student debt that would be accumulated.
    – Andrew
    Apr 10, 2022 at 15:57
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    Really, don't be a pain is important. Don't email every day, don't whine. Go in with a collaborative approach. All of these people deal with student issues every day, believe me there are real disadvantages to being someone who people see as a headache.
    – Elin
    Apr 10, 2022 at 16:15
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    Yeah I probably should have clarified. I agree, emailing every day or whining is bad, and framing it as working with the administration is best. But also, don't worry about being assertive and advocating for yourself. There should be a solution for this that can be found.
    – Andrew
    Apr 10, 2022 at 16:23
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    +1 for 'Potentially do a course at another institution', I've done this. a few hoops to jump through to justify it but it's definitely a thing, and the OP's reason is perfectly valid, especially since she isn't the only one. Apr 10, 2022 at 23:51

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