University of Minnesota
College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs

College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs

Contact Information

Nanette Hanks
Assistant Dean for Curriculum

115 Johnston Hall
101 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

CLA Policy on Course Numbering Under Semesters

Summary of the Policy

At its meeting on November 12, 1996, the CLA Assembly adopted a policy on course numbers for semesters. A copy of the full policy considered and approved by the Assembly is attached. The major points of the policy are:

  • CLA units are constrained to use only the following levels: 1xxx, 3xxx, 4xxx, 5xxx, and 8xxx,
  • an exception is available to CLA units who have or will have Professional Master's degrees which may use the 6xxx level courses available only to post-baccalaureate students in those degree programs,
  • CLA units may schedule concurrent meeting times for 3xxx and 5xxx courses maintaining the current practice of 3/5xxx level course under conditions described in the policy statement,
  • 4/5xxx courses will not be allowed because they are unnecessary given that undergraduate students and graduate students may enroll at either level, and
  • CLA units may “recycle" numbers from quarters to semesters.

Full Policy Statement on Course Numbering

Recommended course numbering system for CLA

The central semesters conversion policy group has announced a numbering system. We recommend that CLA agree to a subset of these numbers, in order to promote consistency within the College. Specifically we recommend that CLA units be constrained to use: 1xxx, 3xxx, 4xxx, 5xxx, and 8xxx. A few units in CLA offering or proposing to offer Professional Masters degrees may use the 6xxx level for those courses that are designed for students in those programs only.

Course numbers to reflect level, not student class year

We believe that courses should be numbered to reflect their level and not the class year of the students. The proposed CLA numbering convention adds the 4xxx level and differentiates 4xxx from the 5xxx level on the basis of whether the primary intended student body is undergraduate students or graduate students. This provides useful information to students about the primary purpose of the course.

3/5xxx level courses

Some units will have the resources to implement this additional level and differentiation and should do so. Other units or programs within units will not have the necessary resources. In these latter situations we recommend the equivalent of the current 3/5xxx multiple level listing be accomplished by proposing two distinct courses, one at the 3xxx level and one at the 5xxx level. The 3xxx level course proposal must be appropriate for undergraduate students and the 5xxx level proposal must be appropriate for graduate students in both quantity and quality expectations. These two courses could then be scheduled to meet simultaneously in part at least.

5xxx level course characteristics

The 5xxx level courses must include substantial differentiating characteristics such as additional research, additional readings, or additional scheduled meetings. It should be understood that instructing these courses requires additional effort beyond instructing one or the other of them but not the effort level of instructing two courses. We recommend that 4/5xxx level courses not be allowed because the 3/5xxx level adequately meets the need.

”Recycled” course numbers

We also recommend that when a semester-based course is judged by the instructor(s) and department to be substantially the same as a quarter-based course, the semester-based course have the number of the quarter-based course.

Transcripts will clearly differentiate quarter from semester courses and all courses prior to the fall of 1999 will be quarter-based while from the fall of 1999 all courses will be semester-based. Thus, the chances of confusion from “recycling" course numbers is minimal, especially if there is continuity in numbers in those instances where the content of the course prior and subsequent to the conversion is similar.

9xxx level course numbers

We see no need at the present time to use the 9xxx level because the potential for 1000 graduate level courses does seem sufficient.

MFA thesis credit numbering

The central numbering system should be changed to provide the number 8888 for MFA thesis credits with doctoral thesis credits moved to 8999.