Curriculum Services

Course Renumbering


November 24, 2003

M E M O R A N D U M AAO 03-08

Academic Departments and Colleges

Scott McNall, Provost and Interim President

Course Renumbering Guidelines

These comprehensive instructions are intended to help us move toward implementation of the recently promulgated EM 08-25, Course Numbering Policy. These changes will take effect with The 2005-2007 University Catalog. If you have observations or questions, please address them to Deborah Kuechel, Academic Publications/Facilities/Data.

The new numbering policy expands the range of numbers used for course numbering and adds logic to the numbering scheme which should be of assistance to students and to the staff, faculty, parents, and others who attempt to make sense of our numbering system as they help students plan their academic careers. It also eliminates the multiple meanings that the suffix (appended to the course number) can have.

Academic departments are encouraged to take advantage of the next three months to maximize this renumbering opportunity for their programs. Some numbering conventions will be standard across campus, but within each department the sequencing of courses should be whatever best meets the department’s needs and the needs of other programs that use the department’s courses.


Departments will have until March 1, 2004 to renumber their courses. Several days after March 1, the renumberings for the entire campus will be made available on the Web and departments will have an additional month to review the renumberings of other programs to ensure that courses from outside their department fit as well as possible into their curriculum.

Because there is such a large body of work which needs to be accomplished by the end of the summer, all course renumberings must be finalized by April 9, 2004. This completion date is imperative. From this date forward, offices across campus will be revising numberings, which includes the complete revision of course numbers in the University Catalog and the Course Inventory as well as the articulation database, the Major Academic Plans (MAP), and within department-maintained files.

The Department Renumbering column needs to be filled in and the spreadsheet returned to APO, Zip 045, by March 1, 2004. Returning the spreadsheet via e-mail to Deborah Kuechel is preferred. If you are canceling courses or making other kinds of changes to a course, you must submit a CPCR form.

Course Renumbering -- The Overall Process

Departments are encouraged to review their course numberings thoroughly and consider how this new numbering scheme might be used to help convey the order in which students should be taking courses.

Helpful Resources

You have several tools to help you with renumbering. One important tool is your department’s Major Academic Plans (MAP; formerly, 4-Year Plans). 

The plans identify the order in which courses should be taken and the year a student would typically be taking the course. Those courses you have identified in your Plan as courses to be taken in the first year should generally be numbered in the 100s. Courses which your Plan identifies as second year courses should be numbered in the 200s, third-year courses in the 300s and fourth-year courses in the 400s. Courses for graduate students only should be numbered in the 600s.

Another invaluable tool available to you, and the only document you will need to submit for renumbering, is a spreadsheet that lists all the courses you currently have slated for offering in Fall 2005. To access this document, go to the Web page linked below and generate a listing of the courses valid for your department for Fall 2005.

Staff in both Academic Advising Programs and in Publications, Facilities and Database Services (APO) will be pleased to assist departments with renumbering.

General Renumbering Guidelines

General Education

All courses in the General Education Program will be numbered at levels 100-399, i.e., Core courses will normally be numbered at level 100-199 but may be numbered at level 200-299 for courses designed for second-year students; Breadth courses will normally be numbered at levels 100-299, but may be numbered at level 300-399 for courses designed for third-year students; Upper-Division Theme courses will be numbered at level 300-399; non-GE cultural diversity courses will be numbered at levels 100-399. Other protocols for course numbering also apply to courses within the General Education program.

Number Groupings

You might want to consider reserving sequences of numbers for courses at the different class levels if your curriculum lends itself to such a concept. For example, if courses are logically grouped into periods of time, or areas of specialization you might want to use ranges of numbers for different time periods or different areas. If we had a major that dealt with the study of food groups, we might want to use numbers 100–110, 200-210, 300-310 and 400-410 for courses on the vegetable food group. Numbers 120-129, 220-229, 320-329, 420-429 might be used for the dairy food group and so on. It is recommended that you leave gaps in numbering for insertion of courses that will be added to the curriculum in the future. So you might use 100, 101, 102, 103, 106, 107, 108 and leave 104, 105, 109, 110 for future vegetable courses.


In order for a course to be considered for articulation with a community college course it must be lower division. The current numbering system sometimes forced the numbering of a course in the upper-division 100-range because that course was not appropriately numbered in the 1-99 range.

With the new numbering scheme, a course can be numbered in the 200-299 range and still be a lower-division course. Consequently some courses currently numbered in the 100 range which require no prerequisites and are typically taken by sophomores might be candidates for articulation if the department assigns the course a number in the 200-range. This is entirely up to the department to determine.

Leaving room for growth

It is recommended that departments leave gaps in their numberings so that courses developed in the future can be appropriately inserted into existing numbering schemes. Once we have completed the renumbering, we will generally not re-use course numbers of abandoned courses within a five-year period.


Prerequisite courses should have a lower number than the course requiring the prerequisite.

If a course prerequisite is from another department this may require some consultation with the other department depending on how it plans to renumber the prerequisite course.

Cross-Listed Courses

It is strongly recommended that the number on cross-listed courses be the same. For example, PSSC 100 and INST 105 (Food Forever) are currently cross-listed partners. Because they truly are the same course with the same title, units, description information, it is more coherent and congruent that the numbers would also be the same. This will require consultation between departments.

Current cross-listed partners involving courses of differing levels (i.e., MUS 005A, 205A, 305A, POLS 055/155) cannot be set up as cross lists in PeopleSoft because a course can have only one class level. These multi-level cross-listed courses will have to be set up as separate courses but PeopleSoft does offer us other mechanisms for grouping these courses so that appropriate repeat rules can be established and all can be identified as equivalent prerequisites.

Use of the Suffix to Identify Variable-Unit Courses

We will no longer use the suffix to indicate variable units. If you offer variable-unit course sequences other than the campus-wide sequences mentioned below, you will need to drop the suffixes on those courses.

The implementation of course renumbering coincides with the go-live of CMS and PeopleSoft. Once we switch to PeopleSoft in Fall 2005 we will follow a different process for registering students for variable unit courses.

For example, instead of creating an ENGL 199A, ENGL 199B, and ENGL 199C for each faculty, the department will create only one section of ENGL 199 for each faculty who will be working with students doing Special Problems. When a student registers for Special Problems units, the department will assign the appropriate number of units directly on the student’s record. Faculty/advisors working with the student will be able to see the number of units the student has been assigned for any variable-unit course. Students will also be able to see this on their study lists.

The set of campus wide reserved numbers that are typically variable unit will have the suffix dropped. This involves the following groups of courses.

  • 089s, 189s, 289s, 389s
  • 098s, 198s, 298s 398s
  • 199s, 299s, 399s

Internships -- 089s, 189s, 289s, 389s

There are only a handful of 089s across campus. Those areas with 089s that have a different topic for each version of the course but units are the same for all versions can retain the suffix. Suffixes used only to denote variable units will be dropped and only the variable-unit version of the course will be converted.

  • 089, 089A, 089B, 089C will convert to 189
  • 289 will be created for all departments with an 89 series
  • 189, 189A, 189B, 189C will convert to 389
  • 289, 289A, 289B, 289C will convert to 489

Special Topics – 098s, 198s, 298s, 397s

Courses such as BLMC 198A-L, that have a different title and topic for each version of the course and no variation in units, can retain the suffix. All other special topics courses with variable units will convert as follows.

The graduate-level 397 will be renumbered to 698 to make it consistent with use of the 98 series. Numbers 597 and 697 will be used for graduate-level independent study.

  • 098, 098A, 098B, 098C will convert to 198
  • 298 will be created for all departments with a 98 series
  • 198, 198A, 198B will convert to 398
  • 298, 298A, 298B will convert to 498
  • 397, 397A, 397B will convert to 698

Special Problems – 199s, 299s

  • 199 will be created for all departments
  • 299 will be created for all departments
  • The current 199, 199A, 198B, and 198C will convert to 399 (to be consistent with 189 and 199 conversions)
  • 299, 299A, 299B, and 299C will convert to 499


Honors in General Education

  • HNRS 199H will convert to HNRS 399H

Honors in the Major

  • 299H will convert to 499H

Exception: in those programs with a two-course honors sequence (i.e., 299H, 299I)

  • 299H will convert to 399H
  • 299I will convert to 499H

Master’s Projects and Theses – 399s

  • Projects will become 699P
  • Theses will become 699T

Reserved Suffixes

The following suffixes are reserved for specific uses and should only be used in these cases.

  • The H suffix should appear on all honors courses.
  • The S suffix should appear on any course that is Service Learning.
  • The L suffix can be used to designate a lab course which is a separate course from the lecture.
  • The X suffix is reserved for helper classes which are taken in conjunction with another class.

This convention will require a change for any course currently using one of the above suffixes for an alternate purpose. For example, courses with an H suffix that are not Honors courses will need to discontinue the use of the H. If the course using the H is in a series that will retain the use of the suffix, then the H will need to be dropped and a different letter used in its place. The department can also consider dropping the suffix entirely and using consecutive numbers in place of suffixes.

All Other Suffixes

Currently suffixes are often used on courses that are related or somehow grouped. Courses might be grouped because the content of one course is continued in a subsequent course. For example:

  • HIST 001A – History of Western Civilization
  • HIST 001B – History of Western Civilization

Courses might be grouped because they represent variations of the same course. For example Animal Science offers four courses called Principles of Livestock, each with a separate focus.

  • ANSC 015A – Principles of Livestock – Beef
  • ANSC 015B – Principles of Livestock – Sheep
  • ANSC 015C – Principles of Livestock – Swine
  • ANSC 015D - Principles of Livestock - Dairy

Courses might be grouped because they represent a shared topic with several levels of variation. For example, Gymnastics courses vary based both on the skill level of the student and whether or not the course is for Men or for Women.

  • PHED 036I – Beginning Gymnastics: Men
  • PHED 036J – Intermediate Gymnastics: Men
  • PHED 036V – Beginning Gymnastics: Women
  • PHED 036W – Intermediate Gymnastics: Women

With our current numbering scheme and its limited range of numbers, adding a suffix to grouped courses made the most sense. With a wider range of numbers and a new software, departments can make use of the following three approaches.

  1. Drop the Suffix and Use Consecutive Numbers

    With a wider range of numbers suffixes can be dropped in favor of giving each course in the group its own number. For example, HIST 001A and 001B might become HIST 100 and 101.
  2. Use a Suffix Because in some cases there are so many versions of a group of courses, it might be most desirable to continue the use of the suffix.

    For example, Music has 11 different versions of Studio Instruction (MUS 011A – K). A is for Brass, B is for Percussion, and so on. There is also an upper-division series MUS 111A-K. Rather than assigning separate numbers to all 11 versions of the class, the department may prefer to continue the current use of suffixes. However, the use of the “H” suffix for the Guitar version of the course will need to be changed since this is not an Honors course.
  3. One Course Number, No Suffix, Varying Topics We also have the option within PeopleSoft of creating one version of a course without the suffix and multiple Titles or Topics for the course. Each time a section of the course is added, the appropriate Topic would be selected. In order to use this option the following must be true:
    • Units do not vary between different versions of the same course.
    • Course descriptions do not vary.
    • All versions have the same semesters offered information.
    • There are no prerequisites or the prerequisites are the same for each version.
    • Courses do not have CAN Ids (California Articulation Number) that differ.
    • GE/Ethnic/NonWestern status must be the same among the courses.
    • The Activity Type(s) or C-class(es) must be the same.
    • Max Repeat must be the same

An example of the three renumbering options outlined above: What follows is a review of the different ways a department could handle courses with suffixes. Gymnastics represents one of the more complicated examples because there are multiple versions of the course and each version carries both gender and skill level variations.

Currently these four courses are set up as:

PHED 036I Beginning Gymnastics: Men
PHED 036J Intermediate Gymnastics: Men
PHED 036V Beginning Gymnastics: Women
PHED 036W Intermediate Gymnastics: Women

  1. The most familiar method to renumber these would be to maintain the four separate courses either by using separate numbers:
    PHED 136 – Beginning Gymnastics: Men
    PHED 137 – Beginning Gymnastics: Women
    PHED 336 – Intermediate Gymnastics: Men
    PHED 337 – Intermediate Gymnastics: Women
  2. All enrollment would show separately under the specific course.
    No topic.
  3. Or with suffixes:
    PHED 136A – Beginning Gymnastics: Men
    PHED 136B – Beginning Gymnastics: Women
    PHED 236A – Intermediate Gymnastics: Men
    PHED 236B – Intermediate Gymnastics: Women
  4. All enrollment would show separately under the specific course.
    No topic.
  5. Or a single course number with multiple topics. Note: Converting to multiple topics might require adjusting Repeat limits as well as careful setup with regard to adding and maintaining sections in the schedule. All sections, each with its own topic, would be listed together. If you are interested in this option, you will need to work with APO to determine how best to set this up.

    In our Gymnastics example, the use of topics could be done in several different ways.
  1. One course, different topics.
    PHED 136 -- Gymnastics
    Topics: Beginning Gymnastics: Men
      Beginning Gymnastics: Women
      Intermediate Gymnastics: Men
      Intermediate Gymnastics: Women
    All enrollment would count together under the one course.
    Topic title would print on transcript and schedule.
    Different sections of the same course would carry the different topics.

    Two courses, different topics
    PHED 136 – Men’s Gymnastics
    Topics: Beginning

  2. PHED 137 – Women’s Gymnastics
    Topics: Beginning
    Two enrollment totals would generate: one for Men’s Gymnastics, one for Women’s Gymnastics.
    Topic title would print on transcript and the schedule.
    Different sections of the same course would be designated as Beginning or Intermediate via the topic.

    Two courses, different topics
    PHED 136 – Beginning Gymnastics
    Topics: Men
    PHED 137 – Intermediate Gymnastics
    Topics: Men
    Two enrollment totals would generate: one for Beginning Gymnastics, one for Intermediate Gymnastics.
    Topic title would print on transcript and the schedule.
    Different sections of the same course would be designated as Men’s or Women’s via the topic.

This document is the property of Academic Affairs and maintained by Curriculum Services.