Office of the President

Course Numbering Policy; Supercedes EM 84-001, 88-053, 90-037 and 03-021

Executive Memorandum 08-025 May 27, 2008

This Executive Memorandum has been superseded by 17-012 .

From: Paul J. Zingg, President

Subject: Course Numbering Policy; Supersedes EM 84-001, 88-053, 90-037 and 03-021


Upon the recommendation of the Academic Senate and the Provost, I approve the following document for implementation beginning with The 2005-07 University Catalog. Course numbering serves to identify the course and its sponsor department (based on the subject). When thoughtfully applied, course numbers can communicate valuable information to the student, faculty, adviser, high school and community college counselor, and others who think about the classes a student must take and to those who evaluate the classes that have been taken. To facilitate transfer and entrance to graduate school, course numbering should also communicate necessary information to other universities.

Courses are considered to be pre-baccalaureate, lower-division, upper-division, graduate, and professional development. To facilitate the transfer of courses to and from the California State University, Chico, clear definitions of lower-division and upper-division courses are required. Course numbering should reflect the academic level of the course. Although there are differences in the organization and content of various academic disciplines, in general, distinctions between course levels reflect the prior preparatory experience and perhaps the relative academic challenge to students. The following course numbering system is established, with exceptions as stated under Reserved Course Numbers.


These courses are generally developmental or preparatory and carry no baccalaureate credit.


These courses are designed for freshmen, but may be taken by others. Many community college courses may be comparable.


These courses are designed for sophomores, but may be taken by others. Some community college courses may be comparable.


These courses are designed for juniors, but may be taken by others. This course designation is appropriate for GE Upper-Division Themes. None of these courses are comparable to community college courses. Since community college courses cannot qualify for upper-division credit, it is presumed that upper-division courses at CSU, Chico should not be equivalent to similar courses at any community college.


These courses are designed for seniors, but may be taken by others. This course designation is appropriate for senior seminars and courses that require a high degree of disciplinary sophistication or a high degree of specificity in content. It assumes considerable prerequisite knowledge and experience. None of these courses is comparable to community college courses. Students receiving graduate credit for these courses generally are required to complete additional course work compared to students receiving baccalaureate credit.


These courses reflect advanced study, which is appropriate for both seniors and graduate students. Students receiving graduate credit for these courses generally are required to complete additional course work compared to students receiving baccalaureate credit. These courses can include post-baccalaureate courses, such as those in credential programs, which are not permitted to be included in course work for graduate degrees.

600-699: GRADUATE

Graduate courses are open to post-baccalaureate students only, except that undergraduates with permission of the Dean of the Graduate School may enroll. They require an identification and investigation of a theory or principle; application of theory to new ideas, problems, and materials; extensive use of bibliographic and other resource materials; or competence in the scholarly presentation of independent study research.


800-899: OTHER

These courses focus on problems encountered in professional service and aim to meet the needs of groups seeking vocational improvement and career advancement. They are designed primarily for the purpose of meeting objectives that cannot be served by established graduate and undergraduate courses. Credit for these courses does not apply to degrees. However, in exceptional cases and with the approval of the appropriate department and college dean, students may apply these toward degree and credential programs for which such courses are deemed acceptable. Determination of the acceptability of these courses for degree and credential credit will depend primarily upon course content and approach. Students should not consider registering in these courses for credential or degree purposes without first consulting with the appropriate department.

900-999: NON-CREDIT

These non-credit courses are designed to provide opportunities to pursue cultural, intellectual, and social interests.


  • Prerequisite courses will have a lower number than the course using the prerequisite.
  • Courses numbered 299 and below will be available for community college transfer credit.
  • Suffixes may be used. Suffixes such as “L” for laboratory, “S” for service learning, and “X” for supplemental instruction are reserved.
  • The suffix “H” is reserved for courses designated as honors. Courses so designated must be approved by the University Honors Program for either Honors in General Education or Honors in the Major.
  • Suffixes which signify a variable unit value will not be permitted.
  • Course sequences with suffixes may be numbered sequentially.
  • Course numbering must be consistent with Major Academic Plans (MAP).
  • Degree programs need to contain at least 40 units of upper-division work.
  • Numbering systems should have appropriate gaps to allow for future curricular changes.


189, 289, 389, 489, 589, 689

Internship and other experience-based courses. These courses involve community work with placement in a public or private agency under the supervision of a qualified professional. A maximum of 15 internship units may be applied to a bachelor’s degree (a department may limit the number of units which count toward its major requirements).

198, 298, 398, 498, 598, 698

Special topics and experimental courses offered on a one-time only basis or new courses offered between catalog years. No university limit on the number which may count for a degree. A major may limit the number which counts toward major requirements.

199, 299, 399, 499, 599

Special problems courses used for independent study with variable units. Students will be strongly advised to enroll in no more than 3 units of independent study per semester; a total of 6 units may apply toward a bachelor’s degree, although a major may further limit the number which counts toward major requirements. Special problems courses numbered 599 and lower may not apply in a master’s degree program.

399H, 499H, 599H

Honors courses are available only to students admitted to Honors in the Major or Honors in General Education, typically for independent study leading to Honors. These 3- or 6-unit courses are normally taken in the senior year. These units do not count toward the maximums listed in the preceding paragraph.


Comprehensive Examination: A course designated in some graduate programs to give credit for the extensive research and preparation involved in the comprehensive examination culminating activity. In programs that offer a Comprehensive Examination course, a maximum of three units of 696 credit may be awarded and a CR/NC (credit/no credit) grade is assigned.


Independent Study: A course designated for a specific research project supervised by an authorized member of the faculty. Courses numbered 697 are open to post-baccalaureate students only.


Master’s Study: Separated into a thesis and supporting research or a project as defined by the individual department. Enrollment in a 699 course is supervised by the chair of the graduate advisory committee. One to six units of Master’s Study credit will be awarded for the completion of a thesis or project and the supporting research for the topic. The number of units awarded is determined by the academic department. The course may not be taken as Special Session or Open University credit. Normally, enrollment in 699 is limited to classified students or candidates in a master’s degree program, although restrictions vary among departments. All 699 courses are assigned a grade of RP until all degree requirements are successfully completed, and a grade of CR is assigned at that time.