Section 5.7


Course numbering is a nearly universal system for providing a short, unique identifier for each course taught by a university. Numbers may also be used to indicate attributes of a course for advising or administrative purposes. In general terms, for example, students may assume that courses with higher numbers require more prior knowledge or employ a more sophisticated approach to learning than courses with low numbers. The State of Ohio also provides different levels of subsidy to the university for courses requiring differing levels of understanding. The course numbering system can be a rough but imperfect indicator of subsidy level. Whether it is intended for student information or in the context of subsidy, however, course numbering is used in practice as a general guide to the curriculum rather than as a strict classification scheme. At BGSU, undergraduate course numbers have the following significance:

  • Courses numbered 99 and below are developmental. Credit may not be applied toward any degree program. Unlike other numbering "rules," this restriction may not be violated.
  • Courses numbered from 1000 to 1999 are ordinarily for freshmen and sophomores.
  • Courses numbered from 2000 to 2999 are for sophomore, juniors, and seniors and are not ordinarily open to freshmen.
  • Courses numbered from 3000 to 4999 are ordinarily open to juniors and seniors but under exceptional circumstances may be taken by a freshman or sophomore upon the recommendation of an adviser and with the written approval of the instructor of the course or the chair of the department concerned.

Departments may attach significance to finer subdivisions of this numbering system. For example, courses within a single specialization or courses with a common presentation format (e.g., studio, lab, practicum) might have numbers in the same decade. Many departments reserve numbers in the 4900 decade for capstone experiences such as workshops, proseminars, and senior reading courses.

A course number may need to be assigned because an entirely new course has been created or because an existing course has been modified substantially enough that it is to be considered new (see Guidelines for Updating Courses). In either case, the department or program offering the course may indicate its preference for a number, but the Office of Registration and Records has the final responsibility and authority for making the assignment.

Creating a course number requires that a course be added to the official Course Inventory that is submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents, be added to the next printed Undergraduate Catalog and to its current version on the World Wide Web, and be added to the University's Student Information System (SIS). Within the Degree Audit Record System (DARS), course numbers are maintained in computerized lists of courses that satisfy BGSU degree requirements. They also appear in equivalency tables that help equate BGSU courses to those that students take elsewhere and present here for transfer credit. Many other institutions also add courses offered by Bowling Green State University to their own equivalency tables. A network of equivalency tables thus allows for the calculation and communication of transferability of course credit among institutions, making it possible to evaluate the transcripts of students who move from one place to another.

Because course numbers have meaning for many purposes both on and off campus, there must not be any ambiguity about which course a particular number identifies. Therefore, when a course is eliminated there is a period during which its number is retired and may not be used for another course. The guidelines that apply to the process of assigning course numbers are these:

  • A department or program proposing a change that will involve assigning a new course number should indicate its preference for a number on a Blue Sheet. The request should indicate, at a minimum, whether the course is to be at the 1000, 2000, 3000, or 4000 level. The Registrar will fill a request for a course to be numbered lxxx, for example, by choosing an unused number between 1000 and 1999. A request for 12xx would be filled by an available number between 1200 and 1299. A request for 1260 would be filled by 1260, if that number is available.
  • Changing the title or content of an existing course so substantially that it is no longer considered the same course requires the assignment of a new number, whether it has been specifically requested or not. The Registrar will not make such a change without the express knowledge and approval of the department.
  • A number that has already been used on the Course Inventory may not be reassigned to represent a different course until the old course has been deleted from the Inventory for at least 5 years.

Should you ever have a question about the number for a course under your supervision, please contact your college office, the office of the Provost/VPAA, or the Registrar.