Common Course Numbering System

Policy and Procedures Guidelines

The following policy from the Board of Regents Handbook and procedures from the NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual govern the Common Course Numbering process.

Handbook – Title 4, Chapter 14, Section 16


  1. All undergraduate courses in the NSHE must be common-course numbered with equivalent courses offered throughout the System. To be assigned a new and unique course number at least 20 percent of the proposed course content must be unique and not found in a current or pending course within the NSHE.
  2. Any additions or changes to undergraduate course prefixes, numbers, titles, and/or credits must follow the procedures established by the Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs and may not be included in class schedules or catalogs until written approval is received from the Department of Academic and Student Affairs.

  3. An NSHE transfer guide or common course numbering master file shall be maintained by the Office of the Chancellor and published on the web.
  4. Each NSHE institution shall list and update the requirements for each program leading to the bachelor’s degree and publicize these requirements for use by all other institutions in the state.
  5. Each NSHE institution shall include in its official catalog of undergraduate courses a section stating all lower-division prerequisites for each upper-division specialization or major program.
  6. A system-wide course numbering rubric for all institutions shall be maintained so that baccalaureate transfer courses are clearly identified for student reference prior to registration under the following general course numbering parameters:
    1. Remedial/developmental courses 001-099
    2. Lower-division courses 100-299
    3. Upper-division courses 300-499
    4. State College graduate courses 500-699
    5. University graduate courses 500-799
  7. Course selection for students who plan to seek a baccalaureate degree at another NSHE institution shall be based on degree requirements published pursuant to subsection 3 and the governing course catalog of the institution.
  8. Community colleges may utilize a B suffix for course numbers to alert students that the course may be non-transferable for a NSHE baccalaureate degree.
  9. Within the college’s information system, non-transferable courses and courses that are transferable for a bachelor’s of applied science degree only must be appropriately identified for students and advisors during the registration process.

Procedures and Guidelines Manual – Chapter 6

Section 19 Common Course Numbering General Guidelines (6/2014)

  1. Except as otherwise provided, common course numbering identifies equivalent NSHE courses and labels them with the same course prefix, number, title, and credits.  Common courses are defined as those that have the same course prefix and number and have comparable content with essentially common expectations regarding student performance upon completion of the course. In limited circumstances, common courses may have a variable number of credits assigned, including but not limited to internships and labs.
  2. A transferring student will not be required to retake a successfully completed common course unless a higher standard for performance in the course is a published degree requirement.
  3. Common course numbers will not require faculty to change or standardize their course to be equivalent with another institution's beyond the requirement for 80 percent content nor will it impact course delivery methods.
  4. If an institution develops a course that is already common course numbered, its content must be 80 percent common to the existing course.
  5. All undergraduate courses must be common course numbered or receive a unique course number.  Courses that are not assigned a common course number will be considered “unique” courses.  If a course is unique, the institution offering the course assigns the course prefix, number, title, credits, and description.
  6. All courses must have a generic course description that will be part of the review in determining whether or not a course is common or unique.  Institutions may develop a course description that varies from the generic description, but the description must not differ significantly in substance from the generic description.
  7. All prefixes should be between two and four letters.  The department name and prefix need not be the same (e.g. the department of Philosophical and Regional Studies [PRS] may offer courses with prefixes such as HIST, ECON, PHIL, etc.).
  8. Common courses shall be appropriately numbered as upper or lower division and will be assigned a common course prefix, number , title, and credits

Procedures and Guidelines Manual – Chapter 6

Section 20. Common Course Numbering: Assignment of Prefix, Number and Title (6/2014)

  1. In order for a course to be assigned a common or unique course number, all institutions that offer the discipline in which the proposed course resides must agree that at least 80 percent of the content of the proposed course is common.  Every institution must be contacted to review the content of the proposed course.
  2. The applicable Common Course Numbering form developed by the Department of Academic and Student Affairs must be completed for all additions, changes and deletions of undergraduate courses.  In addition, the applicable form must be completed for any changes to existing course prefixes, numbers, titles or credits.
    1. Every institution must be contacted to review the course.  The point of contact for course review must be the academic administrator over the discipline or the registrar or institutional designee if there is no academic administrator.  In circulating the form for review, it will be determined if the course is common or unique, and a title and number will be agreed upon for inclusion on the form.
    2. The course information provided by the originating institution for review must include a copy of the syllabus or course outline and a course description.
    3. The originating institution will submit the completed form to System Administration, Department of Academic and Student Affairs.
    4. If a common course prefix, number, title, or credits cannot be agreed upon, the course will be reviewed by the appropriate System-wide Discipline Committee. If the System–wide Discipline Committee does not reach agreement, the course will be referred for review to the Common Course Numbering Committee.  If agreement is not reached through the Common Course Numbering Committee, the matter will be referred to the Academic Affairs Council for resolution.
  3. The Department of Academic and Student Affairs shall:
    1. Develop and maintain a Common Course Numbering form for additions, changes and deletions.
    2. Maintain a Common Course Numbering Master File that will include all NSHE undergraduate courses, both common and unique.
    3. Review Common Course Numbering form submissions to determine if all criteria have been met.
      1. If all criteria have not been met, the contact person for the originating institution must be notified within 14 business days.
      2. If all criteria have been met, the contact person listed on the form for each institution must be notified within 14 business days and the Common Course Numbering File must be updated.  If the contact person is not the registrar, the Department will also notify the registrar at the institution and any other designee for whom the institution has requested notification.
  4. Institutions shall:
    1. Establish procedures reviewing new courses; proposed changes to courses, course number, prefix, or credits; and proposed deletion of courses, and for participation in the Common Course Numbering system-wide review process.
    2. Respond within 10 business days to a notification received from another institution regarding proposed additions, changes or deletions to common course numbering. If a response is not received from an institution within 10 business days of submitting a request, it will be assumed that the response is affirmative.
    3. Not include any additions or changes to undergraduate course prefixes, numbers, titles, and/or credits in class schedules or catalogs until written approval is received from the NSHE Department of Academic and Student Affairs.
  5. System-wide Common Course Numbering Committee and Discipline Committees
    1. Each institution must appoint one representative to the Common Course Numbering Committee to oversee the Common Course Numbering System. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is a member of and serves as chair of the Committee.
    2. As required, System-wide Discipline Committees will be established that include institutional representatives of the disciplines. The System–wide Discipline Committees must review the course offerings within their respective disciplines system–wide periodically or at least once every ten years to determine common versus unique courses and make the appropriate changes to ensure that students are able to readily transfer from one institution to another.  In addition to any scheduled review, an institution may request a System-wide Discipline Committee at any time.
    3. The NSHE Department of Academic and Student Affairs shall provide staff assistance to the Common Course Numbering Committee and the System-wide Discipline Committees.