Course Levels and Types

Course Level/Uniform Numbering Policy

Numbering System:

001-099 Developmental or basic skills courses. These courses are not applicable to Minnesota State University Moorhead degree requirements.
100-199 Undergraduate courses primarily for students in their freshmen year.
200-299 Undergraduate courses primarily for students in their sophomore year.
300-399 Undergraduate courses primarily for students in their junior year.
400-499 Undergraduate courses primarily for students in their senior year. These courses may be dual listed with 500-level graduate courses.
500-599 Entry level graduate courses. These courses may be dual listed with 400-level undergraduate courses and may include limited enrollments by undergraduates.
600-699 Graduate courses. Undergraduate enrollment is only by exception.
700-799 Graduate courses designed for graduate students only.

Explanation of Course Levels:

Lower-Division Courses:

100-299 These courses are generally considered lower division and typically require no or limited prerequisite background in the discipline. These courses are introductory or part of a series of basic courses in a discipline.

Lower division courses increase the knowledge students have of subjects with which they are already familiar, introduce them to new subjects, and/or establish a foundation for study of a major subject in depth. They are courses that may be counted in majors, minors, electives, and/or the Liberal Arts and Science curriculum. They are used at the basic level in baccalaureate programs, and are used in the Associate of Arts Degree in the Liberal Arts.

Lower division courses usually are tightly structured with the expectation students are to receive considerable instruction guidance in the learning process. Instruction at this level normally is informational and emphasizes learning skills; it usually entails the use of text materials or resources provided by the instructor or acquired through library or other resources. The intellectual skills emphasized in lower division courses include comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application of knowledge, but these competencies are not stressed to the same degree as they are in upper division courses. Evaluation of student performance at this level typically tests information, concepts, and skills, but may include aspects identified for upper division courses as well.

Upper-Division Courses:

300-499 Courses at the 300 and 400-level are considered upper-division courses. Typically they build on the background of courses at the lower-division. They may have one or both of the following characteristics:

  • They require analysis, synthesis, and/or integration of knowledge and skills from several specific areas in a discipline or from related disciplines.
  • They are built on a foundation of prerequisite lower division courses in liberal studies, a specific discipline, or a related field of study.

Upper division courses enable students to study a major field in depth by building upon and integrating the knowledge gained in lower division courses. Upper-division courses may also serve as an introduction to sub-fields within a discipline. Upper-division courses are characterized by a more flexible structure that allows for a variety of approaches to the subject matter, a wide range of course material, an emphasis on independent study and/or research in the laboratory, library, studio, or community. Students are expected to accept increasing responsibility for their own learning both inside and outside the classroom. Upper-division courses typically emphasize comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application of knowledge. Evaluation of student performance at this level stresses such outcomes as comprehension and understanding of concepts, the ability to solve problems, and the ability to integrate knowledge.

Upper-division courses may be counted in majors, minors, electives, and/or the Liberal Arts and Science curriculum. They are used at the upper-level in baccalaureate degree programs.

Graduate Courses:

500-799 Courses at the 500, 600, and 700-level are considered graduate courses. Typically, graduate courses are restricted to students who have successfully completed a baccalaureate degree. No more than 50 percent of the credit hours in any graduate program can be at the 500-level. They also may have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • They typically build upon a foundation of undergraduate courses in a single or related discipline.
  • They require intellectual maturity of students and stress independent study.
  • They emphasize the use of information resources, studio, laboratory, community, and field-based facilities in ways commensurate with the level of learning.

The primary function of graduate courses is to broaden the perspective and deepen the knowledge students have of a particular discipline or professional field of study, or to provide students preparation in an advanced professional field that requires foundational knowledge and experience in a related discipline or field of study. They are used in master's and specialist programs, and may be used for special students or special post-baccalaureate certificate programs and studies.

Graduate courses are structured in a manner that allows for a variety of approaches to the subject matter, a wide range of source material, considerable student interaction, and a significant emphasis on independent study and/or research in the library, laboratory, studio, or community. They are designed to extend the knowledge and intellectual maturity of students beyond the baccalaureate level. They are intended for students who are capable of analyzing, exploring, questioning, evaluating, and synthesizing knowledge. Evaluation of student performance in graduate courses entails a variety of means and is commensurate with the level of complexity of these courses.

Multiple Numbered Courses:

Multiple numbered courses are used to manage curriculum and faculty assignments. In this approach, a given body of content is available in separately approved courses at the two different levels. It is assumed each of those courses is needed, one for each level of curriculum. However, in the context of curriculum and resource management, the institution may make the decision to teach those two courses simultaneously by one faculty member. Different levels of expectations would be stated for the students in separate course syllabi or in a segment of a common syllabus. The syllabi are required to outline these different expectations based on the characteristics described in A, B and C above and would be made available and on file. Multiple numbered courses must be properly approved, documented, and monitored for quality and maintenance of standards. Two types of multiple numbered courses are acceptable. Undergraduate studio and ensemble courses may be multiple numbered (100, 200, 300, 400), and senior and entry level graduate courses may be dual numbered (400/500).

Uniform Numbering Conventions:

The following course numbers are used University-wide. Curriculum approval is not required to offer the following types of courses.

X69 Internship – course designed to provide practical participation under professional supervision in selected situations to gain experience in the application of concepts, principles and theories related to the student’s area of specialization. 1-12 credits.

X90 Topics – (Special Topics: [name determined by department]; may be repeated when the topic changes.) Topics courses, under the same title, may be offered for a maximum of three semesters before formal approval is required, at which time the course must be reported through the University curriculum approval process. 1-5 credits.

X92 Capstone/Senior Seminar – serves as the culminating course for academic study in a student’s major. 1-5 credits.

X94 Undergraduate Research – Individual exploration of topical area through research, reading or field placement. 1-5 credits.

X95 Portfolio – culmination portfolio for research project at the graduate level. 1-6 credits.

X96 Project/Action Research – a non-thesis capstone research program at the graduate level (Plan B). 1-6 credits.

X97 Independent Study – selected research for individual students under faculty supervision. 1-6 credits.

X98 Continuing Registration – used at the graduate level for registration after completion of all course requirements, including thesis or capstone project; required during the semester of the oral defense examination. Enrollment may not be used to fulfill degree credit requirements or financial aid minimum requirements. 1-6 credits.

X99 Continuing Studies – Courses numbered X99 are reserved for institution-wide assignment for Continuing Studies and Workshops. In most instances 499 is recommended for undergraduate level and 599 for graduate level. 600 and 700 level will not be used. These courses have a different tuition rate. 1-6 credits.

X99 Thesis – used at the graduate level for research and writing of the master’s thesis under the supervision of the faculty chair and the thesis committee. Used only at the 600 and 700 level. 1-6 credits.

Travel Study Courses Policy

A travel study course is defined as a faculty-led, credit-bearing experience, of generally less than six weeks, in which the majority of the instruction is provided at an off-campus location. Travel study courses may be conducted within the United States or abroad. Field trips conducted as part of a campus-based class are excluded from this policy. All travel study courses must be proposed and approved using standard Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) forms. The deadline for proposing a travel study course is during spring semester of the year preceding the course offering, usually in mid-late March.

Any faculty member, except adjunct faculty, may propose a travel study course. The faculty member must be employed by and contracted to MSUM at the time the course takes place. The course should be listed on the Faculty Assignment Record approved by the department. There should be one faculty member to every 12-15 students on a tour.

Travel study courses shall be taught using a course syllabus that follows the MSUM syllabus policy. Use of a -90 topics number is appropriate, but if the same course is offered more than three times with the topics number, the course must be approved by the University Curriculum Committee as a regular course. In order for students to receive LASC credit, the course must be approved in advance of recruiting for the course by the University Curriculum Committee. LASC designation is not required and may not be applicable for all travel study courses.

Travel study courses should be offered for an appropriate number of credits, as determined by the academic department offering the course. In general, a one (1 )-credit course would have fifteen (15) contact hours; two (2) credits, thirty (30) contact hours; three (3) credits, forty-five (45) contact hours; and four (4) credits, sixty (60) contact hours. A contact hour consists of actual instructional time. It is expected that students spend additional time with the course material outside of contact hours with the instructor. Course work may be completed prior to the tour or following its completion.

Faculty shall select participants for the travel study course and will use a standard application form. All students must be registered for the course; community members must also register for the course, but they may choose to audit the course instead of receiving a grade. Students who have formal duties related to the tour, such as research assistant, are not required to register for the course.

Selection criteria should be clearly specified; relevant to the program; and applied in the same manner, to all. Eligibility requirements may be based on academic qualifications (which may include GPA and course prerequisites); or current status (e.g., not currently on academic probation); demonstrated leadership skills, knowledge or commitment to cultural concerns, or other criteria relevant to the tour. Faculty may not collect or use "protected" class information as selection criteria (e.g., race, ethnicity, age or disability). Following their selection, accepted participants must complete appropriate health information forms, which includes information about an asserted disability. Those individuals are directed to contact the campus disabilities services office to verify the existence of a disability and what kind of reasonable accommodation is requested.

The budget for the course shall include all tuition, fees, expenses, and deposits paid by the students. Any deposits shall be applied directly to the program fee. Airline tickets purchased are the property of the participants. Any change or cancellation fees are additional charges paid by the participant.

University funds may not be used to subsidize travel for non-university purposes, including family members who have no assigned responsibilities. Faculty cannot use "free" trip slots or other incentives that are sometimes offered by travel organizations for family members. Children of faculty under the age of eighteen (18) must be accompanied by another adult. Family members must also carry insurance that includes evacuation and repatriation.

Payments to faculty for work that is not part of the normal workload must be made as "extra duty days." Faculty may not receive payments of any kind from a tour company, host institution, or other organization.

Faculty members are encouraged to plan their trip using a reputable travel agency to the extent possible. Business Services can provide a list of reputable agencies that do business with MSUM. Due diligence must be taken to ensure that any other travel agents or venue planners used are reputable and legitimate. The appropriate MSUM personnel must sign contracts on behalf of the university. Typically, this will be a college Dean.

Prior to travel, faculty members must review any applicable travel policies and procedures with their students and provide information required by applicable policies and procedures to MSUM officials.

Prior to travelling abroad, all participants, including faculty, students, and community members, are required to have insurance that includes repatriation and evacuation coverage. Faculty and students are encouraged to use the Minnesota State system-provided insurance policy.

Applicable MSUM and Minnesota State system policies and relevant information which shall be followed, includes but is not limited to: Minnesota State Travel Management Policy & Procedure, Minnesota State Education Abroad Policy & Procedure, Foreign Currency reimbursement conversion, U.S. State Department Travel Warnings, Credit Card use, Conflict of interest, the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, and the Vehicle Use Policy.

Course Removal

Courses that have not been taught during a five (5)-year span will be automatically removed from the Catalog by the Registrar.

Should a course not be taught in a three (3)-year period, the responsible department and dean will receive a notice from the Registrar that the course will be removed if it’s not taught over the following two (2) – year period.

Certain types of courses are not subject to this policy. Excluded from this policy are: Topics, Internship/Practicums, Independent and Individual Study, including Readings, i.e. courses open to enrollment by one or more students for a mentored or guided learning experience.