Guidelines for Numbering Courses at the Undergraduate Level
These guidelines are intended to help the university community achieve consensus as to how the level of an undergraduate course relates to course structure, organization, and degree of difficulty or sophistication.
Lower-Level vs. Upper-Level
Lower-level courses are those at the 100-level and 200-level.
Upper-level courses are those at the 300-level and 400-level. In addition, a 200-level course may be proposed to count as an upper-level course, particularly if it has a university-level prerequisite.
Upper-Level Requirement for a Bachelor’s Degree
Of the 120 credit hours required for the degree, at least 45 must be at the upper-level.
These are typically introductory courses having no university-level prerequisites, often presenting basic concepts and terminology. Students in such courses are expected to operate largely at the “knowledge” and “comprehension” levels, but should be provided opportunities to develop at the “application” and “analysis” levels (refer to the revised Bloom’s taxonomy below).
Such courses are at an intermediate level of difficulty, and sometimes survey a subfield within a discipline. They often have a prerequisite at the 100-level. Students taking such courses should solidify their abilities at the knowledge and comprehension levels, and be provided ample opportunity to develop their application and analysis skills.
300-Level and 400-Level Courses
Such courses are at an advanced-undergraduate level of difficulty, and are generally taken by majors, minors, and other students with a well-defined interest and demonstrated ability in a particular subject area.
While continuing to develop proficiency at the lower cognitive levels, 300-level courses are expected to provide students with the opportunity to operate at the “synthesis” and “evaluation” levels.
Courses at the 400-level operate mostly at the “synthesis” and “evaluation” levels. They are often of a “seminar” nature, with the students taking significant responsibility for the course agenda. In particular, courses which provide students with the opportunity to perform directed research are usually at the 400-level.