Criteria for Upper/Lower-Division Courses
The number by which a course is designated indicates the level of the course:
100-299: Lower-division courses primarily for freshmen and sophomores.
- 100-199: Primarily introductory and beginning courses.
- 200-299: Intermediate-level courses.
300-499: Upper-division courses primarily for juniors and seniors.
- 300-399: Advanced-intermediate-level courses.
- 400-499*: Advanced-level courses.
500-599*: Graduate courses. Open to exceptionally well-qualified seniors with the prior written approval of the course instructor and the Graduate College. See the Graduate Credit for Seniors policy.
600-699: Graduate courses. Not open to undergraduate students, with the exception of seniors admitted to an Accelerated Master's Program.(AMP).
700-799: Graduate courses limited to doctoral students.
800-899: Courses limited to students working toward degrees offered by the colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, and Public Health. Not available for credit toward other degrees.
900-999: Independent graduate study involving research, thesis, or dissertation. Not open to undergraduates.
* Certain 400- and 500-level courses with the same number and title may be convened jointly. Students may receive credit for such courses only once, whether jointly convened or separately, unless designated repeatable in the course description or unless special approval is granted by the student's major advisor.
Criteria for Upper/Lower-Division Courses
The assignment of courses to upper and lower-division is a difficult task. APASC provides these guidelines to ATFs and college/university curriculum committees for their review of course level.
Lower-division courses generally focus on foundational theories, concepts, perspectives, principles, methods, and procedures of critical thinking in order to provide a broad basis for more advanced courses. The primary intent of lower-division coursework is to equip students with the general education needed for advanced study, to expose students to the breadth of different fields of study, and to provide a foundation for specialized upper-division coursework in professional fields. Such courses have one or more of the following four purposes:
- To acquaint students with the breadth of (inter) disciplinary fields in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and to the historical and contemporary assumptions and practices of professional fields.
- To introduce essential skills of literacy (e.g., information gathering, reading, and writing), language, (e.g., oral communication and language and culture other than English), numeracy, and sciences to prepare for continuing work in any field of higher education.
- To develop specific occupational skills designed to lead directly to employment based on a two-year program of study.
- To lay the foundation for upper-division coursework and to begin development of analytical thinking and theoretical application.
Upper-division courses are specialized, in-depth, and advanced, and emphasize problem-solving, analytical thinking skills, and theoretical applications. These courses often build on the foundation provided by the skills and knowledge of lower-division education. Upper-division courses may require the student to synthesize topics from a variety of sources. Upper-division courses may also require greater responsibility, or independence on the part of the student. Upper-division courses require instructors with specialized knowledge and preparation. Thus, many intermediate and all advanced baccalaureate courses in a field of study are properly located in the upper-division. In addition, disciplines that depend heavily on prerequisites or the body of knowledge of lower-division education may properly be comprised primarily of upper-division courses. Such courses have one or more of the following three purposes:
- The in-depth study or application of theories and methods and the understanding of their scope and limitations.
- The refinement of essential skills associated with the baccalaureate.
- The development of specific intellectual and professional skills designed to lead to post-baccalaureate employment, graduate study, or professional school.