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NDUS Procedures

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SUBJECT: 400s: Academic affairs EFFECTIVE: June 6, 2007
Section: 403.7.3 Common Course Numbering Guidelines

This procedure implements SBHE Policy 403.7. The following guidelines have been used to develop the Common Course Numbering (CCN) Matrix. These guidelines will also be used for the updating and monitoring of the project.

  1. If courses are accepted as "common" by academic discipline groups, then such courses must have a common course number, title, and generic description. Departmental prefixes need not be the same if the academic discipline group responsible for the course has determined that multiple departmental prefixes may be deemed common. For example, a discipline group may determine that the prefixes MICR and BIOL are both suitable in identifying a Microbiology course. A campus may enhance the course description to represent the course as it is offered at that campus as long as the basic description remains common. Common courses are transferable to other campuses as the equivalent of the common course.

  2. The credit range among institutions may not deviate by more than one credit for a course listed on the matrix.

  3. If the course is not accepted as common, but is still listed on the Matrix, the course is considered "Unique." Unique courses' prefixes, numbers and titles are assigned by the campus. Course numbers, titles, and descriptions for unique courses must differ significantly from common course identifiers. Unique courses may transfer to other campuses to meet graduation requirements, major requirements, general education requirements, or elective requirements. Acceptance in transfer of unique courses is not required.

  4. When adding new courses, the following guide may be used to determine necessary actions.

    Is the course a designated common course?
    NOYESDon't Know
    Review Matrix to ensure proposed course numbers are not already in use as CCN courses.Assign common prefix, same number, same title and same generic description.Contact the academic discipline group chair or the director of articulation and transfer to make this determination. This information is also available on the NDUS Transfer and Articulation Web site.
    Assign common/unique prefix, unique number, unique title and unique descriptionCampus forwards syllabus and request for CCN inclusion to the director of articulation and transfer.
    If CCN Unique Course status is desired, campus should forward a request and syllabus to the director of articulation and transfer.Director forwards materials to academic discipline group representatives for consideration.
    Director forwards materials to academic discipline group representatives to ensure courses are unique.
    Director advises campus of academic discipline group comments and, if necessary, updates the Matrix.
    If there are no objections from the academic discipline group, the course is added to the Matrix. If objections are raised, the course is not added and the objections are shared with the requesting campus. Requesting campus may re-submit the course after changes are made.
    The director should be advised of any campus curricular changes that impact the Matrix.

  5. For "common" courses, the following should be considered:
    • The department name and the course prefix need not be the same.
    • The course prefix should be of two to four letters.
    • The course prefix need not match the department designation.
    • The course may be taught outside the department.
    • The campus need not have the department to teach the particular course.
    • The credit range among institutions may not deviate by more than one credit for a course listed on the matrix.

  6. Academic disciplines for whom common content is neither important nor easily expressed, may do one of two things:
    • Offer a brief common description, even if is not much more than a functional equivalent of the common title; or
    • Agree that it is not worth attempting common descriptions for certain courses, even though they have been given CCNs.

  7. Different courses may not have the same title, even if the prefix and number differ.

  8. Prefixes not previously approved for use for a campus must be approved by the chancellor. Refer to the Academic Affairs Forms Request Stage II Cover Page.


  1. Introductory courses, traditionally offered to students in the first four semesters of a program of study, should have a 100 or 200 designation.

  2. Courses considered as upper division are traditionally offered to students in the last four semesters of a program of study and should have a 300 or 400 designation.

  3. A course may be designated as 200/300 if it is accepted as equivalent. The assumptions concerning the course are as follows:
    • The course is introductory.
    • Conditions for accreditation and/or other conditions involving majors and minors may require the upper division designation of some introductory courses.
    • The transferring student will not be required to retake the course.
    • A student transferring a 200 course accepted as a 300 course may be required to take a different course at the 300 level to meet graduation requirements.


  1. At the discretion of the receiving campus, these courses may transfer as 1) equivalent to a course that exists on the receiving campus, 2) electives within the major and/or 3) electives toward graduation. Since these courses tend to be highly specialized, they should not be listed on the common course matrix.

  2. These numbers are required for 19x and 29x.

  3. These numbers are recommended for 39x and 49x and should be used whenever possible.

    • x90 Education methods courses within disciplines
    • x91 Seminars
    • x92 Experimental Course
    • x93 Peer Tutoring
    • x94 Independent study; Directed study; Undergraduate research
    • x95 Service Learning
    • x96 Study tours; Field study; Study Abroad
    • x97 Internship; Externship; Cooperative Education
    • x98 Pre-professional experience; Clinical; and Student Teaching
    • x99 Special topics courses; Reading courses


Special transfer arrangements between campuses or between groups of campuses should be in writing and accepted as an articulation agreement.

Copies of all articulation agreements should be sent to the director of Articulation and Transfer for inclusion in a system Inventory of Articulation Agreements.


The purposes of recurring academic discipline group meetings are three: 1) to provide academic discipline group members with the opportunity to discuss concerns and issues relevant to the academic field; 2) to maintain the discipline's section of the common course number matrix, to include the addition of courses from NDUS and partner institutions; and 3) to investigate and recommend methods of making transfer between and among institutions more seamless.

The academic discipline groups shall make recommendations concerning common course numbering issues, common credit-by-exam programs, statewide and systemwide articulation agreements, and other matters concerning seamless transfer between and among NDUS and partner institutions.

  1. Regular face-to-face group meetings of academic discipline group representatives will be scheduled on a revolving three-year cycle.
    1. The chief academic affairs officer of each institution should promote attendance at these face-to-face meetings.
    2. Every effort should be made to hold all subsequent meetings or discussions over IVN, email or by conference call.
    3. Subsequent meetings may be requested by members of the academic discipline group, the chair of the group, the director of articulation and transfer, and by a member of the Academic Affairs Council.

  2. Each campus' academic affairs division will select representatives for each of the discipline groups. The normal term of service on this committee will be three years.
    1. A list of scheduled academic discipline group meetings for each semester will be provided to each campus' academic affairs division by the NDUS director of articulation and transfer at the beginning of that semester.
    2. Each campus offering courses within a discipline scheduled to meet will provide the name, email, and telephone contact information of a representative from the academic field unless the campus has already provided this information and the information remains current.
    3. The office of articulation and transfer will provide campuses with a complete list of discipline representatives, by discipline, annually on August 1. Campuses must review and update this list and return changes to the director of articulation and transfer no later than the last Friday of the month of August.

  3. In consultation with the group, a date for the face-to-face meeting shall be chosen and discipline representatives and the Academic Affairs Council will be notified of meeting place and time by the director of articulation and transfer.

  4. Discipline group representatives will elect a chairperson to facilitate meetings, to coordinate the group's actions, and to draft the group's recommendations for consideration by the Academic Affairs Council.

  5. It is the responsibility of the discipline group members to notify campus individuals, offices, and departments of their recommendations.
    1. These groups may include department chairs, deans, chief academic officers, registrars, and others as deemed necessary by the institution.
    2. At the system level, through the office of articulation and transfer, direct communication shall be maintained with discipline representatives and with the Academic Affairs Council.

  6. A period of time of no less than one month shall pass between the group's meeting and forwarding the group's recommendations to the Academic Affairs Council. This is to ensure all members have an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns as well as the opinions and concerns of others on their campus.

  7. Proposed changes to the common course matrix and other recommendations will be introduced to the Academic Affairs Council by either the NDUS director for articulation and transfer or by the discipline group chair-at the discretion of the discipline group chair.

  8. The Academic Affairs Council shall forward to the chancellor any recommendation for changes to the common course numbering system.


  1. Statewide or systemwide articulation agreements may be drafted by academic discipline groups or by the NDUS director for articulation and transfer prior to consideration by the academic discipline groups.

  2. Statewide or systemwide articulation agreements must be written so that lower division transfer may take place between or among any North Dakota University System institution, participating North Dakota tribal colleges and/or participating private college. This includes the traditional student option of bi-lateral transfer (one community college to one university) as well as non-traditional bi-lateral transfers (between community colleges, between universities, from university to community college), and multiple or multilateral transfers.

  3. Participation by NDUS institutions in the statewide/systemwide articulation agreement process is not voluntary. Specific academic decisions, such as course equivalency and course acceptance is determined by the NDUS institution-except where that institutional option is superseded by existing NDUS policy or procedure (GERTA, CCN, etc.). Special note(s) indicating specific instances where individual campuses must differ with the articulated agreement(s) will be annotated on statewide articulation agreements.

  4. For non-NDUS institutions, participation is voluntary and must be approved by the chancellor, upon recommendations from the academic discipline groups and the academic affairs council.

  5. Statewide or systemwide articulation agreements must include appropriate general education requirements, pre-requisites for the major, and transferable major requirements. Except where specifically requested by the academic discipline group, or where authorized by existing common course number guidelines, lower division courses will not replace upper division courses. In cases where lower division content is equivalent to upper division content, transferring students may still be required to complete the required number of upper division courses prior to graduation.

  6. Statewide or systemwide articulation agreements shall be discussed by the academic discipline group(s) responsible for that academic area. A recommendation from the academic discipline group through the group's chair shall be forwarded to the NDUS director of articulation and transfer or to the Academic Affairs Council.

  7. The Academic Affairs Council shall forward its recommendations concerning statewide or systemwide articulation agreements to the chancellor. An agreement approved by the chancellor is a guarantee of transferability of the courses listed on the agreement for the specific major at any of the institutions that are party to the agreement.

  8. Where articulation agreements involve two or more academic discipline groups, both or all groups will provide a recommendation for the Academic Affairs Council.

  9. The Academic Affairs Council shall make a recommendation to the chancellor concerning the adoption of statewide and systemwide articulation agreements.
Click on the link to access statewide/systemwide articulation agreements currently approved by the chancellor.

Reference: SBHE Policy - 403.7  

Chancellor's Cabinet Meeting, June 2001
Chancellor's Cabinet Meeting, September 14, 2005
Chancellor's Cabinet Meeting, March 22, 2006
Chancellor's Cabinet Meeting, September 6, 2006.
Chancellor's Cabinet Meeting, June 6, 2007.
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