Missouri State University

Office of the Registrar

Undergraduate Catalog

2014-15 preliminary edition, April 2014

Course Numbering System and Guide to Course Descriptions

Course numbering system

000-099 Background courses
100-199 Lower division courses designed primarily for freshmen
200-299 Lower division courses designed primarily for sophomores
300-399 Upper division courses designed primarily for juniors
400-599 Upper division courses designed primarily for seniors
600-799 Graduate courses designed primarily for master's level study
800-899 Upper-level graduate courses primarily for students in specialist or doctoral programs
900-999 Upper-level graduate courses primarily for students in doctoral programs 

Course description

In addition to providing a brief description of the course content, it may also include:

  • Course grading policy. Examples: Graded Pass/Not Pass only. Cannot be taken Pass/Not Pass.
  • Repeat limitations. Example: Variable content course, may be repeated to a total of 6 hours.
  • Supplemental course fee assessed in addition to tuition
  • Limitations on course applicability to degree requirements. Example: Cannot count toward a major or minor.
  • Identical course is offered in another department.
  • Course has a undergraduate and graduate level parallel. See below for more information on parallel courses.

Prerequisite and co-requisite

  • A prerequisite may consist of a single course, multiple courses, or choice of courses; class standing or other criteria such as placement test scores, admission to a specific program of study, or departmental permission.
  • Some courses may require concurrent enrollment in another course during the same semester. This is referred to in the online class schedule as a "co-requisite."
  • Prerequisites and co-requisites change over time and are not dependent on the student's catalog of graduation. The registration system will enforce prerequisites that are in effect for the semester of registration.
  • The student is responsible for having the appropriate prerequisites prior to enrollment in a course. If any academic department determines that a student does not have the appropriate prerequisites for a course, registration for the course may be cancelled either prior to or after classes begin. Any questions concerning the prerequisite should be directed to the academic department offering the course.

Credit and contact hours

  • Credit hours represent a unit of academic credit measured in semester hours. Some courses may be offered for a range of credit hours. Read more about credit and contact hours.
  • Lecture contact hours represents the number of hours per week the class will meet in a lecture environment (based on a 15-week semester). 
  • Lab contact hours represents the number of hours per week the class will meet in a laboratory environment (based on a 15-week semester).
  • Clinical contact hours represents the number of hours per week the course will meet in clinical experiences outside the classroom and may not be listed in the lab hours area and/or in the course description. Normally clinical hours will require three or more hours per week per hour of credit. Some typical clinical courses are Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy.
  • Courses with no standard lecture or laboratory contact hours indicates class time is spent outside the normal classroom environment (i.e., field study, internships, practicums, research, service learning, supervised teaching, thesis, etc.)

Parallel courses

Parallel courses are those courses that have both an undergraduate and graduate version. Students enrolled in either version meet in the same room at the same time with the same instructor. The graduate level version of the course must require coursework appropriate for graduate credit. Parallel courses are referred to as "cross-listed" courses in the class schedule.


Periodicity indicates the anticipated semester offering. This information is provided to help students plan their class schedules. The anticipated semester offering is not the same of the schedule of classes, and the semesters listed indicate when the courses may be offered. Refer to the Projected Course Offerings website for more detailed information on class availability.

Variable content course

The variable content course statement indicates course is defined as one having in either its course title or its description any of the following terms: variable content, special topics, issues, problems, seminars, projects, independent study, or readings. Variable content courses include any courses that may be substantially different from one semester to another. Also included in this category are special problems, special projects, readings, and research conducted on a tutorial basis with individual students. Unless otherwise stipulated in the course description, a variable content course may be taken only once for credit.