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Course Numbers and Non-Permanent Courses

Resolved that the following policies for assigning course numbers and regarding non-permanent courses apply from now on with a grace/transition period until Fall 2015:

Course Numbers

  1. All permanent course numbers now have five visible digits. Traditional three-digit numbers will be the first three digits (“head number”) in the new number, followed by two digits with a default setting of “00” (e.g. SANS 10100 Elementary Sanskrit). This change has taken place already with the introduction of CUNYfirst. As in the past, the head number should be indicative of the level at which the course is taught.
  2. All designations such as “Pluralism and Diversity,” “Individual and Society,” “Life and Physical Sciences,” or “Fulfills major requirements for XXX” that either exist now or may be developed later can only be assigned to 3-digit head numbers and must be true for all courses under that number. The only exception pertains to classes that are “Writing Intensive” in some sections and not in others. The “W” designation will be treated as a “Course Property” of relevant sections and internally marked by the Registrar’s office
  3. The last two digits of a course number may be used to designate courses covering subtopics that fall under the head number and title, or some other specification. These courses used to be known as “permanent decimalized courses” or “permanent topics courses”. As in the past, all permanent courses need full curriculum review. The titles of the permanent topics courses must show both the general and specific topic to be studied.


The full institutionalization of 5-digit course numbers through CUNYfirst has opened up the possibility of an almost one-hundredfold increase in course numbers and titles. To keep the catalog language and numbering system manageable for the general user, we are proposing the above general guidelines for numbering courses. In the long run, the system suggested above will make it much easier for departments with many subfields to group permanent special topics under one head number and when requiring one of several courses in a subgroup to simply identify the subgroup through its head number.

The proposed change clarifies the relation of ‘topics’ courses and college requirements.

Examples of numbers and subtopics:

For a fictional “European Studies” program: EURS 30101: Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Voltaire; 30102: Enlightenment: The Career of Leibniz; EURS 30103: Enlightenment: English Novel of the 18th Century; EURS 30103: Enlightenment: Origins of the French Revolution.  The description of the major or minor or other program might state: A student must take two courses with the head number EURS 301 Enlightenment.

For a fictional “Botany” program: BOTN 20201: Non-Flowering Plants: Mosses; BOTN 20202: Non-Flowering Plants: Equiseta.

Non-Permanent Courses

1.     Departments may offer courses that are non-permanent because they want to experiment with new topics and curriculum development or because they want to take advantage of a special-opportunity or event. Non-Permanent (NP) courses are subject to a number of restrictions:

  • NP courses may be offered no more than 2 times before being submitted to full curriculum review.
  • NP courses must be approved by a curriculum committee that is constituted according to governance procedures.
  • NP courses cannot be offered in multiple-sections.
  • No more than 2 NP courses per semester may be offered in any degree program (and they must not constitute more than one third of offerings in a degree program in any one semester). Beyond this limitation, a full-time faculty member who is new to Hunter College may teach up to three NP courses in an established program in his/her specialty during his/her first year at Hunter.
  • NP courses cannot be specifically required for a degree program, but NP courses may be offered as one option in a group of required electives.
  • The deans’ offices will each send a list of all planned NP courses in their respective schools to the Hunter Senate office when submissions for the Schedule of Courses are due. A copy of each list will be forwarded to the Registrar.
  • Members of Hunter college who need any exceptions to restrictions b, c, d, e, f above must explain their need and obtain approval from the Undergraduate Course of Study Committee or the Graduate Courses of Study & Academic Requirements Committee.

2.      All Non-Permanent courses will be clearly marked by having the letter “N” as part of their head number. The two digits before the “N” will be indicative of the level at which the course is to be offered (and may range from 10N00 to 79N00, and Doctoral 80N and 90N).

3.      To facilitate the transition to the new policy, the Registrar’s Office will instal for every program courses with N-head numbers (one each at the 200-, 300-, and 400-levels, and in each of the graduate levels where appropriate). In keeping with previous Senate decisions concerning experimental courses, the following titles will be automatically assigned, but may be changed by departments as befits their individual circumstances:

  • XXXX 20N00 : “Studies in ...”
  • XXXX 30N00 : “Problems in ...”
  • XXXX 40N00 : “Seminar Studies in ...”.

These course numbers and titles will be set up before registration for the Fall semester of 2015. Departments may propose additional NP head numbers  for review if they want to offer NP courses in specific sub-categories (e.g., SANS 21N00 “Studies in Sanskrit Syntax”; SANS 22N00 “Studies in Sanskrit Phonology”). The last two digits in non-permanent numbers will be assigned by the Registrar (and may range from 01 to 99). A specific NP course for a given semester might look like this: SANS 21N01 Studies in Sanskrit Syntax: Position of the verb in compound sentences.

4.      NP courses cannot as such be used to fulfill any college requirements. Instructors can file a “Class Action Appeal” with the Senate office if they want a specific NP class to be counted towards Hunter requirements such as a “Pluralism and Diversity” category or designation as “W” or inclusion in one of the old General Education categories. NP courses cannot be counted towards the Hunter Core.  This does not apply to graduate courses.


The proposed changes try to put into writing the hitherto implicit professional understanding of the role of experimental and other non-permanent courses in the course of study at Hunter.

The current system of assigning course numbers has become hard to understand for departments and has led to uncertainties about how to assign decimalized numbers and what their implications are. While NP courses have always been run under decimalized numbers, some departments (running short of whole numbers) have used permanent decimalized numbers to cover topics that fall under a general category. These then existed side by side with experimental categories.

In some instances, the lack of clarity in policy regarding non-permanent courses has led to attempts to rush the establishment of new programs by proposing experimental courses before the programs themselves had been reviewed. This could lead to uncertain and unfair situations for students and for Hunter College.

These issues especially need clarification with the introduction of the new Hunter Core and the CUNYfirst system. The proposed changes clarify the relation of non-permanent courses and college requirements.

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