Skip to main content

How to Read a Course Description

How to Read a Course Description

Example Course Description

Example of course description

Course Description Key

Each course at Boise State University has a course description that consists of a 1) subject/prefix, 2) course number, 3) title, 4) credits, 5) semester offered, 6) additional information, 7) requisites. These elements of the course description are described below.

1) Course Prefix/Subject

The prefix indicates the department or academic unit offering the course. View the Course Catalog page for a complete list of course prefixes.

2) Course Numbering System

  • 00–99 noncredit courses that do not count toward degree requirements
  • 100–199 freshman-level courses (lower-division courses)
  • 200–299 sophomore-level courses (lower-division courses)
  • 300–499 junior- and senior-level courses (upper-division courses)
  • 500–699 graduate-level courses
      • Ordinarily, courses numbered below 500 carry undergraduate credit. However, the university sometimes grants graduate credit in select upper-division courses (those numbered 300 through 499). If an upper-division course carries graduate credit, its unique number will be followed by a G (for graduate). Students enrolling in such courses may earn either graduate or undergraduate credit; however, students who wish to earn graduate credit are required to do additional work beyond that required of students earning undergraduate credit.
      • Throughout the catalog, a hyphen appearing between course numbers indicates that the first numbered course is a prerequisite (PREREQ) to a second numbered course (e.g., ENGL 101-102); a comma between course numbers indicates that either course may be taken independently of the other (e.g., HIST 111, 112).
      • Cross-listed courses are courses offered by multiple departments or academic units.
      • Dual-listed courses are courses offered by an academic unit at both the 400-level and 500-level (e.g., GEOPH 420 and GEOPH 575).

3) Course Title

The official title of the course.

4) Credits

According to Idaho State Board of Education policy, forty-five (45) clock-hours of student involvement are required for each semester credit, which includes a minimum of fifteen (15) student contact hours for each semester credit. The unique course number of each course is followed by a sequence of three numbers that indicate the number of lecture hours per week that the course meets, number of lab hours per week that the course meets, and the number of credits a student earns by completing the course. The following examples show typical uses of these additional numbers:

  • (3-0-3) a 3-hour lecture class carrying 3 credits
  • (3-4-5) a 3-hour lecture class with a corresponding 4-hour laboratory class, carrying 5 credits
  • (0-4-0) a 4-hour laboratory class that carries no credit
  • (0-2-1) a 2-hour studio art class or fitness activity class, carrying 1 credit
    • Note: a V is used to indicate variable credits or hours.

5) Semester offered

The semester code indicates the semester(s) and/or term in which the course is offered and is expressed using letter codes F for fall semester, S for spring semester, and SU for summer term, with the full sequence of letter codes enclosed in parentheses. A comma or slash between letter codes is used to interpret combinations as illustrated in the following examples:

  • F = Fall semester only
  • S = Spring semester only
  • SU = Summer session only
  • F,S = Both fall and spring semesters
  • F,SU = Fall semester and summer session
  • S,SU = Spring semester  and summer session
  • F/S = Fall or spring semesters or both
  • F/SU = Fall semester or summer session or both
  • S/SU = Spring semester or summer session or both
  • F,S,SU = Fall and spring semester and summer session
  • F/S/SU = Fall or spring semester or summer session or all

6) Additional Information

Associated with the scheduling of the course or showing the special status of a course (can be used to satisfy foundational studies requirements) may be given in parentheses after the semester offered. A course that is not offered regularly may be listed as On Demand, As Justified, or Intermittently.

7) Requisites

The list of requisites specifies any prerequisites and/or co-requisites using the following abbreviations:

  • PREREQ: prerequisite (condition to be met before enrollment)
  • COREQ: corequisite (condition met before or during enrollment)
  • PERM/INST: permission of instructor required to enroll
  • PERM/CHAIR: permission of department chair required to enroll
  • The most common type of prerequisite is a specific course that must be successfully completed prior to enrollment. Typically, a corequisite is a laboratory course that must be taken during the same semester or term as a related science course.