University Course Descriptions

Definitions for various components of a course description.

Course-Numbering System

These course descriptions are arranged alphabetically. If any course cannot be located readily, refer to the index. Courses are numbered as follows:

Undergraduate Courses (1 to 399): General courses accepted in fulfillment of requirements for the bachelor's degrees.

Advanced Undergraduate Courses (400 to 499): Courses open to graduate students and to juniors and seniors and, with the special written permission of the head of the department or the chair of the program sponsoring the course, to qualified students in earlier semesters.

Graduate Courses (500 to 699; 800 to 899): Courses restricted to students registered in the Graduate School, seniors with an average of at least 3.50 (500- and 800-level only; excludes 600-level), and other students who have been granted permission to enroll by the dean of the Graduate School. These courses are described in the Penn State Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin.

Medical Courses (700-799): Courses restricted to students registered in the College of Medicine. These courses are described in the Penn State College of Medicine Programs Bulletin.

Law Courses (900-999): Courses restricted to students registered in Penn State Law and Dickinson Law. These courses are described in the Penn State Law and Dickinson Law Programs Bulletins.

Common Course Numbers

The following course numbers for which students may register have been set up for common use by major programs, with University Senate approval, to encourage innovation and provide flexibility in designing programs, but in no case may a course be scheduled for 0 credits. 

First-Year Seminar 187.  Listed under some liberal art-related academic headings, this course has prerequisites of first-semester standing and enrollment in the College of the Liberal Arts. 

Research Project Courses 294, 494.  1-12 credits. Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student's transcript. 

Internship 295, 395, 495. 1-18 credits. Supervised off-campus, non-group instruction including field experiences, practica, or internships. Written and oral critique of activity required. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student's transcript.

Independent Studies 296, 496.  1-18 credits. Creative projects, including research and design, that are supervised on an individual basis and that fall outside the scope of formal courses. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student's transcript. 

Special Topics 97, 197, 297, 397, 497; 98, 198, 298, 398, 498. 1-9 credits. Formal courses given infrequently to explore, in depth, a comparatively narrow subject that may be topical or of special interest. Several different topics may be taught in one year or semester. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student's transcript. 

Foreign Studies 99, 199, 299, 399, 499.  1-12 credits. Courses offered in foreign countries by individual or group instruction. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student's transcript. These courses typically carry the International Cultures (IL) attribute.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES AND SUFFIXES

Attributes and attribute values are course designations that are used to define specific characteristics for courses. The search for specific types of courses uses attributes and attributes are the most important notation for a course to satisfy a given requirement.

Suffixes are letters that follow a course number and allow for easier identification of a course's characteristics. Not all attributes and characteristics are captured in available suffixes and suffixes are not the feature used to determine if a course satisfies a requirement. The degree audit and what-if reports use attributes, not suffixes, to determine applicability of a course to a requirement.  

BACHELOR OF ARTS

Attributes

  • BA: Arts
  • BA: Humanities
  • BA: Natural Science
  • BA: Other Cultures
  • BA: Quantification
  • BA: Social and Behavioral Sci
  • World Lang (12th unit)
  • World Language (all)

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Attributes

  • International Cultures (IL)
  • United States Cultures (US)

Suffixes

  • U: United States Cultures and/or International Cultures and Honors
  • Y:  United States Cultures and/or International Cultures and Writing Across the Curriculum

General Education

Attributes

  • GenEd: Writing/Speaking (GWS)
  • GenEd: Quantification (GQ)
  • GenEd: Arts (GA)
  • GenEd: Health Wellness (GHW)
  • GenEd: Humanities (GH)
  • GenEd: Natural Sciences (GN)
  • GenEd: Social & Beh Sci (GS)
  • GenEd Integrative: Interdomain
  • GenEd Integrative: Linked

Suffixes

  • N: Inter-Domain 
  • Q: Inter-Domain and Honors
  • Z: Linked Course. Approved Linked Course pairs must be confirmed by the Linked Course search feature in LionPATH.

FIRST-YEAR ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM

Attribute

  • First Year Seminar

Course Subject

  • PSU: First-Year Seminar

Suffixes

  • S: First-Year Seminar
  • T: First-Year Seminar and Honors
  • X: First-Year Seminar and Writing Across the Curriculum

WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

Attribute

  • Writing Across the Curriculum

Suffixes

  • M: Writing Across the Curriculum and Honors
  • W: Writing Across the Curriculum
  • X: Writing Across the Curriculum and First-Year Seminar
  • Y: Writing Across the Curriculum and United States Cultures and/or International Cultures

HONORS COURSEs 

Attribute

  • Honors

Suffixes

  • H: Honors
  • M: Writing Across the Curriculum and Honors
  • Q: Inter-Domain and Honors
  • T: First-Year Seminar and Honors
  • U: United States Cultures and/or International Cultures and Honors

COURSE Credits 

In accordance with Senate Policy 42-23, for the typical student, a total of forty-five (45) hours of work planned and arranged by the University faculty is required to gain 1 credit. While the distribution of time varies from course to course, generally one-third of the time is devoted to formal instruction and two-thirds of the time to outside preparation. Course credit by instruction may be achieved by a variety of educational experiences that allow the student to work toward mastery of the course objectives. With the acknowledged goal of educational excellence, more than the minimum established here may be required for mastery of course objectives.

The number of credits for each course is indicated in parentheses and can be earned with classroom, practicum, or laboratory work as designated in LionPATH.

A department may schedule an entire section in an undergraduate course for fewer credits than the maximum authorized. In 400-level courses, a department may schedule an individual student for fewer credits than the maximum authorized. In no case, however, may the course be scheduled for 0 credit, or may the total credits scheduled for any student exceed the maximum number authorized for the course.

Repeatable and Variable Credit Courses

Some courses are designated as repeatable; they may be taken more than once for credit.These courses may be repeated indefinitely unless the department stipulates a maximum number of credits allowed. These courses appear with the maximum number of credits allowed following the number of credits for the course--for example (1.5 credits/maximum of 3).

Courses may have variable credits, such as (1-3), (2-6), or (3-10). Here, the larger number signifies the total credits that can be accumulated for the course over an indefinite number of semesters, unless otherwise specified. For example, a course listed with (1-6) could be taken six semesters for 1 credit each semester, or two semesters for 3 credits each semester, or once for 6 credits, etc.

In some courses with variable credits, students may be permitted to accumulate more than the larger number shown. Such courses will be listed as, for example, (1-3 per semester, maximum of 12).

Any special departmental limitations are indicated by footnotes.

Prerequisites, Concurrent Courses, Co-requisite Courses, and Recommended Preparation

See also: Senate Policy 34-60.

Prerequisites, concurrent courses, and co-requisite courses approximate the necessary specific coursework or general academic knowledge, background, or semester classification required to succeed academically in a given course.

  • Prerequisites are courses or other requirements that must be completed prior to the start of a given course.
  • Concurrent Courses are similar to prerequisites except that they may be taken prior to, or in the same semester as, the given course.
  • Co-requisite Courses are pairs of courses required to be taken together in the same semester.

Registration in a given course is limited to students who have satisfied the stated prerequisite, concurrent, or co-requisite requirements. The course instructor has the right to permit students to take the course without having the stated prerequisite, concurrent, or co-requisite requirements, if the student demonstrates mastery of the material through some other means.

Recommended Preparation relates to preparatory skills or companion courses deemed useful, but not necessary, for successful completion of a course. Recommended preparation has no bearing on registration in a given course.