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Course Management Course Proposal Guidance for Department or Program Administrators

Once an instructor has developed a course syllabus that is ready to be submitted to the Committee on Instruction (COI) for consideration, the Course Proposal Form must be completed by the appropriate department or program administrator (whether the director of academic administration or finance or another approved administrator who has approved access to the Course Management system).

Administrators, please refer to the Proposal Module in Course Management ( The COI staff would be happy to address any questions; please contact them at

To complete the form, the administrator will need to obtain the following materials and determine the following additional information:

Materials from the Course Instructor

  1. The proposed course syllabus.
  2. The course description for the Bulletin.
  3. A curriculum vitae, if the course instructor is new to teaching at Columbia University (i.e., a new full-time faculty member, visiting faculty member, or adjunct instructor).

Additional Information from the Instructor or from the Department

Course Subject Code, Designator and Number

Course Subject Code

The 4-character subject code could take one of two forms:

  • Single Department/Program
    If offered by one department/program, the course will carry a four-character course designator determined by the department/program.

  • Two or More Departments/Programs
    If jointly offered by two or more departments/programs, the course can carry a four-character course designator determined by the offering departments/programs in consultation with the COI and the Office of the University Registrar.

Course Designator and Number

Courses open to undergraduate students must fall into one of two categories:

  • “UN” designates an interschool course, generally taught by Arts and Sciences faculty, open only to undergraduate students. UN courses may have course numbers as high as 3999.

  • “GU” designates an interschool course, generally taught by Arts and Sciences faculty, open to undergraduate and graduate students (typically master’s students). GU courses may have course numbers ranging from 4000 to 4999. These courses need approval by both the CC-GS Committee on Instruction (for undergraduate students) and the GSAS Executive Committee (for graduate students).

  • Note that “GR” designates a course open only to graduate students, numbered from 5000 and higher. These courses are not reviewed by the CC-GS Committee on Instruction, since they are not open to undergraduate students.

New Course

Indicate whether this is a new course or one that has been offered in the past, and if offered in the past, when it was last offered.


All courses are expected to meet at time that accord with the Arts and Sciences Master Schedule. If the instructor is requesting an exception to the Master Schedule, the course approval packet must include a letter from the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or department chair requesting the exception. Please note that exceptions are normally granted only in cases of extreme extenuating circumstances and usually as a single-term exception.


If applicable. For example, a course might have political science as its department name and American politics as its subfield.

Term(s) to be Offered

There are several types of term offerings:


The course will be offered one term of the academic year.

Dual Term

The course will be offered during both the Fall and Spring terms of the academic year. There are two types of dual term offerings:

  • Fall or Spring
    The course is offered both terms with the same content, and students are only required to take one term. (For example, CHEM UN1500 General Chemistry Laboratory is offered both in the fall and in the spring, and students are required to take one term of it.)

  • Fall and Spring
    This is a year-long course in which the first term is a prerequisite for the second term and both terms are required. (For example, AHIS UN3997 Senior Thesis is a year-long course and students must enroll in both terms.) Normally, credit for year-long courses is not granted until both terms have been completed.

Points of Credit

Points of credit are determined by a formula established by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and are based on the number of contact hours with the instructor and the amount of work required outside of class. Instructors can check with department administrators to determine norms for the department/program, and can find further information on the calculation of course credit by reviewing the Guidance on Course Points.

Course Title

While school Bulletins do not have a character limit for course titles, the online Directory of Classes does, so you should ask for long and short versions of the course title. There are two types of course titles:

Stand Alone

This is the most common type of course title. For example, Russian music from Glinka to Gubaidulina.

Multiple Topic

This is used in instances where there are several courses with the same main title but each course number or section has a different topic. For example:

  • Physics I: mechanics and relativity; Physics II: thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism; Physics III: classical and quantum waves

  • Topics in American Studies: history of the Supreme Court; Topics in American Studies: writing September 11, narratives and arguments; Topics in American Studies: equity in American higher education.

Names of All Instructors

When a course is team-taught, the names of all instructors of record should be included in the Proposal Module form in Course Management (as well as on the course syllabus). Graduate or undergraduate teaching assistants do not need to be noted in the system.

Course Type

These are the most common types of courses:


Typically meets two times per week in 75-minute blocks, for a total of 150 minutes; typically requires midterm and final exam as minimum requirements; sometimes requires a separate discussion or recitation section, usually led by a teaching assistant; carries three points for lecture, or four points if discussion section/recitation is required.


Typically meets one time per week in a 110-minute block; typically requires several pieces of written work, including a final paper that is substantial in length and scope; expected to require more independent work than lecture courses, with larger amounts of reading and/or other homework than lecture classes; typically carries four points of credit.


Any course whose primary purpose is language instruction, whether focused on grammar, conversation or cultural topic.


Can be stand-alone for credit (such as “lab in cell and developmental biology”) or attached to another course, usually a lecture, for no credit (such as “Experimental Psychology: Human Behavior Lab”).


Typically a course whose main goal is for students to work outside of the classroom, normally as a group with instructor oversight (such as “Field Geology”; “Student Teaching in Urban Schools”; and “Geological Excursion to Death Valley, CA”).


Skill-based courses such as “Architectural Design I”; “Ballet I”; “Instrument Instruction”; and “Painting I”.

Additional Class Meetings

Please indicate if the course requires meetings that are in addition to regular instructional class meetings (e.g., film viewings, museum visits).


Prerequisites are courses that must be completed prior to enrolling in this course. Corequisites are courses that must be taken at the same time as enrolling in this course.

Enrollment Cap

In order to facilitate classroom assignments, all courses must note an expected enrollment cap. For courses that are taught with some regularity, departments are encouraged to use historical enrollments in order to set anticipated enrollment caps. For new courses, instructors and administrators are encouraged to consult departments for typical enrollments in similar courses.

Enrollment Priorities

If course enrollment will be predicated on specific criteria, please note them on the Proposal Module form in Course Management (e.g., priority to senior majors or to students with previous related coursework, enrollment by application only).