Submitting a Course Proposal to the Committee on Instruction

Course proposals to the CC-GS Committee on Instruction must be submitted via the Course Management system.

Different people will need to be engaged in the entry of a new course proposal and in the course approval workflow in the Course Management system, so you can learn more about instructions specific to (1) the course instructor, (2) the Department or Program Administrator and (3) the Director of Undergraduate Studies. (Note: If a course is open to undergraduate students and graduate students, the proposal will also need approval by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Executive Committee on the Graduate School of Arts & Science.)

Guidance for Instructors

Academic departments and programs have designated at least one person on their administrative staff to have access to the Course Management system, to enter information into the Proposal module and to submit a course proposal into the Committee on Instruction (COI) workflow. Instructors should therefore make sure that this person has the following materials and additional information for a new course proposal:


  1. The proposed course syllabus. Instructors can find more information on the expected elements of a syllabus for a course open to undergraduates by reviewing Structuring a Syllabus.
  2. The course description for the Bulletin. Instructors can find more information on constructing a course description for the Bulletin by reviewing Writing a Course Description for the Bulletin.
  3. 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

Department administrators will need to confirm with the instructor the following information about the proposed course, if it is not already clearly noted on the course syllabus:

  • Name of department/program that will be offering and listing the course

  • Subfield, if applicable -- e.g., department of Political Science, subfield of American Politics

  • Short version of course title for the Directory of Classes

  • Instructor Columbia UNI and Columbia email address

    • If more than one instructor of record, name(s) of other instructor(s), UNI(s) and email address(es)

  • Course type -- e.g., lecture, seminar, colloquium, laboratory, language, fieldwork, studio

  • Term(s) in which the course will be offered

  • Required supplemental class meetings, if applicable -- e.g., film viewings, museum visits

  • Points of credit for the course (see Guidance on Course Points)

  • Prerequsites or corequisites necessary for enrollment

  • Enrollment cap for the class (required for all courses)

  • "Course rules" regarding enrollment -- i.e., the list of schools whose students are eligible to enroll in the course

  • Enrollment priority for the class, if applicable -- e.g., priority for senior majors, admission by application

  • Requirement or elective for major, if applicable

For definitions or additional details about the information noted above, please see instructions for Department or Program Administrators.

Guidance for Department/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. 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 the 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 will carry the four-character course designator of the "home" department. In the online Course Management system, the course can be coded that it will be listed not only in the department and subject of that home department, but also in the department and subject of the partner department(s)/program(s). 

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).

  • “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.


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).

"Open to"

The "Open to" field is also known as the "Course Rules" field. Departments/programs can indicate the schools whose students are eligible to enroll in the course. Students from those schools will then be able to register for the course through the SSOL system, while students from other schools will not be able to register for the course through SSOL. If no course rules are put into place, then the course will be open to all students.

If a course should be restricted to students in particular schools, the individual schools can be selected in the "Open To" field. There is also an option in the "Open To" field for "School of Arts & Sciences", which in the case of the Course Management system has been programmed to include the following schools: Columbia College; Engineering and Applied Science: Undergraduate; General Studies; School of Professional Studies; Global Programs; Graduate School of Arts and Science; Barnard College. 


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).


Guidance for Directors of Undergraduate Studies

After the department or program administrator has completed the Course Proposal form in Course Management and entered the course proposal into the Course Management system (with the attached course syllabus and, if necessary, the instructors C.V.), the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department or program is required to review the course proposal and provide approval at the program level on the Proposal (further guidance will be posted shortly).

Please note that the Director of Undergraduate Studies (and, in some cases, the Director of Graduate Studies) may receive multiple emails about a particular course proposal as it moves through the various stages of workflow in the system. If you have questions at any stage about how to manage a course proposal, please contact the administrative staff of the Committee on Instruction at

To submit approval at the program level, the Director of Undergraduate or Graduate Studies should be ready to confirm the following information:

Curricular Planning

Please indicate if the course fulfills any of the department’s curricular planning statement categories, as outlined by the Arts and Sciences:


If the course must be taken by any student to fulfill a requirement for a program (undergraduate majors, majors in other departments, M.A. programs, PhD. programs), without exception.


If the course can be taken by any student to fulfill a requirement in a program (undergraduate majors, M.A. programs, Ph.D. programs), but is not required.

Consider For

  • Global Core
    The instructor would like for this course to be considered by the Committee on the Global Core as one that will fulfill one-half of the two-semester global core requirement.

  • Science Requirement
    The instructor would like for this course to be considered by the Committee on Science Instruction as one that would fulfill one-half of the two-semester science requirement.

  • UG Language
    The instructor would like for this course to be considered by the Committee on Instruction as one that would fulfill part of the undergraduate language requirement.

Confirmation of Departments Consulted

Indicate here which departments have been consulted about the course (if any). If the course is required for students in a different department from the offering department, if it is being team-taught by faculty from different departments, or if it is jointly offered by two or more departments, then all relevant departments must have been consulted and their approval obtained before the course proposal is submitted to the COI.

Approval Online Signature

Only the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), or department chair/program director can submit approval for the form in order to move the form forward for consideration by the Committee on Instruction (COI). By signing this form, the Director of Undergraduate Studies/Director of Graduate Studies/chair/program director indicates that the department faculty have approved this course as one that fulfills a need within the department and is in keeping with the curricular goals of the department.