The first part of a college course code is a series of letters indicating the course’s general subject. This is the course prefix that defines the department where the course will be taught. For instance, “Fin” for Finance department, “MAT” for Math department, “ACCT” for accounting department, “CS” for Computer Science department etc.
The second part of a course code is a series of numbers. These are often three digits long, but many institutions use four or even five digits. These numbers are the main way the courses are organized in a catalog.
No two courses will share the exact same course number. The most useful thing for students to understand about these numbers is how to distinguish between upperlevel credit and lower-level credit.
100-200 courses are “lowerdivision” courses—often covering a wide range of foundational topics. 300-400 courses are “upperdivision” courses. These courses provide more in-depth study, frequently in the student’s last two years of undergraduate studies.
The second and third digits in a course number are used in a variety of ways. While there isn’t a universal rule for what each number means in relation to each other, the main idea is just to distinguish different courses that are from the same department at the same level.
The third element of a course code is obvious: the name of the course. A course’s name tells what that course is about, and is actually the most useful way to compare courses.
A course description is a general explanation of its topics and teaching methodology. This will give you added information about the course and the way it’s taught.