Course Proposal: Basic Catalog Information

First Available Term:  

The action of publishing the creation, changing, or deactivating of a course occurs three (3) times a year at the start of the fall, spring and summer terms. This is commonly referred to as the effective date or effective term.

On new proposals, select the first term listed in the dropdown, even if that's not the term when the course will be offered. This allows the course to be built in the Student Information System (SIS) and indicates when it can be used in curricular requirements in Guide, Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS), and the Graduate Student Tracking System (GSTS). Being built in SIS as soon as possible after approval allows seamless scheduling.

On change proposals, determine when that change must take effect:

    • A catalog number or subject change should go into effect for a fall term. This aligns with Guide publication and minimizes the need for changes mid-year.
    • Does this change need to be in effect for the start of a cohort? Which term do those students start?
    • When will this course be scheduled?
    • Do these changes need to be implemented mid-year?
    • Do these changes have a large impact on the curriculum? If so, it's best to use a fall term.
    • It is possible to select a later term if there is a reason why the course should not appear in campus publications or be available for use in the Guide until a later date.

Deactivation proposals submitted will always be processed for the term in which the course is reviewed at the University Curriculum Committee, regardless of the term selected in the dropdown. This allows for appropriate data retention and minimizes proposals sitting in workflow until they can be processed. Deactivation proposals will never be processed if there is student enrollment. Deactivation proposals for a course that has enrollment which has already been approved for deactivation by the School/College will not be reviewed by the UCC until there is zero enrollment. The proposal will be rolled back to the School/College until the course can be reviewed and processed in the same term.

There are deadlines for when changes to an existing course may be made effective based on the publication of the Schedule of Classes. If the proposer has selected an effective term and the deadline has passed for that term, the proposal will be updated administratively for the effective term that is the first available at that point in time. The deadlines for the current academic year are published as part of the University Curriculum Committee meeting calendar.

Should this course have the graduate attribute?

If no is selected: the audience for the course is assumed to be undergraduate students and the course number will be restricted to 1 - 699 and the section of the form for course designations will be available.

If yes is selected the proposer must also indicate whether the course will:

    • Enroll undergraduates and graduate or professional students - the course number will be restricted to 300 - 699 and the section of the form for course designations will be available.
    • Enroll graduate or professional students only - the course number will be restricted to 300 - 999 and the section of the form for course designations will not be available. If the course is numbered below 700 the course requisites should limit the course to graduate or professional students.

The course requisites must align with the intended audience of the course.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Attribute for Graduate Level.


The selection of a subject impacts the approval workflow for the proposal. While anyone can propose a course in any subject listing, all proposals must be approved by the department that owns the subject listing and the school or college that owns that department. The same is true with any cross-list partners that are selected.

Course number:    

Must be between 1 and 999.

The course proposal system is programmed to display an error message if a selected course number is not available because it is currently in use or has been deactivated and had enrollment in the past 8 years (inclusive of transfer or study abroad). An error message will also appear of the course number does not align with the response to the graduate attribute question.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Numbers.

Is this course cross-listed?  

All cross-list partners:

    • must have the selected course number available for use
    • are considered equal partners in owning and maintaining the course (When a class is offered in a given term a "primary" is designated for scheduling and enrollment management purposes, this is distinct from the overall responsibility for the course which is shared equally.)

Proposers are asked to consider carefully whether it is necessary to cross-list a course. Please recognize that there are very few "good" reasons for cross-listing courses. Cross-listing is a vestige of a time when the class schedule (aka Timetable) and catalog were paper only and it was more difficult for students to search and find courses. Today, students use google and other search tools to locate what they are looking for using key words. Students will be far more likely to find a course if the title and description contain the key words they are using in searches. Cross-listing does not give a subject/department "credit" in the budget allocation or other campus reporting systems. The interdisciplinary nature of many courses and the fact that there are over 180 subject listings also make it difficult to use subjects as an effective tool for categorizing and searching for courses.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (cross-listing).

Course Title:   

This field has a character limit of 100. This is the title that is used in Course Guide, Guide, Canvas and other campus systems and publications where space is not an issue. Titles should be unique in most situations. Exceptions would include independent/directed study and other similar courses where the title simply describes the basic activity of the course (ex. Research and Thesis, Directed Study etc.).

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Course Titles).

Transcript Title:   

This field has a character limit of 30. This is the title that appears on the student transcript.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Course Titles).

Course Description:  

This field has a character limit of 1000. The description should briefly and succinctly describe the content, purpose or primary skills developed in the course that will be common across all offerings of the course regardless of instructor.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Descriptions).


Populates with the text that describes the enforced requisite (aka requirement group) as coded in SIS. On a change proposal, revise the requisite text to represent the new required preparation for the course.

Requisites are the required academic preparation necessary to be successful in the course. This should not be used for enrollment management purposes.

Grading basis:   

This determines what options are available to the course instructor when entering final grades.

Available grading bases include:

    • A-F
    • Credit/No Credit
    • Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Available for certain graduate-level courses only.
    • School of Veterinary Medicine grading option
Courses numbered 681 or 691 - Contact about the creation of or changes to courses with these numbers. There is an additional, small administrative step that is needed.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Grading Basis).

Component Type:  

Component types are used for scheduling and reporting purposes, they are not intended to describe the instructional methods of the course. If the course is exclusively online, select only a single component.

    • Lecture (LEC) - the most typically used component, covers most group instruction
    • Seminars (SEM) - generally these are small discussion oriented courses
    • Field Studies (FLD) - takes place in a work setting
    • Discussion (DIS) - attached to a lecture where the discussion is a subset of the lecture enrollment
    • Laboratory (LAB) - hands on learning 
    • Independent study (IND) - one-on-one instruction, no group instruction

Course Components that may be used in combination:

    • Lecture/Discussion
    • Lecture/Laboratory
    • Lecture/Discussion/Laboratory
    • Lecture/Laboratory/Field Studies
    • Laboratory/Discussion
    • Lecture/Field Studies

A course with a single meeting pattern (ex. MWF 8:50 - 9:40) would likely be either LEC, SEM or LAB etc. depending on the size and purpose. A course where a student needs to enroll in 2 components (ex. MWF 8:50 - 9:40 and one of several 1x/week sessions) would likely be LEC/DIS or LEC/LAB etc.

The sample syllabus must include information about all components selected.


UW-Madison has a credit hour policy that must be observed by all for-credit courses. This policy also applies to courses not just when they are proposed but each time they are offered.

Variable credit courses should be entered as #-# (ex. 3-4).

The syllabus provided must reflect the maximum credit offering.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Variable Credits).

Is this a topics course?  

All versions of a topics course with the same subject/course number combination must have a common set of learning outcomes. Additional learning outcomes may be added on a topic by topic basis.

For more information, see the Policy on Course Proposal Elements (Topics Courses).


Can a student successfully complete this course, for credit, more than once? 

Total completions:   

If a course is repeatable, what is the limit on the number of times it may be repeated for credit? This is represented in the number of times the student enrolls and completes a course (earning at least a D and thus receiving credit). The default is 99, enter this if the student may repeat the course for credit as many times as they choose.

Multiple enrollments:   

Commonly used with topics courses where each section represents a separate, stand alone course. Answering yes would allow an individual student to enroll in the course more than once in a given term. 

Does this course need a scheduled two-hour final exam for fall and spring offerings?  

This question appears only on new course proposals numbered 698 or lower because it is a required part of the course catalog entry in SIS. It is used by the Office of the Registrar and is not governance approved course information. It can be changed at a later date by contacting the Office of the Registrar.

See Also:

Keywords:course proposal   Doc ID:78202
Owner:Melissa S.Group: Lumen and Guide
Created:2017-11-12 18:16 CSTUpdated:2022-12-19 08:59 CST
Sites: Lumen and Guide
Feedback:  0   0