Posted February 6, 2007

Temple course numbers updated, simplified for consistency

This spring, Temple is implementing a new initiative to renumber nearly 7,000 courses, greatly expanding a decades-old system that has become confusing and too compressed.


The change, said interim Provost Richard M. Englert, will help faculty, students and their advisors by making course progressions more transparent, make it easier for students to understand what courses they need for graduation and help departments find numbers for new courses.

“The [numbering] system hadn’t been reviewed for many years, and it was time to restructure the system so courses could easily be identified,” Englert said. “We wanted to make it easier for students to gauge their progress from orientation through graduation.”

Under the old system, course numbers differed greatly from one department to the next, Englert said. The new system creates a uniform classification of all university courses. The system allots the numbers 1000-1999 to freshman courses; 2000-2999 to sophomores; 3000-3999 to juniors, and 4000-4999 to seniors. Graduate courses will be numbered from 8000-9999.

“Students will now be able to look at the first number of the course and determine its academic level. The system will be used across the university to ensure consistency,” he said.

The new numbers will be in use beginning with this summer’s sessions to test the system for any possible problems before the big transition for the fall semester. Since registration for summer and fall sessions begins in March, courses with their new numbers are now available in the guide to registration, the course description guide, the online course schedule and OWLnet.

While almost all university courses are getting a numerical face-lift, courses in the professional schools (Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy and Podiatric Medicine) and graduate courses in the Law School have remained unchanged. All other courses that have been offered since fall 2002 have been renumbered.

The effects of the renumbering will be virtually pain-free, Englert assured. Students will be able to view the courses they need in order to graduate with their new numbers on their DARS documents, available through Owlnet. During the transition period, courses will display their new number as well as the old course number.

The change will have little affect on faculty members, as well. According to Englert, they will need to revise any documents they have that list course numbers, such as syllabi, homework assignments, Blackboard sites, etc. Departmental advisors will need to familiarize themselves with the new numbers and their conventions to simplify the advising process.

For information or questions about the renumbering project, visit the renumbering Web site at

Computer Services' behind-the-scenes effort
When a committee of administrators and faculty representing a wide range of University departments decided that for simplicity and uniformity Temple should update its course numbering system, they knew that Computer Services must be involved from the start.

Transforming the identity of nearly 7,000 courses, the technical implementation team — spearheaded by Myra Taksa, the associate director of Computer Services — had a huge task before it.

“First, to see how much work there would be, we had to sit down and make a list of all the places on Temple’s computer systems where course numbers were used,” Taksa said.

Sounds easy, right? Not exactly.

Taksa and members of her team, which consisted of nearly 15 people, combed through software code until they found every location a course number was referenced on student systems.

While members of the team were gathering this information, other members were creating spreadsheets to send to each college and school containing the old course numbers for each course that had been offered since fall 2002. After the deans, their committees and the Office of the Provost were finished renumbering, the spreadsheets were e-mailed back to Computer Services, where they were double-checked electronically for any mistakes or duplications.

As soon as the numbers were in, the team began writing a program that would make the course numbering conversion as simple as the click of a mouse. The program had to be used to convert all courses from their old three-digit identity to their new and improved four-digit identity.

“This was the first time that Temple has undertaken a renumbering project this big,” Taksa revealed. “Before we even began the project, we researched the methods that other universities have used to renumber their courses to see the best way to accomplish a project this extensive.”

The change, said Computer Services Associate Vice President Barbara Dolhansky, was similar to the work that many of her staff did during the TUid project.

“It’s a lot of work when you make system changes that impact everyone at the university because everyone expects, as they should, that accurate information will be there,” she said. “They really shouldn’t have to worry about how it gets there.”