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Registration and Common Course Numbering: What You Need to Know

  • What prompted a change in common course numbering

The goal of common course numbering is to make transfer between schools easier for undergraduates. The New Mexico legislature passed laws in Spring of 2017 requiring that similar lower-division courses in community colleges and universities across the state share the same subject prefix and number.  A lower-division course is a course that, in the past, was numbered in the 100- or 200- range. Beginning with registration for Fall 2019, almost all lower-division courses will have common course numbers with a new 1000- and 2000- numbering system and a new subject prefix system. The same common course numbering will be used at every public college or university in New Mexico.

For common course numbering, the New Mexico Higher Education Department established universal subject prefixes for particular subjects, but the new universal prefixes only apply to lower-division (1000- and 2000-level) courses. At UNM we have classes at lower-division, upper-division, and graduate and professional levels. Because of common course numbering prefixes, students will, in some cases, see different subject prefixes for lower-division (1000- and 2000-) and upper-division (300- and 400-) and graduate and professional (500- and 600-) courses offered by the same department. 

By having new subject prefixes and numbers for lower division courses, UNM is complying with state law and helping students with transferring course.

Here are some examples of changes students might see, as well as things to watch out for when registering:

Example 1: Renumbering can make a course look like it is a completely different course:

PSY 105: General Psychology has been renumbered as PSYC 1110: Introduction to Psychology

Some students might just look at the number PSYC 1110 and title Introduction to Psychology and register for the course without realizing that they had already taken the same course PSY 105: General Psychology

in a previous semester.  So, students need to be careful when they register for lower-division courses to make sure that they don’t register for a course they have already taken under a different number and name.  Students can look up courses by old or new number or title here:

Example 2: Renumbering can make it hard to tell what courses belong to which departments or programs:

ENVS 101: The Blue Planet has been renumbered as GEOL 1120: Environmental Geology; the course is offered by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS).

When students go to register, they will need to pay attention to the differences between lower-division prefixes and upper-division prefixes within a single program or department.  Lower-division courses in Psychology, for instance, have the PSYC prefix, but upper-division courses have the PSY prefix. Lower-division courses in Earth and Planetary Sciences have the GEOL prefix, but upper-division courses have ENVS (Environmental Science) and EPS prefixes.

If students can’t figure out whether a lower-division course with a common course number counts for the core curriculum (general education) or for their major, their advisors are ready to help.  There is a list of subject prefixes by subject here:

  • How will this affect undergraduate and graduate students? 

Undergraduates who are taking lower-division courses (1000- and 2000- level) need to pay special attention when they register so that they don’t register for a course they have already taken and so that they take the course that meets the requirements they want to fulfill (for the core curriculum/general education or for their major).  Students who are taking only upper-division and graduate and professional courses won’t feel the impact of common course numbering.

When students look at the university catalog and departmental and program websites, they will need to be aware of old course numbers and new course numbers.  This process has moved so quickly that many sites have not been updated with new common course numbers. If students see a 100- or 200- number for a course on a website or in the catalog,  they need to look up the equivalent 1000- or 2000- new number:  However, there are a few 100- and 200-level courses that don’t have new numbers yet.

  • Why did registration time change to 7 a.m.? 

It seemed like it would be helpful for students if they didn’t have to stay up until midnight to begin registering.  Many UNM students have jobs and attend classes during the day. Being able to register beginning in the morning just makes life easier.

By law, UNM must use common course numbering for lower-division courses beginning with Fall 2019 courses.  Student transcripts will contain an explanation of the shift in numbering and what it all means. 

It’s really important to do some double-checking using the resources listed above and by checking with your advisor to make sure that you get the right classes.