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Programs and Curriculum Policies

GCAC-203 Graduate Course Designations

Purpose: This policy describes graduate course numbers and which categories of courses may count towards graduate degrees.

Academic Goal: Graduate course number designations define who may enroll in graduate courses, and form the basis for which courses may be applied towards fulfilling the requirements of a graduate degree program.

Scope: This policy applies to all graduate students and to undergraduate students who wish to enroll in graduate courses.



Penn State courses are numbered as follows:

Undergraduate Courses (1 to 399): General courses accepted in fulfillment of requirements for the bachelor's degrees.

Advanced Undergraduate Courses (400 to 499): Courses open to graduate students and to juniors and seniors and, with the special written permission of the head of the department or the chair of the program sponsoring the course, to qualified students in earlier semesters.

Graduate Courses (500 to 699; 800 to 899): Courses restricted to students registered in the Graduate School, seniors with an average of at least 3.50 (500- and 800-level only; excludes 600-level), and other students who have been granted permission to enroll by the dean of the Graduate School. These courses are described in the Penn State Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin.

Medical Courses (700-799): Courses restricted to students registered in the College of Medicine. These courses are described in the Penn State College of Medicine Programs Bulletin.

Law Courses (900-999): Courses restricted to students registered in Penn State Law and Dickinson Law. These courses are described in the Penn State Law and Dickinson Law Programs Bulletins.

Policy Statement

  1. Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Refer to GCAC-204 Graduate Course Definitions for the distinction between 500- and 800-level courses.
  2. Courses in the series 1–399 are strictly undergraduate courses and yield no graduate credit.
    1. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for a graduate degree.
    2. Language courses used to meet foreign language requirements are exceptions, as are the ESL courses for international students. These courses may be used under certain circumstances to fulfill graduate degree requirements.
  3. Courses in the series 400–499 are for upper class undergraduate students with at least junior standing and for graduate students.
    1. These courses may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students.
    2. Only a limited number of credits earned in these courses may be counted toward the requirements for a graduate degree.
    3. Refer to policies in GCAC-600 Research Degree Requirements and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Requirements.
  4. Courses in the series 500–599 and 800-899 are restricted to students registered in the Graduate School, senior undergraduate students with a grade-point average of at least 3.50, and certain other students with grade-point averages of at least 3.00 who have been granted special permission to enroll through the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. (See GCAC-507 Undergraduate Students Taking Graduate Courses).
  5. Courses in the series 600-699 are restricted to students enrolled in graduate degree programs.

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

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