Cross-level Listing of Undergraduate/Graduate Courses
University Policy Number 3002
Categorized: Academic Policies
Responsible Office: Office of the Provost
Related Law & Policy:
- Principles of Accreditation, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- George Mason University Faculty Credentialing Manual
This policy applies to all credit-bearing courses.
II. POLICY STATEMENT
Although normally undergraduate and graduate courses are separate and distinct from each other, there are circumstances in which academic units may wish to teach certain graduate and undergraduate courses together. This policy provides explicit guidelines for offering cross-level listed courses and distinguishes these offerings from ordinary cross-listed courses.
In general, academic units are encouraged to offer distinct undergraduate and graduate courses. Prerequisites for each should be made explicit, using existing courses to the extent possible. However, when cross-level listings of graduate and undergraduate courses are deemed appropriate, academic units must adhere to the following guidelines:
A. Specific, unique expectations are provided for each course. Separate syllabi are established for each course.
- Assessment measures such as exams, written assignments, computational exercises, etc. should delve more deeply into the content area and be more difficult or complex at the graduate level.
- The expectations and learning outcomes of each course must be commensurate with the level of that course. For graduate students, these expectations and outcomes must include more advanced learning through additional, more sophisticated reading, research projects, course facilitation and/or experiential activities. These expectations must be clearly differentiated from expectations of undergraduate students and must be clearly documented in the syllabus.
- The central expectation for graduate students is not only that they will do morework, but that they will also do more advanced work than undergraduate students.
B. Prerequisites should be appropriate for both courses. Required knowledge should be the same or comparable for both courses, or more significant for the graduate course.
- A graduate course could require the same prerequisite as an undergraduate course, or, depending on the circumstances, a prerequisite might be required for only one level (e.g., either undergraduate or graduate). A graduate student, by virtue of having been admitted to a specific graduate program, may meet the prerequisite requirement automatically and be eligible to enroll.
- Use of the “permission of the instructor” restriction would allow for individual instructor discretion regarding a student’s preparation for the course content and may facilitate the verification of prerequisite knowledge and efficient enrollment.
C. Courses should be close in number designations.
Undergraduate and graduate cross-listing should occur within the context of general expectations about both cross-listing and course numbering.
- Only upper-level undergraduate courses (3xx and 4xx) and lower level-graduate courses (5xx and 6xx) may be cross-level listed.
- Cross-level listed course pairings must not be more than two levels apart. That is, 300-level courses may pair only with 500-level courses, while 400-level courses may be cross-level listed with either 500- or 600-level courses. Exceptions to this policy are rare and must be approved by the Associate Provost for Graduate Education before the courses are entered into the official University schedule.
- 700-, 800-, and 900-level graduate courses cannot be cross-level listed with undergraduate courses, except in special cases such as colloquia, special seminars, individual research projects, etc. If courses are listed in this manner, the instructor or department must provide additional justification and receive the dean’s approval.
- The course content for the undergraduate and graduate level courses must be sufficiently similar to warrant cross-level listing and to protect against undergraduate level students from enrolling in a course for which they are unprepared.
D. Course titles must be related, but do not have to be identical.
E. Courses not eligible or not approved for cross-level listing may not be co-located in the same classroom and taught together. They must be taught separately.
F. Faculty teaching cross-level listed courses must meet minimum requirements for teaching graduate-level coursework in the course discipline as required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and as detailed in the Mason Faculty Credentialing Manual.
G. Teaching assistants (TAs) within cross-level listed courses must be graduate students.
Cross-listing refers to the practice of offering one course under two or more subject codes and course numbers, e.g. HIST 393/ FAVS 399 – U.S. Documentaries of China. Students may enroll through either course number and take the same course.
Cross-level listing refers to offering two courses, one undergraduate and one graduate, in the same time and place, generally with the same instructor. However, for cross-level listing, only the classroom experience is shared; the graduate course is expected to have distinct content and learning outcomes that are more advanced than the undergraduate course and identified in a separate syllabus.
Deans and school- or college-level units are responsible for ensuring that departments within their units comply with this policy and for maintaining documentation on the approval of cross-level listed courses. Deans of these units are also responsible for approving exceptions to this policy and maintaining documentation on such exceptions.
The Office of the Provost is responsible for ensuring that this information will be distributed to departments and scheduling officers in the scheduling instructions provided by the Office of the Registrar.
V. OTHER INFORMATION
The substance of this policy was recommended for approval by the Academic Policies Committee Task Force on Undergraduate/Graduate Cross-listing, by the Faculty Senate on March 3, 2010 and by the Graduate Council on April 21, 2010. The policy was revised in 2021 for compliance purposes and to ensure clarity.
Deans and directors of college-level units are expected to ensure that their units remain in compliance with this policy.
VII. EFFECTIVE DATE
August 15, 2010
VIII. FREQUENCY OF REVIEW AND UPDATE
This policy will be reviewed annually by the Office of the Provost and revised as necessary.
Maurice W. Scherrens
Senior Vice President
Peter N. Stearns
Date approved: August 25, 2010
Revised: March 5, 2021