The Montana University System will create a common course numbering system (CCNS).

Two Separate, but related, Proposals:

1. The board requests CCNS for 100-200 courses within 18 months.

2. The board requests CCNS for 300-400 courses within 36 months.


Management will have discretion on the "means" to achieve this "end."

In my research for this proposal, I learned that Texas (along with other states) has a very successful common course numbering system. The Texas Common Course Numbering System is an effort among Texas community colleges and universities to facilitate transfer of academic coursework.

A CCNS provides a shared, uniform set of course designations for students and their advisors to use in determining both course equivalency and degree applicability of transfer credit on a statewide basis. When students transfer between two participating CCNS institutions, a course taken at the sending institution transfers as the course carrying, or cross-referenced with, the same CCNS designation at the receiving institution.

To date, 110 institutions of higher learning in Texas participate in their CCNS project. Most community colleges have replaced their internal course numbering systems with CCNS designations; a few have not and, like universities, cross-reference their courses with CCNS.

In Montana, each course might be identified by a four-character "rubric" (i.e. prefix or department abbreviation) and a four-digit number. Many other state wide higher education systems with common course numbering might identify a course as such:

ACCT 2301

Rubric : A four character alphabetic abbreviation of the academic discipline.

First Digit : The level of the course. In this case, sophomore.

Second Digit : The credit value of the course. In this case, three credit hours.

Third & Fourth : Used to uniquely identify the course.

There maybe some costs associated with implementing a CCNS. There will also certainly be savings due to efficiency. Also, students transferring within the system will benefit greatly from a CCNS.


1.         Common course numbering will provide a system-wide standard for naming, numbering and establishing content for all college courses.

2.         A common course numbering enables employers to evaluate course content regardless of the school their prospective employees attend.

3.         Standardization of courses in all program areas benefits students who must transfer from one MUS college to the next, in vocational and technical programs as well as college transfer, and those students who transfer to a four-year college or university.

4.         In a CCNS, related programs are streamlined, consolidated and renamed with emphasis on career and degree pathways for students. Consistent standards for completion requirements are developed for degrees, diplomas and certificates.

5.         Articulation with public schools, colleges and other universities in and outside Montana will be improved because of a CCNS.

6.         Administrative costs associated with articulation will be reduced.

7.         Alignment with other education systems across the nation will be improved.

8.         The conversion process to CCNS will provide for a systematic evaluation and revision of all curriculum programs and courses. The state saves money because unnecessary program duplication will be reduced.

There may be costs associated with implementing a CCNS. For board consideration on CCNS, please also include information from the following web-site:


Submitted by Student Regent Hur
January 16-17, 2003