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Course Numbering Guidelines

Certain catalog numbers are reserved for specific types of courses. This scheme is applicable to courses in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, and The Graduate School.

Catalog numbers are unique to each course and cannot be reused within four years of being active. Catalog numbers that include a suffix cannot be used for a different course. In other words, SUBJECT 101 (lecture-only course) must be the same course as SUBJECT 101S (seminar version of course), 101A (study away version), 101L (lecture and lab version), etc.

To find available catalog numbers, see Help guide: Finding Available Catalog Numbers and consult the charts below.

To request a list of all courses owned by and/or crosslisted with your department (active, inactive, or both), email bulletins@duke.edu. This request may only be made once; after receipt, departments will be responsible for maintaining this list.

General Guidelines
Catalog NumberCourse Type
  • Advanced Placement credit
  • House courses
  • First-year seminars
  • First-year writing courses
  • Registrar/department special purpose
  • Introductory-level undergraduate courses
  • Basic skills/activity courses
  • Foundation courses
  • Focus Program courses
200-399Undergraduate courses above introductory level
400-499Advanced undergraduate courses (senior seminars, capstone courses, honors thesis courses)
500-699Graduate courses open to advanced undergraduates
700-999Graduate-only courses (not open to undergraduates)
SuffixCourse Type
ACourses that are taught away from Duke’s Durham campus, e.g., study abroad or domestic away programs.
DCourse has a discussion section (for a larger class).
FSCourse is part of the Focus Program.
LCourse includes laboratory experience.
PPreceptorial (small class)
SSeminar (small class)
TTutorial (small class)
Reserved and Assigned Course Numbers
Course NumberCourse TypeSpecial Notes
0-19 Reserved for Registrar
20-29Advanced Placement credit 
59House courses 



  • First-year writing courses
  • Other first-year non-major courses
  • First-year seminars
91-99Department special use 
90, 100, 200, 300, 400Transfer course creditFor transfer courses with no Duke course equivalent.
(101 for introductory course in unit)
  • Introductory courses
  • Basic skills or activity courses
  • Foundation courses
  • Focus Program courses
Gateway courses to the major or to certificate programs may be at 100 or 200 level; Focus Program courses may be at 200-level in certain circumstances.
Special Topics  
190, 290, 390, 490UndergraduateThese numbers reserved for special topics courses, which have variable topics each semester.
(May use dash and digit (ex. 190-1) to indicate subcategories.)
590, 690Graduate/advanced undergraduate 
790, 890, 990Graduate/professional only 
Independent Study/
Honors Thesis
291-292, 391-392, 491-492Undergraduate (non-research)Independent Studies spanning two or more semesters use numbers in sequence.
591-592, 691-692Graduate/advanced undergraduate (non-research) 
791-792Graduate/professional only 
293-294, 393-394, 493-494Undergraduate (research—R code must be requested when course is created)Research Independent Studies spanning two or more semesters use numbers in sequence.
593-594, 693-694Graduate/advanced undergraduate (research—R code must be requested when course is created) 
793-794Graduate/professional only (research) 
495-496Honors Thesis courses 
Foreign Language Courses  
101-102Beginning level
  • Language departments do not use 201, 202
  • All courses above the intermediate level taught in the FL must be at the 300-level or above
111Intensive beginning 
203-204Intermediate level 
212Intensive intermediate 
300+Advanced level 
501-502Reading knowledge only coursesGraduate courses for academic research may not carry FL code.

Courses offered under the special topics course numbers (e.g., 190, 290L, 390S) are offered on a one-time basis; they are not part of a department’s regularly taught curriculum (permanent courses). Special topics are used by faculty who wish to teach a very specialized subject on a one-time basis, or to try out a new course that may eventually become a permanent course. Special topics may also be used for specialized courses taught by visiting faculty.

Because the particular topic will be different each time the course is taught, departments must apply for the appropriate curricular codes using the Special Topics form on the Course Request System each time the course is offered. Even if a particular topic has been offered in a previous semester, the curriculum codes will not carry over on DukeHub unless the Special Topic Request form has been submitted for the current semester. The topic title and any crosslisted offerings in the request must match the primary department’s submission in CLSS; requests that do not match exactly will not be reviewed until any issues are rectified.

Only approved special topics courses and curriculum codes may be advertised by a department. Departments should confirm that their special topic titles and codes have been approved and applied to the schedule of classes before promoting them on a departmental website or social media account.

See Trinity’s guidelines for Course Requests for additional information regarding special topics courses.

Course Request System

Requests for all courses within Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, and The Graduate School are submitted to the Office of Curriculum and Course Development and reviewed by the Faculty Committee on Courses, a standing committee of the Arts & Sciences Council.

Departments must use the Course Request System to add, drop, or revise regular courses and to request coding for Special Topics courses. See the Guide to the Duke University Course Request System for help submitting a request.

Once a request has been reviewed by the committee, the status will read either Submitted to Registrar (Approved) or Courses Committee – Declined. Users should look at the bottom of the request in the Courses Committee Review section to see if there are any committee comments. Approved curriculum codes will appear at the bottom of any request; if codes are denied, the decision will be explained in the committee’s comments.

Course Request Status Guide


Course information is in the process of being added to the form.

Department - In Progress

Request has been sent to the DUS/DGS for departmental review information. The DUS/DGS will review and sign the form with their netID at this point. All crosslisted offerings must also receive director approval by the respective department.

Department - Revisions Needed

Request has been returned to department. Instructions will be provided when request is returned.

Submitted to Courses Committee

Request has completed the departmental review process, has obtained all crosslisted departmental authorizations (if applicable), and has been submitted for approval. The Registrar’s Office may contact the department for revisions while the Courses Committee reviews the request.

Courses Committee - In Progress

Request is being reviewed by the Courses Committee.

Courses Committee - Declined

Committee has denied the request.

Submitted to Graduate School

Request has been approved by the Courses Committee and has been submitted for Graduate School approval.

Graduate School - In Progress

Request is being reviewed by The Graduate School.

Graduate School - Declined

The Graduate School has denied the request.

Submitted to Registrar

All applicable committee(s) have approved the request.

Registrar - In Progress

Registrar is working on the request.

Registrar - Processed

Registrar has processed the request and updated the catalog/schedule, as applicable.

Changes processed after schedules have been submitted for effective term may not immediately appear on scheduled offering(s). Please allow time for additional processing. To avoid this issue, make sure to submit requests on time.

Course Requests from Professional Schools

All Duke professional schools except the School of Medicine use the Course Request Form to add, revise, or drop courses from the course catalog. One action may be requested per form. This form should not to be used to request changes to the class schedule for any particular term.

Users will receive an email summary of the request upon submission and another when the request has been processed. Direct all inquiries regarding the form to bulletins@duke.edu.