Montana State University

Course Description Information

Course offerings are subject to the availability of staff and adequate enrollment. Check the Schedule of Classes for the courses actually offered each semester.

Numbering System

  • 001-099 - courses below college level. No college credit given. Credits may not be counted toward a degree.
  • 100-199 - Freshman - Lower Division
  • 200-299 - Sophomore - Lower Division
  • 300-399 - Junior - Upper Division
  • 400-499 - Senior - Upper Division (Graduate courses with approval of student's program committee)
  • 500-599 - Graduate Courses
  • 600-699 - Graduate Courses

Core 2.0 Courses

Core 2.0 courses are designated by a letter following the course number (e.g. CLS 101US). the following letters are used to specify the core groups:

  • US - University Seminar
  • W - College Writing
  • Q - Quantitative Reasoning
  • D - Diversity
  • CS - Contemporary Issues in Science
  • IA - Inquiry Arts
  • IH - Inquiry Humanities
  • IN - Inquiry Natural Science
  • IS - Inquiry Social Science
  • R - Research
  • RA - Research Arts
  • RH - Research Humanities
  • RN - Research Natural Science
  • RS - Research Social Science

Classification of Courses

In the second line of each course description, following the number of credits for the course, there appears a course classification designation which indicates the mode of instruction for that course. In some cases two classifications are listed along with the number of credits in each.

Following is an explanation of course classifications.

  • LEC - Lecture: Presentation of course material by the instructor, utilizing the lecture method.
  • LAB - Laboratory: Instructing and supervising students in laboratory investigations.
  • STU - Studio: Instructing and supervising students in studio investigations.
  • RCT/DIS - Recitation-Discussion: Presentation of course materials designed to involve students in recitation and/or discussion.
  • SEM - Seminar: Students share, with the instructor, responsibility for preparation and presentation of course material.
  • IND - Independent Study: Directed study and/or research on an individual basis, under supervision of instructor.

Graduate Credit

Courses which may be taken for graduate credit are designated by a 500 or 600 number. 400 level courses may also be for graduate credit with the approval of student's program committee.

Uniform Course Numbers

Uniform numbers are used in all departments at the graduate level.

  • 570 - Independent Study
  • 575 - Graduate Research - Paper (professional paper or professional project)
  • 576 - Internship
  • 580 - Special Topics
  • 588 - Professional Development
  • 589 - Graduate Consultation
  • 590 - Master's Thesis
  • 689 - Reading and Research
  • 690 - Doctoral Thesis

Undergraduate and graduate courses may be repeated for credit. Specific titles of Special Topics courses are listed in the Schedule of Classes, on the Class Rolls and the student's permanent record. Courses such as Special Topics, Independent Study and Internship are offered for varying amounts of credit, e.g. 1-5. A maximum number of credits is also imposed e.g., Maximum 6 cr. A student may repeat such courses to earn the maximum number of credits by registering for two or more projects with the credits for each project totaling the maximum allowed. If there is no stated maximum for Internship, then all earned credits will count toward graduation, but these credits will only count toward meeting degree requirements as determined by the student's department. Credits earned beyond the stated maximum cannot be applied toward graduation.

Special Topics and Independent Study Courses

The maximum number of credits allowed toward graduation in special topic courses in each rubric is 12, and the maximum number of independent study credits in each rubric is six. Some departments have established lower limits than these, and the student is responsible for checking the specific course listings to see that he or she does not exceed the allowable number of credits. The maximum number of graduate independent study credits is applicable to a graduate degree depends upon the degree. No undergraduate independent study credits are applicable to a graduate degree.

Courses Offered on Demand

A course designated as "On demand" with a specific semester (i.e., F, S, Su) preceding this phrase means that the course will be offered that semester if there is sufficient demand.

Undergraduate courses designated as given "On demand" may be offered any semester in which there is a sufficient number of students who wish to register for the course. Usually undergraduate courses are offered at the request of 10 or more students.

Graduate courses listed "On demand" will be offered when a sufficient number of students have requested the course and faculty availability and budgets permit.

Courses Offered Alternate Years

Certain courses for which there is a small demand are offered every other year. the designation for such a course is: Semester (Alternate years, will be offered....dates....).

Undergraduate Course Prerequisites

Courses beyond the freshman year usually have "prerequisites." This means that certain lower-level courses must be taken before the student may register for the advanced course. A grade of "C-" or better must be earned in all prerequisite courses to satisfy the requirement.

The prerequisite for undergraduate courses may be "consent of instructor." The student must secure the consent of instructor of the course before registering for it. "Consent of instructor" is usually required for courses in which there is limited laboratory space and/or skills are required.

The Department of Mathematical Sciences enforces prerequisites. By University policy, in order for any course to serve as the prerequisite you must earn a "C-" or better. In addition to the specific prerequisite courses listed, students in 100 level math courses may also meet the prerequisite with the appropriate Math ACT, Math SAT, or Math Placement Exam score. Specific levels and scores for these courses can be found at:

Graduate Course Prerequisites

Courses at the 500 and 600 levels may be taken only by qualified students. Unless otherwise stated the courses are open only to:

  1. Students with graduate standing (post baccalaureate students admitted to the College of Graduate Studies, enrolled in non-degree status or second bachelor's degree candidates).

  2. Seniors with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or higher,


  3. Other seniors who have a petition approved by the head of the student's major department, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Some courses are limited to students with graduate standing or certain levels of graduate standing. These specific conditions are indicated within the course prerequisite or description statements.

Students below senior standing are not eligible to take graduate-level courses.

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