C-1: DEVELOPING THE COURSE OFFERING

Principles Related to Developing the Course Offering

1. Responsibilities

Developing the course offering is a shared responsibility of the academic units and the Office of the University Registrar at University Park and the Commonwealth campus registrar offices. The academic units are responsible for determining which courses they will offer, section size and the number of offered sections, and the assignment of teaching faculty. The Registrar's Office is responsible for assigning general-purpose classrooms, recording college/department-controlled learning space, and publishing the Schedule of Courses. A joint responsibility is to distribute the assigned times such that courses and sections are appropriately distributed across the days of the week and periods of the day. This is required to maximize scheduling opportunities for students and to maximize the scheduling of learning space.

It is recognized that the size of the campus will lead to procedural differences among the various locations of the University. However, the principles presented within apply equally to all locations of the University.

2. Planning

The course offering process is an on-going analysis of past, current, and future course demand, whereby the academic unit determines what courses should be offered in future semesters. This analysis should focus on the several different types of courses the academic unit may offer:

--general education;
--courses required for majors, electives;
--special interest courses.

Faculty staffing issues such as proposed sabbatical leaves and pending research contracts that include released time and graduate assistant availability must also be considered.

The Office of the University Registrar is available to assist in the planning process by providing course offering, program summary, and student enrollment data to the academic unit.

3. Establishing the Course Offering

Academic units should give consideration to the following guidelines in establishing their course offering:

--Schedule courses required in the major.
--Schedule general education courses.
--Schedule other regular elective courses.
--Schedule special interest courses on a faculty- and space-available basis.
--As soon as possible, ideally at the time of the initial offering, assign faculty to all offered courses and sections.
--Identify courses that should not be scheduled in time conflict with other courses within and between academic units. This may require collaboration among multiple academic units.
--Identify specific classroom characteristics needed to support instruction, such as the need for technology.
--Specify course characteristics that will be helpful to students during registration.
--Where possible, offer additional sections and/or set higher section limits for typically over-demanded courses.
--Avoid offering courses with histories of being under-enrolled.

Academic units are strongly encouraged to complete their course offering as fully as possible starting with the initial publication. This action insures that the complete course offering is available to the largest number of students, advisers, and faculty.

4. Scheduling Periods

In an effort to provide maximum scheduling opportunities for students and to maximize utilization of the classroom and other learning facilities, standard scheduling periods (see 3 or more credits or less than 3 credits) should be used to the fullest extent possible. It is recognized that some courses, for pedagogical reasons, do not fit neatly into the standard scheduling periods; however, extensive use of non-standard scheduling patterns makes it difficult for students to create a viable class schedule, which can impede students' degree progress. It is therefore necessary to minimize the use of non-standard scheduling periods. If the use of non-standard scheduling periods is unavoidable, they must be approved by the College Dean/Campus Chancellor or designees and be scheduled according to the following criteria:

--Non-standard sequence courses should be scheduled outside of prime time (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)
--The class start time must align with the beginning of a standard scheduling period
--As much as possible, the class end time should align with the end of a standard scheduling period.

The academic unit recommends course-scheduling patterns. The campus Registrar has the final authority for determining the meeting times for all courses and for the assignment of general-purpose classrooms.

5. Distribution of Courses

Departments must distribute course offerings throughout the day according to the following criteria:

--Offer no more than 45% of the total department course offerings during prime time (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)

Departments must distribute course offerings across the days of the week according to the following criteria:

--Minimum of 15% of course offerings must be offered on each day of the week (Monday to Friday)
--Maximum of 30% of course offerings may be offered on any day of the week (Monday to Friday)

When calculating course distribution, every meeting period for every course section offered by the department is counted. In other words, a course section that meets three times a week counts as three.

Both the initial course offering and subsequent adjustments to the initial course offering must maintain the integrity of this distribution.

Academic units are permitted to schedule courses during the evening hours and on weekends.

6. Credit Courses of Less Than Full Semester Duration

Credit courses are normally scheduled for a full semester. Courses that are shorter than a full semester can be scheduled with the approval of the appropriate academic unit. The distribution of time between in-class activities and outside preparation varies from course to course (see Faculty Senate policy 42-23).

Several issues should be considered when an academic unit considers the offering of a credit course or combination of courses on a less-than-full semester basis such as:

--The student population expected to schedule the course;
--Whether the partial-semester course would prevent students from scheduling a normal load of full- semester courses;
--The academic and resource implications generated by the partial-semester course;
--The learning outcomes differences that may occur in the selection of full-or partial-semester courses.

7. Publication of the Schedule of Courses

The course offering for a given semester is published approximately five months prior to the semester for which that offering is intended (dates may vary at campuses). The official and preferred University publication is on the World Wide Web. Included in the Web publication are all credit courses offered at all locations of the University.


Revised: ACUE (3-4-99)
Revised: Editorial (1-20-10)
Revised: ACUE (6-6-13)


The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.