Rethinking Crosslisted Courses

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Crosslisted courses have a long history at UGA and we currently have 1,663 such courses in our database. While many courses are crosslisted with just one additional prefix, such as CLAS(ANTH) 2000, others are crosslisted with multiple prefixes. Here’s one example: AFST(ANTH)(CMLT)(GEOG)(SOCI)(RELI) 2100. Despite the long-standing practice of using crosslisted courses on our campus, many of the reasons for crosslisted courses are no longer valid. In fact, extensive use of crosslisted courses actually limits our ability to do other things such as developing waitlists, streamlining reports or estimating student demand for various courses across multiple semesters.

To address these, we recently began to investigate the use of crosslisted courses and to understand the rationale for them. To our surprise, we discovered a number of misconceptions or myths about crosslisting. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • The interdisciplinary nature of my course will not be apparent unless it is crosslisted with multiple prefixes:This is not the case. Interdisciplinary courses may, in fact, be taught under one prefix with the interdisciplinary nature of the course reflected in the course title and description. Changes in course title and description are easily done in CAPA.
  • My department needs crosslisting because its program requirements should only include one prefix, the one associated with the discipline of the program: In reality, programs can include prefixes of many disciplines. In fact, having a diversity of prefixes on a transcript may have some advantages for the students as it could show greater breadth of areas of study within that discipline.
  • If my course is not crosslisted, my department won’t get credit hour funding: Again, this is not the case. Credit hour funding is tied to the paying department of the instructor teaching the course. Crosslisting has no impact on the credit hour funding.

Having extensive crosslisting creates significant challenges or missed opportunities for students, advisors and faculty. Here are a few examples:

  • When attempting to register for a class in Athena, a student typically sees a long list of acceptable classes (see screenshot below–I think you will agree that it is rather overwhelming!) when in fact, most of these are simply crosslisted sections of the same course. Reducing the number of crosslisted courses will make this simpler for students and advisors.
  • Students often sign up for the same class twice, once under one prefix and again under one of the crosslisted prefixes. In most cases, students cannot use both courses for degree credit. When this happens, it  can lead to unnecessary credits and a delay in graduating. Furthermore, the Educational Affairs Committee needs to spend considerable time reviewing and deciding on appeals that relate to such confusions.
  • Having different prefixes can diversify the students’ transcripts, which may appeal to graduate and professional schools and to employers that are looking to see the types of courses a student completed. Having a course that satisfies degree requirements but that also has a prefix outside a major course may look better on a transcript and paint a broader picture of a student’s knowledge base.
  • Minimizing crosslisting allows us to add “waitlists” to these classes. Waitlisting, which is not available for crosslisted courses, is a feature in Athena that has proven to be a tremendous asset for students, faculty, departments, schools and colleges. Students simply join a queue to register for the courses they need that are already filled, instead of having to manually log in repeatedly to see if a seat in that class has opened up. Departments/Colleges also benefit from waitlisting because they can see the demand for specific courses and can open up additional sections when needed. Waitlisting provides schools and colleges with evidence of the demand for courses for planning for future allocation of resources.
  • Minimizing crosslisted courses will also make the CAPA course change/approval process more efficient. When a crosslisted course has many prefixes, all of the departments must approve any change to the course, often creating unnecessary bottlenecks in the approval process. Crosslisted courses in Banner are linked in multiple places, so if courses have only one prefix, Banner and DegreeWorks will load more quickly for basic functions.
  • Similarly, Desire2Learn in eLC will be easier to maintain and manage. Right now significant additional work is necessary to manage crosslisted courses. Administrators and staff will be able to simplify the loading of courses and more accurately and clearly report course data by removing the additional course sections necessitated by crosslisting.

Reducing the number of crosslisted courses will clearly offer several benefits for students, faculty, and staff. To achieve this, the Office of Curriculum Systems will begin reaching out to departments with crosslisted courses soon. Our goal is to minimize the number of crosslisted courses to the extent possible. However, we understand that crosslisting often serves an essential purpose. In such cases, the Office of Curriculum Systems will attempt to find alternate solutions to crosslisting or retain the crosslisted sections. Either way, we hope to ensure that the needs of individual departments and colleges are met while streamlining  the course registration and CAPA processes, ensuring wider implementation of waitlists and other tools, and generally simplifying the business procedures related to courses and registration.

If at any time you have questions about changing your crosslisted courses, please contact the staff in the Office of Curriculum Systems at They will be happy to work with you.  

If you have any other suggestions to improve our business processes in instruction, please send me a note to

Rahul Shrivastav
Vice President for Instruction