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upper division

Upper Division Courses

The primary function of upper division courses is to refine students' abilities as independent learners.  Upper division courses enable students to study a major field in depth by building upon and integrating the knowledge they have gained in the lower division.  General Education upper division courses help students integrate the knowledge they have acquired in the core curriculum. 
Upper division courses are characterized by a flexible structure, which allows for a variety of approaches to the subject matter, a wide range of course material, and an emphasis on independent study and/or research in the laboratory, library, studio, or community.  Students are expected to accept increasing responsibility for their own learning both inside and outside the classroom.  Upper division courses strongly emphasize comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application of knowledge.  Evaluation of student performance at this level stresses such outcomes as comprehension and understanding of concepts, the ability to solve problems, and to integrate knowledge. 

Upper division courses are numbered 300, 400, and 500. Typically, they build on the prerequisite background of the lower division.  They also may have one or more of the following characteristics: 

  • They are built on a foundation of prerequisite lower division courses in a discipline or related field of study.
  • They synthesize knowledge from several specific areas in discipline or from related disciplines.
  • They are courses designed to integrate knowledge and skills from different areas of a discipline or from General Education categories or perspectives.


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