Office of the University Registrar

Curriculum Prefix Policy Guidelines

When to Create a New Prefix

  1. The department/program has more than one distinct academic curriculum that warrants separate designation (e.g. the prefixes ANTH, ARCHY, and BIOA all belong to the Department of Anthropology).
  2. Creation of a new academic department/program (e.g. The Public Health major moving from the College of Arts and Sciences Individualized Studies major to a School of Public Health major and needing a designated prefix for the curriculum – SPH).
  3. The department/program has too many courses to fit within one prefix (e.g. LAW, LAW A, LAW B, LAW E, LAW H, and LAW T).
  4. The department/program has received approval to change name and focus of the program, curriculum, and major (e.g. The Women’s Studies department becoming Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, changing their prefix from WOMEN to GWSS).

New Prefix Requirements and Restrictions

  1. A prefix can contain up to 6 characters which are a combination of letters and spaces.
  2. Two-letter prefixes must have a space between the letters.
  3. A prefix should reflect the academic content of the courses taught under that prefix and not the name of the department or program (e.g., Biology = BIOL; Program on the Environment = ENVIR not POE).
  4. A prefix cannot include the degree designation as part of the prefix (e.g. Masters of Arts in English = ENGL not M ENGL). Including the name of the degree limits the usability of the prefix; ENGL can be used for bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees, while M ENGL would in effect limit it to master’s degrees.
    Note: (a) New prefixes that do not follow the above guidelines will be modified by the University Curriculum Committee to meet these standards. (b) Currently existing prefixes that do not conform to the above guidelines will be grandfathered in.

Submission Requirements for Review by the UW Curriculum Committee (UWCC)

  1. Submit a prefix request memo to the UW Curriculum Office.
  2. The memo should include the following information:
    1. Name of the prefix (following the above stated guidelines), both the character code and what the prefix stands for.
    2. Name of the department that will manage the new prefix.
    3. Justification for the prefix, why it is needed, and how it fits into the Department.
  3. It must be signed by the same people who would approve a new course proposal.

Routing Course Proposals at the Same Time as Submitting a New Prefix Memo

  1. Send an email to with the subject line: “Request a new prefix be added to UW CM.”  Attach a copy of the completed prefix memo, which includes all required signatures.
  2. The Curriculum Office will create the prefix in UW CM to allow the department to create course proposals with the new prefix.

Note: The new prefix will not be added to SDB until the memo has been approved by the UWCC.