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Cross-Listed Courses


Cross-listed courses are offered jointly by two or more teaching units (such as departments or divisions), or teaching units in two or more different Faculties. Regardless of the offering Faculty or discipline identified by the course prefix of a cross-listed course, every offered section of a cross-listed course is substantially the same as every other and all are therefore recognized as instances of the “same” course.  

Revision of the categories, definitions, practices and procedures regarding courses classified as “cross-listed”, “degree credit equivalent” (replaced by “course substitution”) and “degree credit exclusion” (now redefined as “course credit exclusion”).  (January 2004; Effective 2006-07)

Authority:    Senate

Cross-listed courses have the following characteristics:

  • In a cross-listed course, a group of students, sitting in the same classroom, taught by the same instructor(s) can be identified by more than one course prefix (e.g., AS/PSYC 1010 6.0, or AK/PSYC 1010 6.0, or SC/PSYC 1010 6.0), depending on whether the student enrolled in the course is registered in a degree program offered by the Faculties of Arts, Atkinson or Pure & Applied Science.
  • Cross listing is both symmetrical and transitive. This means that if two courses are cross-listed with a third course, then the cross-listings of all possible pairings of these three courses must be explicit. Pairs of cross-listed courses remain the same and fulfil the same functions regardless of which Faculty or unit is designated in the course prefix.
  • The course prefix can identify one of two or more Faculties (e.g., AS/AK/ PHIL 2070 6.0) or one of two or more disciplines (e.g., GL CDNS/SOCI/SOSC 3640 3.0).
  • Academic course credit value is constant. 
  • Course numbers are constant whenever possible. Exceptions are necessary given the limitations posed by academic unit course numbering systems. 
  • Course year level is constant. In a very limited number of cases, variance in year level occurs when introductory major courses are offered at the 1000-level in one Faculty and at the 2000-level in another Faculty. In exceptional circumstances, a variance in 3000 and 4000-level course level may occur as a result of differences in the structuring of degree program requirements; however, such anomalies are to be temporary, allowing only sufficient time to adjust course numbering. Courses at a 1000 or 2000-year level cannot be cross-listed to courses at a 3000 or 4000-year level.
  • All offered sections of a cross-listed course are accepted as the same course, regardless of the mode of delivery. For example, a cross-listed course could be offered as a traditional lecture course in one Faculty and as an on-line course in another Faculty.  
  • Integrated courses (graduate courses integrated (taught with) 4000-level undergraduate courses) are not cross-listed courses. The procedures and practices, which apply to cross-listed courses, do not apply to integrated courses. For further information, please refer to Appendix J of the Senate Curriculum Handbook for the Senate Policy on Integrated Courses.
  • Cross-listings are arranged and approved by agreement of the units or Faculties concerned.
  • Changes to a cross-listed course cannot be made unilaterally. Consultation and approval of the change is by agreement of the concerned units or Faculties.
  • Course approval forms for new and revised courses contain signature lines for both concerned units for cross-listed courses, confirming completion of the consultation and approval process.
  • Frequently, Faculties simultaneously offer different sections of a cross-listed course. For instance Atkinson and Arts offer different sections of the same Psychology courses or Mathematics courses. Periodic reviews, ideally once every three or four years, should be conducted by the concerned units to ascertain whether course structure and content remain sufficiently similar to warrant continuing the cross listing.
  • Cross-listed courses can be used to satisfy residency requirements for a student’s degree program. That is to say, an Arts Philosophy major, can take a cross-listed Philosophy course offered by Atkinson in the evening, and count that course towards fulfilment of the residency requirement that half (50%) of the required Philosophy courses for their degree, must be completed in the Faculty of Arts.
  • Cross-listed courses may not be ‘double-counted’ in order to fulfil degree requirements; e.g., if GL/PHIL 3660 6.0 is cross-listed with GL/POLS 3660 6.0, it may be counted as a Philosophy course or a Political Science course, but not as both. 1
  •  Cross-listed courses satisfy the strongest possible type of equivalence. As such, course A in major X that is cross-listed with course B in major Y cannot be used to satisfy the “outside the major Y degree requirement”,2 for A is substantially the same course as B.



“Course Exclusion” is a formal status accorded to pairs of courses that are recognized as having sufficient overlap in content to warrant specifically excluding students from obtaining credit for both. Course exclusion status requires the same curricular approval process required for establishing cross-listings. Course exclusions will be recognized by all Faculties and programs. 

One example of course exclusion is AK/ADMS 4540 3.0, which is sufficiently similar in content to AS/ECON 4400 3.0 to necessitate excluding students from taking both courses for credit.

CCAS wishes to stress that when two courses are declared “course credit exclusions”, it does not mean that the courses are sufficiently similar to be regarded as equivalent. Course credit exclusions simply recognize that there is a sufficient degree of overlap in two courses to preclude the possibility of taking both courses for degree credit. It does not imply that the courses are sufficiently similar to be regarded as equivalent.

Course exclusions have the following characteristics:

  • Course exclusions are symmetrical but not necessarily transitive.
    • Symmetrical – this is an explicit curricular agreement reached by all concerned parties (e.g., Course A is an exclusion of Course B and Course B is an exclusion of Course A.). 
    • Not Transitive – e.g., A and B are course exclusions. B and C are course exclusions. However, A and C are not necessarily course exclusions. This is because the area of overlap between A and B could be different than the area of overlap between B and C. A concrete example of the non-transitive nature of course exclusions (formerly referred to as Degree Credit Exclusions – ‘DCEs’) would be AS/MATH 1550 6.0, Mathematics with Management Applications, which has the following DCEs: AS/SC/MATH 1000 3.0, AS/SC/AK/MATH 1300 3.0, AS/SC/MATH 1505 6.0, AS/MATH 1530 3.0, AS/MATH 1540 3.0, AS/ECON 1530 3.0, AS/ECON 1540 3.0.   Focusing on the last four courses, AS/MATH 1530 3.0 and AS/ECON 1530 3.0 are DCEs, and AS/MATH 1540 3.0 and AS/ECON 1540 3.0 are DCEs, but the “1530s” are not DCEs with the “1540s”. The “pairing” of 1530 and 1540 is more or less ‘part one’ and ‘part two’ of the full-year 1550.
  • A course exclusion cannot be automatically used as an acceptable substitute to fulfil degree or program requirements. In other words, course exclusion cannot be treated as if it were course equivalence or course substitution. This does not preclude the possibility that a course exclusion could also be classed as a course substitute for a specific degree program; however, for a course exclusion to be recognized as a course substitute, it must be formally noted as a course substitute for a course requirement in a degree program. 
  • There are occurrences of “one-way” exclusions -- e.g., cases such as “cannot do B if completed A” whereas the opposite “cannot do A if completed B” is not stipulated. These one-way exclusions are normally program specific and therefore are to be handled as a degree program note, not as a course exclusion. An example of this could be COSC 1530 3.0 and COSC 1020 3.0. A student can do both in that sequence, but cannot do COSC 1530 3.0 after having completed COSC 1020 3.0. 
  • A course exclusion taken outside a student’s home Faculty, does not fulfil home Faculty requirements. If, for example an Arts student in a BA program in Economics takes AK/ADMS 4540 3.0, they may not take the “excluded” course in Arts, which is AS/ECON 4400 3.0, and AK/ADMS 4540 3.0 will not count for major credit in the Arts BA program in Economics.
  • Course exclusions are arranged and approved by the agreement of the units or Faculties concerned.
  • Changes to a course exclusion cannot be made unilaterally. Consultation and approval of the change are by agreement of the concerned units or Faculties.
  • New course approval forms and revised course approval forms are to contain signature lines for all concerned units for Course Exclusions. 
  • In the event that a student completes a course that then excludes taking a required course for a degree (either a formal ‘Course Credit Exclusion’ or a ‘one-way exclusion’), and then wishes to complete that degree program, the student will be allowed to take the required course. In such cases, the required course (the second course taken) would be noted as NCR on the student’s transcript (the grade would not be included in the student’s grade point average and the academic course credits would not be included in the total credits taken towards satisfying the degree requirements). The student would, however, be recognized as having met the degree requirement of completing that particular course (with the required minimum grade, if applicable).

“Course substitute” is a descriptive term applied when a course is recognized as sufficiently similar to a required course in a degree or certification program to warrant its acceptance as a “substitute” for the purpose of meeting the program’s requirements. 

Course Substitutes have the following characteristics:

  • As with all program requirements, it is the responsibility of the unit offering the program to determine whether there is an acceptable substitute course or courses, which could satisfy a specific program course requirement. 
  • There is an inherent difference between cross-listed courses and course exclusions on the one hand and course substitutes on the other. Both cross-listings and course exclusions are determined by reference to their specific course content. In other words, these categories pertain to the “course level”. Course substitutes have relevance only in relation to the particular program where one course is regarded as an acceptable substitute for another. In other words, course substitutes are determined on a “program level”. 
  • There is no set formula for determining the degree of similarity necessary for one course to be recognized as an acceptable substitute for another in a given degree program; rather, this is a matter that can only be determined by the program. 
  • Recognizing a course as an acceptable substitute for another in order to meet a program requirement does not imply that the overlap relation between these two courses is either symmetrical or transitive. Consequently, it is not necessary for a program to consult or secure an agreement with the unit offering a course that they wish to recognize as an acceptable substitute for a course requirement in their program.
  • A program can recognize a course as both a course exclusion and a course substitute by explicitly listing the course exclusion and course substitute (both on COS and in the degree program requirements). 
  • The existence of published course substitutes does not preclude the possibility of program directors continuing to recognize individual or “one-off” course substitutes for individual students. Just as now, when an individual course substitute is determined, it would be the responsibility of the program director to notify the appropriate departmental or Faculty office and the Office of the Registrar.  


  •  All recognized 'course substitutes' for a program are published, making this information readily accessible to students, faculty and staff.
  • ‘Substitute’ courses are to be explicitly included in the calendar description of the program requirements and added as a note to the course listing on the Course Offering System (COS) of the Student Information System (SIS), which is used to derive the course descriptions that appear in the York Undergraduate Calendar. (Given the complexity of some course substitute arrangements, in such cases, the COS note will simply state “See your degree program requirements for any approved course substitute”.)

The term “degree credit equivalent” will no longer be used. In the past, degree credit exclusions were frequently treated as if they were degree credit equivalents (or ‘substitutes’) and the acronym ‘DCE’ came to be interpreted ambiguously. In some cases this “equivalency” was recognized by a program but as often as not, the equivalency was never approved or sanctioned by the program.   CCAS concluded that the term “degree credit equivalent” expressed an often program-dependent similarity between two courses that was insufficiently strong to warrant cross listing. More often than not this `equivalence’ was recognized by only one of the offering programs. The new term, `substitute’ at once recognizes degree program dependence and asymmetry in the relation: the acceptance of an alternative course in place of a required course within a specific degree or certificate program. 

1The prohibition against “double counting” cross-listed courses in order to satisfy the degree requirements of two subjects applies to counting the course as “subject credits” (degree major or minor credits) towards satisfaction of the minimum number of major or minor credits required by each degree program.   For example a student enrolled in an Honours Double Major BA program in History and Geography must complete at least 42 credits in History and 42 credits in Geography. If the student takes a course that is cross-listed between History and Geography (e.g. AS/HIST 3890 3.0 - AS/GEOG 3080 3.0 - Reading Landscapes Through Time) the course may be used to satisfy the major course credit requirement of either History or Geography but not both). On the other hand, many of Humanities and Social Science courses that satisfy General Education/Foundations requirements are cross-listed to courses required by a student’s major program. In this case, the one course could be used (1) to satisfy a student’s degree program General Education/Foundations requirement, (2) satisfy a listed course requirement of the major program, and (3) count towards satisfaction of the total number of major credits required for the degree program (in one major subject), but with the course credit weight counted only once towards the degree course credit requirement.

2 Some programs have a rule that requires so many credits be taken outside the major.

3The term “course credit exclusion” is used rather than “degree credit exclusion” (“DCE”), as the latter term could be seen as implying that the exclusion is degree program dependent. The term “course credit exclusion” puts the emphasis where it belongs, at the course level and avoids the previous confusion of “Degree Credit Exclusions” with “Degree Credit Equivalents”.