101 (topic)

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101 (pronounced "one-oh-one") is a topic for beginners in any area. It has all the basic principles and concepts that are expected in a particular field.

In American university course numbering systems, the number 101 is often used for an introductory course at a beginner's level in a department's subject area. This common numbering system was designed to make transfer between colleges easier. In theory, any numbered course in one academic institution should bring a student to the same standard as a similarly numbered course at other institutions.[1]

According to this three number arrangement, the first digit corresponds to the college year (1 for freshman, 2 for sophomore, 3 for junior, 4 for senior in undergraduate courses, and 5 and above for graduate courses). The second digit corresponded to a particular subject or to a department (like English, Science, etc.), and the third digit referred to a sequence number within a series of courses on the same subject.[2][3] Sometimes there are prerequisites, so for instance an English 201 course might not be taken before passing English 101 and 102.


The term was first introduced by the University of Buffalo in 1929. It was used in the university's course catalog, the first known usage of the term by Oxford English Dictionary.[2]

Based on this usage, the term "101" has been extended to mean an introductory level of learning or a collection of introductory materials to a topic.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Forest, J.J.F. (2002) Higher education in the United States: an encyclopedia p.73. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-248-7. Retrieved October 2011
  2. ^ a b Engber, Daniel (September 6, 2006). "Why are introductory classes called "101"?". Slate Magazine.
  3. ^ "Why Are Introductory Classes Called '101'?"Mental Floss

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