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Open Educational Resources (OER)

What is ZTC?

"Zero Textbook Cost" or ZTC is the designation used in CUNYFirst to indicate that a course does not require students enrolled in the class to purchase a textbook or required readings. Instead, students may be assigned OER materials, freely available materials (which may or may not be open, but are freely accessible for students, such as a New York Times article), library materials, or a combination of these.


Here are CUNY's detailed guidelines on ZTC designations:

  • ZTC/OER course sections are those that do not require students to purchase a textbook.
  • ZTC/OER designated course sections may include recommended books, library materials, or materials provided at no cost by the instructor. Students may be asked to print out materials, if the materials are provided free of charge.
  • ZTC/OER designated courses need only be free of cost for textbooks. ZTC designated courses may include costs for supplies.
  • Any course section meeting this criterion and listed in the CUNYfirst schedule of classes is eligible. This includes:
    • Fully Online
    • Hybrid
    • In Person
    • Online
    • Partially Online
    • Web-Enhanced
  • Course sections (classes) are assigned the ZTC/OER attribute independently. Courses may have ZTC/OER designated sections as well as non-ZTC-designated sections, depending on the materials chosen by each section’s instructor.
  • Courses that consist of linked sections (e.g., lecture + labs) may have the ZTC/OER designation applied to whichever sections do not require purchase of a book. A course may have a ZTC/OER designated lab section, but require a textbook for the lecture section, for example.
  • To designate a course section as ZTC/OER, follow the standard departmental procedures for assigning a course attribute. In most cases, that’s notifying an appointed coordinator or your chairperson, who will then inform the registrar.
  • In addition, if your college uses Akademos, please be sure to check the “No textbook required” box if you are using ZTC/OER materials. Faculty should also check the ZTC indicator option.
  • Please ensure that designations are in place in time for students to consider course costs: designate your course as ZTC/OER within two weeks of the call for book orders.
  • If you miss this deadline, please retroactively code your courses so that they are counted in CUNY OAA’s end-of-year OER reporting to New York State.

Please contact Professor Christina Boyle, Emerging Technologies Librarian and OER Coordinator, with any questions at