Introduction to Cobol Programming

I.     Course Prefix/Number: CIS 123

       Course Name: Introduction to Cobol Programming

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 2 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Recommended: CIS 101, and CSC 155 (C++) or CSC 156 (Java) or CSC 157 (Python) or comparable programming knowledge or consent of instructor or program coordinator.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces programming using the COBOL programming language to solve business-related problems. Content includes program development and design using arithmetic calculations, decision making, looping, reports, subroutines, data validation and file systems.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Use the COBOL programming language to design, code, execute, and debug business applications.
  2. Develop programming logic for using appropriate tools such as TOE (Task, Object and Event) charts, hierarchy charts, flowcharts, and pseudocode.
  3. Write code that will generate reports with totals, multilevel reports, single and multilevel tables using subscripting, and reports with multiple input files.
  4. Write structured code for subroutines and modular design.
  5. Use COBOL’s debugging tools to debug programs.
  6. Prepare internal and external documentation.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Basic composition of a COBOL Program
    1. Structure
    2. Organization of elements
    3. Purpose of each element
  2. Program Design
    1. Structured/modular program design
    2. An introduction to linear design
  3. Problem Classifications
    1. Creating reports with title lines and page breaks
    2. Data validation
    3. Output editing
    4. Control Breaks - single and multilevel
    5. Table handling - single and multilevel tables using subscripting
    6. Multi input file merging
  4. Documentation
    1. Systems flowchart
    2. Program flowchart
    3. Problem definition
    4. Processing information
    5. Input/output layout forms
  5. Debugging Techniques
    1. Using debugging statement within the program
    2. Using the COBOL debugging options (CBL statement)
  6. Introduction to the Operating System
    1. Relationship of COBOL STATEMENTS TO I/O device assignments
    2. Using the System libraries
    3. Program execution
  7. Data Representation and Storage descriptions
    1. Internal date representation
      1. Display format
      2. Computational-3 format
      3. Types of data
    2. Data description
      1. Levels of data - 01; 77; 88
      2. Value clause
    3. Storage layout
      1. Group items
      2. Elementary items
      3. Redefines
      4. Occurs
  8. Instructions for the Procedure Division
    1. Imperative
      1. Input/output instructions
      2. Arithmetic operations
      3. Data manipulation
      4. Procedure branching
      5. Debugging
    2. Conditional - 'IF' statement

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods of presentation include lecture and class discussion covering the syntactical rules of COBOL as well as the COBOL instruction set.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Designing, coding, testing, and debugging at least 6 programs, using on-line terminals.   Taking quizzes/exams as required by the individual instructor.  Creating at least 3 sets of written documentation.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Evaluation of programming assignments demonstrating typical business oriented problems, evaluation of documentation, and grades on quizzes/exams.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at