Credit Hour Guidance
What is a "credit hour?"
A credit hour is a precise measurement reflecting the amount of work and time associated with a single academic credit. It includes the amount of instruction and supplementary assignments required for each credit a student earns when successfully completing a course. It can also be referred to as a “semester hour."
Which courses are required to meet the credit hour standard?
All courses that grant academic credit are required to comply with the credit hour standard. This is a federal, state, and accreditation requirement.
What, exactly, is required?
For each credit associated with a course, the course must include the appropriate amount of instructional time and supplementary assignment time associated with a single credit according to the federal definition of a credit hour. The total amount required per week for a course will be determined by the length of the course and the number of credits conferred to a student who successfully completes the course.
How do I calculate what is required?
One credit requires at least:
- 750 minutes of instructional time (15, 50-minute “hours” of required instruction)
- 1500 minutes of supplementary time (30, 50-minute “hours” of required supplementary assignments)
Minimum instructional time required per credit is calculated by multiplying the number of credits awarded by 750 minutes. For example:
- A 3-credit course would need to include at least 2,250 minutes of instructional time (750 minutes x 3 credits = 2,250 minutes) in a given semester.
- If a 3-credit course meets for 140 minutes per week, for 14-weeks (140 minutes x 14 weeks = 1,960 minutes), there would need to be an additional 290 minutes of instructional time completed outside of the classroom in order to meet the credit hour requirement (2,250 minutes - 1,960 minutes = 290 minutes).
- Please see the ‘What counts as instructional time?’ section below for a few examples of the kinds of instructional activities that instructors often use outside the classroom.
How does satisfying the instructional and supplementary time requirements for courses translate into weekly minutes for a 15, 14, or 7 week course?
Supplementary time is calculated in the same manner, with 1500 minutes required for each credit granted.
Any activity within a course that is BOTH required, and involves supervision, can count!
What counts as instructional time for in-person modalities?
REQUIRED & SUPERVISED:
- Lectures, seminars, recitations
- Experiential learning under the direct supervision of a faculty member: laboratory, field trip, clinicals
- Group discussion with a TA or instructor
- Proctored exams & quizzes
- Mandatory office hours with professor
- Synchronous online discussion with instructor participation
- Any synchronous activity with multiple students, engaged in various forms of group instruction under the supervision of an instructor
What counts as instructional time for online modalities?
REQUIRED & SUPERVISED:
- Asynchronous as well as synchronous classes, lectures, field or laboratory activity, or recitations with the opportunity for interaction between students and instructors
- An asynchronous learning activity involving academic engagement in which the student interacts with technology that can monitor and document the amount of time that the student participates in the activity
- Taking an exam online
- Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction
- Interacting with an instructor about academic matters
- Pre-recorded lecture that covers a course topic where task completion is tracked and confirmed
- TA or instructor mediated discussion board where discussion of an issue requires triple-layer response (ie. original post, responses to three classmates posts, responses to responses)
- Class discussion: asynchronous discussion area that allows the instructor to expand upon the lecture, answers questions, and also facilitates post-lecture Q&A and general student interaction.
- Small group work: stipulating that small groups meet in a web-conferencing and/or asynchronous discussion areas to work on an iterative deliverable for a group project; for example, discussing and producing an outline of their final report. TA or instructor feedback is required.
- Experiential learning: supervised online labs, simulations or activities within the community; for example, a series of required online modules
How do I show I am meeting the instructional time requirement in the course I am teaching?
Your syllabus should demonstrate that the total instructional time associated with the credits for the course meet the federal definition. This is easy to achieve when the required meeting times for the course (lectures, labs/recitations) add up to the federal definition. When the total required meeting time falls short, you must specify the additional supervised activities that count toward instructional time that students are required to complete in the course. You should be specific about what they are, when they take place, and the time associated with each required activity.
What counts as supplemental time for in-person and online modalities?
It is simple, all required work a student must conduct to successfully complete a course that is NOT supervised counts as supplementary time. For example: reading assignments, writing, exam preparation, research, homework assignments, study time, unsupervised lab work, unsupervised group work, etc.
Can a course EXCEED the instructional and supplemental time associated with the credits granted for the course?
No. The credit granted for a course should reflect the work required by the student (supervised and unsupervised) according to the federal definition of a credit hour. If course requirements exceed the minutes associated with the credits for the course according to the federal definition, the instructor should either modify the requirements to match the definition, OR increase the credits associated with the course in line with the federal definition.
Non-Traditional Courses (i.e., internship, field experience, studio, performance based, independent study, etc.)
Non-traditional courses may articulate unique means of meeting the credit hour requirements for the course relative to standard lecture courses, yet all work requirements in the course must be established and documented. The total required time and work in the course must match the total amount of time required for the course based on the credits granted.
Courses with Variable Credits
In the rare cases where a variable credit course is offered, the instructor must provide separate syllabi that reflect the appropriate requirements associated with each version of the course. Instructional and supplementary time must match the credits granted. It is NEVER acceptable to have a single set of requirements for a course that grants variable credits to students who complete the same requirements.