This policy applies to all courses that award academic credit (i.e. any course that appears on an official transcript issued by the College) regardless of the mode of delivery. Academic units are responsible for ensuring that credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in this policy.
Federal Definition of Credit Hour
A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:
- One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
- At least an equivalent amount of work as required in the above statement of this definition for other activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
The regulations make an exception to this definition in the case of programs that are subject to one of the clock-hour/credit-hour conversion formulas as described below:
- A semester hour must include at least 37.5 clock hours of instruction
- Conversion: number of clock hours in the credit hour programs/37.5
U.S. Department of Education definition of a clock hour:
- A 50- to 60-minute class, lecture, or recitation in a 60-minute period;
- A 50-to 60-minute faculty-supervised laboratory, shop training, or internship in a 60 minute period; or
- Sixty minutes of preparation in a correspondence course.
United States Department of Education defines the relationship of a credit hour to a week of instructional time for purposes of an educational program and student eligibility for aid as follows:
- A week of instructional time is any seven-day period in which at least one day of regularly scheduled instruction or examination occurs, exclusive of vacation time, homework, or periods of counseling or orientation.
- In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through, for example, classroom attendance, examinations, practica, laboratory work, internships, supervised studio work, etc.
- In the case of distance education, academic engagement would include, but is not limited to, completing an academic assignment; taking an exam, participating in an interactive tutorial; participating in an instructor assigned study group; contributing to an academic online discussion; initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course, etc.
- Merely logging into the electronic classroom does not constitute academic engagement.
In response to a question regarding how an institution applies the definition of a credit hour to asynchronous online courses, not offered in a classroom setting, the USDE responded as follows: There is no “seat time” requirement implicit in the definition of a credit hour. An institution offering asynchronous online courses would need to determine the amount of student work expected in each online course in order to achieve the course objectives, and to assign a credit hour based on at least an equivalent amount of work as represented in the definition of a credit hour.
Arkansas Definition of Credit Hour
The amount of credit awarded for a course is based on the amount of time in class, the amount of outside preparation required, and the intensity of the educational experience.
- A formal lecture course with extensive assigned reading or other out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 750 minutes or 12.5 hours of classroom instruction;
- A laboratory class with moderate out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 1500 minutes or 25 hours of laboratory instruction; and
- Clinical, practicum, internship, shop instruction or other self-paced learning activities involving work-related experience with little or no out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 2250 minutes or 37.5 hours of work-related instruction.
UACCM Definition of a Credit Hour
The UACCM definition of a credit hour is in compliance with state, federal, and accreditation expectations. UACCM adheres to the Carnegie Unit for contact time (750 minutes for each credit hour awarded.)
- One credit is equivalent to 50 minutes (at a minimum) of class time (direct instruction) and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work per week.
- A three-credit course will typically meet 150 minutes per week for 15 weeks (direct faculty instruction), excluding designated College closings and exam periods. Summer sessions and accelerated (short) sessions/courses vary in length.
- An equivalent amount of work is required in courses and academic activities where direct instruction is not the primary mode of learning such as online and hybrid courses, laboratory work, independent study, internships, practicum, etc. Credits will be awarded on the basis of documented learning objectives, expected learning outcomes, and student workload expectations within a specified period of academically engaged time.
Course focuses on principles, concepts or ideas, lecture, discussion and demonstration. A semester credit hour is earned for fifteen, 50-minute sessions of direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of student preparation time outside of class per week throughout the semester. A typical three-credit hour course meets for three, 50-minute sessions or two, 75-minute sessions a week for fifteen weeks. Most lecture and seminar courses are awarded three credits.
Courses offered within the standard 15-week semester in which the credit hours offered are the same as standard semester courses. The content and substantive learning outcomes are the same. These courses must meet the definition of standard lecture contact time within the time frame the accelerated version is offered (750 minutes per credit).
Practical application courses are those courses where the major focus is “hands on” experience to support student learning (use of equipment, activities, tools, machines generally found in a laboratory). Science laboratory classes will meet 2-3 hours per week to equal one semester credit hour. Technical Skills laboratory classes will meet three hours per week to equal one semester credit hour.
Courses developed for independent learning and the development and application of job related or practical skills in a particular discipline are classified as Internship/Field Experience. These courses allow for observation, participation, and fieldwork, and are generally offered off campus. Internship time includes a combination of supervised time by approved experts outside the college, student assignments, and time supervised by a college instructor.
Minimum number of hours varies based on credits assigned to each internship course.
- 1 credit hour internship = 50 hours throughout the semester
Courses developed for independent learning and the development and application of job related or practical skills in a particular discipline are classified as Practicum/Student Teaching. These courses allow for observation, participation, client evaluation, fieldwork, and are offered off campus. Practicum time includes a combination of supervised time by approved experts outside the college, student assignments, and time supervised by a college instructor.
Supervised experiences where students are afforded an opportunity to apply skills and techniques acquired from assessment and intervention-oriented course material are classified as clinical placement. Number of hours varies by academic program based on clinical placement site hour requirements and student assignments. Clinical courses and fieldwork will meet the minimum required by the respective professional accrediting or regulatory agency.
Courses that permit a student to study a subject or topic in considerable depth beyond the scope of a regular course are titled independent study. Students must interact with the faculty member on a regular and substantive basis to assure progress within the course. College faculty provide guidance, criticism, and review of the student’s work. Students demonstrate competency through the completion of a final assessment either by submitting a final paper, project or portfolio, etc., as required by the faculty member.
A hybrid course is considered hybrid (or blended) when it is composed of both online learning and classroom learning and incorporates the best features of both environments to meet the learning objectives of the course.
These courses are where “instructors and students do not meet in the same space.” Regardless of mode of instruction, these courses are consistent in terms of quality, assessment, learning outcomes, requirements, etc., as courses offered face-to-face with the same department prefix, number, and course title. Faculty must demonstrate active academic engagement through interactive methods, including but not limited to, interactive tutorials, group discussions, virtual study/project groups, discussion boards, and chat rooms. Simply logging on, either by faculty or students, does not constitute active student learning. Credits hours assigned to a course delivered online must equal the number of credit hours for the same course delivered face-to-face.
Assignment of Credit Hours Procedure
Faculty and deans are responsible for ensuring that each course complies with the College’s credit hour standards as set forth in this policy. Assignment of credit hours for courses are determined within the program based on faculty expertise and course learning objectives. Courses are evaluated for adherence to the federal and state credit hour regulations during routine program evaluations. Documentation of compliance includes course syllabi and class schedules. Syllabi include information outlining the expected amount of work the course requires for the designated number of credit hours.
The deans at UACCM shall comply with this policy in their review and approval of all new courses and for certifying that the expected student learning outcomes for the course meets the credit hour definition. The determination of credit hours is made when a new course or a revision to an existing course is proposed. The submitted syllabus is examined for the instructional format and contact time as well as for assignments and evaluation mechanisms by the deans and the Vice Chancellor for Academics.
At UACCM, a standard semester consists of 15 weeks, plus a final examination week. The academic calendar is set by the Vice Chancellor Academics and approved by the Chancellor’s Council. The semester start and end dates are selected to ensure the minimum number of days for all courses offered.