Credit Hour

Definition:This policy defines the amount of instruction and student work expected for each credit hour (or unit of credit).
Authority:CSU Coded Memorandum AA:2011-14 (CSU Definition of Credit Hour) issued October 4, 2011.
Scope:All courses for which credit is measured in semester units.
Responsible Division:Academic Affairs
Approval Date:06/27/2012
Implementation Date:06/27/2012
Originally Implemented:06/27/2012
Signature Page/PDF:View Signatures for Credit Hour Policy


Procedure

I. CREDIT HOUR POLICY

CSUSM measures student learning in accordance with the WASC Policy on Credit Hour, which relies on the federal regulations on the definition and assignment of credit hours:

Under federal regulations, all candidate and accredited institutions are responsible to comply with the definition of the credit hour as provided in section 600.2, which defines the credit hour as:

Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), 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 –

  1. 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
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

For the purpose of applying this definition, a 50-minute class period is considered to be “one hour” and a semester with 70-75 instructional days is considered to be an “approximately fifteen-week semester.”

II. CREDIT HOUR PROCEDURES

A. For courses with face-to-face instruction

  1. In courses with a “lecture” mode of instruction (C1 through C6), sections are typically scheduled to meet weekly over the entire semester for the same number of “hours” as credits being earned by students; sections scheduled for shorter terms have the number of “hours” adjusted in proportion to the length of the term. In such sections, the course syllabus must include a statement to the effect that students are expected to spend a minimum of two hours outside of the classroom each week for each unit of credit engaged in learning. Further comments giving direction on the nature of this out-of-class work (e.g., readings, homework exercises, writing papers, preparing reports, service learning activities, etc.) are recommended, but not required.
    Sample statement (for a 3- unit course): “Students are expected to spend six hours each week working on this course beyond attending the lectures. Each week you should….”
  2. In courses with an activity or laboratory mode of instruction (C7 through C17), the activity or laboratory portion of the section is typically scheduled to meet for two or three “hours” each week of the semester (depending on the particular instructional mode, and prorated for terms of other length). In such sections, the course syllabus must include a statement to the effect that students are expected to spend a minimum of two hours outside of the classroom engaged in learning. Again, further comments giving direction on the nature of this out-of-class work (e.g., practice work, writing lab reports, readings, etc.) are recommended, but not required.

B. For courses offered entirely on-line

The syllabus must describe the activities that the student will be required to complete as part of the course and indicate the expected minimum time that students will need to devote to each of these. The total expected time should be a minimum of 45 hours per semester for each unit of credit.

C. For hybrid courses where some face-to-face instruction has been replaced with an on-line component.

The syllabus should communicate an expectation to students that they should plan on devoting a minimum of 45 hours per semester for each unit of credit through attending class, working online, and other out-of-class work.