Credit Hour

Except as specified in 34 CFR 668.8(k) or (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 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, clerkships, rotations, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

Classroom Hours

Class or supervised meeting times for lecture, exams, or classroom discussion.

Non-classroom Hours

Supervised or non-supervised student work out of class.

Total Work Hours

Combined classroom and non-classroom hours. Instructors may reasonably adjust the classroom and non-classroom work hours, but the total work hours must remain consistent.


Classroom Hours
Non-Classroom Hours
Expected Total Work Hours

Semester Credit Hours are Granted for Various Types of Instruction

Lecture, Discussion, Didactic Courses

A credit hour is assumed to be a 50-minute (not 60-minute) period. In courses such as those offered online in which “seat time” does not apply, a credit hour may be measured by an equivalent amount of work, as demonstrated by student achievement. Typically, a three-semester credit hour course meets three 50-minute sessions per week for fifteen weeks for a total of 45 sessions.

Laboratory and Recitation Courses

For a laboratory class, the hours per week are considered to be all in class with no outside assignments. Thus, one unit is three hours per week of laboratory time. Forty-five 50-minute sessions of such activity would normally earn one semester credit hour. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of fifteen periods of 100 minutes duration each will earn one semester credit hour.

Experiential Courses

When learning takes place in a work setting and is to be credited as a portion of an academic program design, as in an internship, clerkship, or rotation, one semester credit hour will be awarded for each 40 to 45 clock-hour week of supervised academic activity that provides the learning considered necessary for the program.

Independent Study

One credit for independent study (defined as study given initial guidance, criticism, review and final evaluation of student performance by a faculty member) will be awarded for the equivalent of forty-five 50-minute sessions of student academic activity.

Short (Intensive) Courses

Intensive courses are prorated so they contain the same number of hours as if the course were scheduled for a full semester. To maintain the integrity of the instructional program, care must be taken when scheduling these intensive courses so that there is adequate time for students to complete homework assignments or by arrangement laboratory assignments. Please see the chart above for semester hour and total work hour equivalents for intensive course.