Credit Hour Policy

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Policy Overview

The credit hour is the basic unit of measuring the work represented by academic engagement.

According to the federal definition (34 CFR 600.2), “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.”

One credit hour at ACU is equivalent to:

  • 50 minutes of direct instruction per week and
  • a minimum of 2 additional hours of work by the student for a period of 15 weeks, or
  • an equivalent amount of cumulative work over a different time period.

Faculty recommend the number of credit hours when proposing a new course. This ensures that the university definition is applied using professional judgment by those with the content knowledge and teaching experience to reasonably approximate an equivalent amount of work.

This definition applies regardless of course modality because faculty can evaluate an equivalent amount of work.

ACU has four instructional methods:

1. Online – A course that uses web-based tools and in which 86-100% of the instruction and interaction between the instructor and a student is done online.

2. Distance Learning – A synchronous course in which student(s) are not co-located with the instructor(s). Student(s) and instructor(s) who are not co-located primarily have mediated interaction during the instruction portion of the course. This course may be offered at the same time as a face-to-face section of the course. This course will have online elements.

3. Hybrid – A course that displaces between 15-85% of face-to-face class time with instruction and interaction using online tools, so that at least 15% of the course is delivered when the student(s) and instructor(s) are co-located.

4. Face-to-face – A course in which the student(s) and the instructor(s) are co-located 86-100% of the instruction and interaction time. Face-to-face courses may have online elements.

Courses with designated schedule types traditional lab, traditional lecture/lab, experiential learning, seminar, or studio may contain academic activities such as internships, field experience, practica, research, clinical placements, workshops, and laboratory or studio work. Consistent with the federal and institutional definitions, credit will be assigned for these experiences based on an equivalent amount of work. However, these courses may require more time than the minimum stated in the credit hour definition. Lab and studio courses typically require 2-4 hours of student engagement per credit hour awarded.

All credit-bearing activities require a syllabus, which must include the number of credit hours, meeting times, student learning outcomes, assignments to assess performance on the outcomes, and a course calendar.