Definition of a Semester Credit Hour

Version 2 (Current Version)
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TitleDefinition of a Semester Credit Hour
CategoryAcademic Affairs
Sub-categoryAccreditation, Assessment and Other Academic Matters
AuthorityProvost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

June, 2011; Revised June 29, 2018


Associate Provost for Academic Program Planning and Development (328-5358)

Related Policies
Additional References

Southern Association for Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Principles of Accreditation

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6

ECU Faculty Manual, Part VI, Section VII

1. Purpose and Applicability

ECU adheres to the federal definition of credit hour as well as UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6. This regulation applies to all courses at all levels that award academic credit (i.e. any course that appears on an official transcript issued by the university) regardless of the mode of delivery or site of instruction, including but not limited to self-paced, online, blended/hybrid, lecture, seminar, studio, laboratory, independent studies, internship, practicum, service learning, and other experiential learning activities. Academic units are responsible for ensuring that credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in this regulation.

2. Federal Definition of the Credit Hour

For purposes of the application of this regulation at ECU and in accord with federal regulations, 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:

2.1 One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours 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

2.2 At least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item 2.1 above 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. (34 CFR 668.8, July 1, 2011)

3. UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6 (adopted 07/12/96; amended 07/01/07) requires that all UNC system campuses must ensure that every course offered for academic credit adheres to the standard of a minimum of 750 scheduled minutes of instructional time or the equivalent per credit hour. The time may include required examination periods, but may not include study days.

4. Procedure for Determining Credit Hours

Program and curriculum development are faculty responsibilities. Per ECU Faculty Manual Part VI, Section VII, the number of credit hours and the level of credits are determined when a new course or a revision to an existing course is proposed. Curriculum Committees of each unit within ECU shall comply with this regulation in their review and approval of all courses and for certifying that the expected student learning outcomes and activities for the course meets the credit hour definition.

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Curriculum Committee are responsible for ensuring that new and revised courses comply with the university’s credit hour standards as set forth in this regulation. Course proposals are examined for learning outcomes, instructional format and contact time as well as for assignments and evaluation mechanisms.”