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: Academic Affairs
: Provost
: 02/20/2019
: 02/20/2019
: 02/20/2020

Credit Hour Policy

Comment on Policy


All faculty and staff teaching or responsible for academic courses earning credit hours


The purpose of this policy is to be consistent with best practices in higher education and to comply with federal and accreditation standards regarding the definition of a credit hour.


Credit hour - The Department of Education defines a credit hour as: "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

  1. Not less than 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. At least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item 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."

Consistent with best practice, Thomas More University equates one hour of credit to 50 minutes of direct instruction or out of class time.

Direct instruction

  1. face-to-face contact time in a traditional setting,
  2. in online learning environments, the time a typical student spends interacting with course content.  See "normal time to complete" definition. This excludes student work typically completed outside of class such as homework, studying, reading, and writing papers.
  3. for experiential learning, the time spent under the direct supervision of a faculty member or supervisor

Out of class time - activities related to the course that do not qualify as direct instruction.

Normal time to complete - estimated number of minutes that a typical student would take to complete the activity in order to achieve the expected learning outcomes, as determined by the faculty member of the course.


Thomas More University expects all courses at all levels (graduate and undergraduate) that award academic credit, regardless of the mode of delivery, to meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. 50 minutes per credit hour per week for fifteen weeks or the equivalent of direct instruction (to calculate, use the following formula: 50 minutes x number of credit hours earned for the course x 15 / number of weeks)
  2. 150 minutes per credit hour per week for fifteen weeks or the equivalent of total time, including direct instruction and out of class time (to calculate, use the following formula: 150 minutes x number of credit hours earned for the course x 15 / number of weeks)

Academic departments are responsible for ensuring credit hours are awarded appropriately.


SACSCOC Credit Hours Policy Statement

SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Foundations of Quality Enhancement, standard 10.7

34 C.F.R. § 600, 602, 603, et al. Program Integrity Issues; Final Rule


A plan has been developed to assist faculty in calculating class time and to ensure University compliance.

  1. The Office of Online Engagement will develop resources for faculty teaching in all modalities.
  2. When submitting course schedules to the Registrar's Office, department chairs will indicate the instructional method of the course.  The Registrar's Office will notify faculty of any courses indicated as onground, lecture courses that do not meet the minimum for direct instruction.  
  3. The course syllabus should indicate expected time to complete per week.
  4. Each Dean will annually conduct a random audit of courses in their College according to the Credit Hour Audit procedures maintained by the Department of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment.


Course Inventory Modification Form

Instructional Resources through the Office of Online Engagement

Credit Hour Audit Procedures



Supersedes Policy

Summarize Change

 February 20, 2019

Credit Hour Guide from November 17, 2015

Redefined institutional definitions; Update to University; add procedures




Maria C. Garriga, Acting Provost