To Home Page To Home Page
General Description
Policy Provisions
Performance Evaluation
Subject Experts
Academic Credit Hours Guidelines

Document Number: ACAD--171 Revision #: 1.0
Document Owner: Executive VP Date Last Updated: 09/27/2013
Primary Author: Associate VP of Academic Affairs Status: Approved
Date Originally Created: 08/01/2012

General Description

Information about academic credit hours relative to Academic Affairs policy.


Delineation of policy.


All faculty, staff, students, and administrators

Responsibility: Academic Affairs

Back to Top

Relevant Knowledge: In order to comply with this policy you should know:
Current University policy
Federal statutes

Terms and Definitions: Additional training

Corrective Action

Back to Top

Policy Provisions


An Academic credit hour is the unit by which an institution sets the basis for measuring the amount of engaged learning time expected of a typical student enrolled not only in traditional classroom settings but also laboratories, studios, internships and other experiential learning, and distance and correspondence education. The federal government relies on academic credits as a measure of student academic engagement and a basis for awarding financial aid. Further, the assignment of academic credit for courses allows prospective students to make meaningful comparisons between institutions and academic programs. Additionally, federal and state reporting requirements can be analyzed, achieved, and communicated.



Definition of the Academic Credit Hour

To maintain alignment with federal regulations and regional accrediting bodies, Cumberland University uses the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges definition of an academic credit hour. An academic credit hour is defined as the amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement. Institutionally this is equivalent to reasonable approximations of:


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 not less than two hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, or

2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required and 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 academic credit hours (1).


The credit hour definition above is a minimum standard that does not restrict particular courses at Cumberland University from setting a higher standard that requires more student work per academic credit hour. Best practices in higher education are followed to determine requirements for academic credit hours assigned to particular courses and/or activities.


(1) Credit Hours Policy Statement, January 2012:


Credit Guidelines


Lecture Class Instruction

Normally, 750 semester-minutes, excluding final exams is associated with one academic credit hour for a semester. It is also widely accepted as best practice among higher education institutions to expect two hours per week (for 15 week semester) or 1800 minutes per semester of preparation or other outside work outside of the class.



Non-Lecture Class Instruction

· Laboratory

Normally, one academic credit hour is associated with a class meeting for 50 – 200 minutes per week for an entire 15 week semester (or the equivalent of 750 – 3,000 minutes per semester).

· Clinical

Normally, one academic credit hour is associated with a class meeting 100 – 300 minutes per week over a 15 week semester (or the equivalent of 1500 to 3000 minutes per semester). Note that there can be variation in the requirements per clinical credit hour based upon best practices in higher education for a particular clinical type.

· Studio

Normally, one academic credit hour is associated with a class meeting 1500 to 3000 minutes per semester (or 100 – 300 minutes per week in a 15 week semester).

· Practica and Internships

Normally, one academic credit requires a minimum of 50 hours per 15 week semester or its equivalency.

· Independent Study

Academic credit hours associated with this type of instruction will be assigned credit depending upon the amount of activity associated with meeting the learning outcomes of the course, faculty supervision, and student outside work activity. Best practices in higher education will be followed in assigning appropriate academic credit.

· Distance Learning

Academic credit hours associated with this delivery format of a course will be equivalent to academic credit hours assigned when a course is conveyed in any other delivery format at Cumberland University.



Procedures for Exceptions

Situations and new developments in best practices in higher education may occur that prompt variance in academic credit assigned for a particular course from that stated above. If this situation should occur, a curriculum change proposal should be initiated and submitted by the academic school in which the variance is recommended. Documentation of adherence to best academic practices in higher education necessitating the adjustment in academic credit assigned will be documented in the curriculum change proposal.


Back to Top

Performance Evaluation
Performance Metrics: Compliance with federal mandate
Compliance with standard policy and procedure

Consequences: Further training

Back to Top

Subject Experts
The following may be consulted for additional information.
Associate VP of Academic Affairs

VP of Academic Affairs

Back to Top

This page created 10/30/2014 using Zavanta® version 6.0