Definition of a Credit Hour
Approved by the Faculty Organization, April 15, 20111
A unit of undergraduate academic credit is awarded to a student upon the successful completion of an approved instructional course, or by the demonstration of competency, demonstration of proficiency, or fulfillment of learning outcomes that is the equivalent to that provided by an approved instructional course.
Historically, a unit of academic credit is the measure of the total time commitment an average student is expected to devote to learning per week of study. Generally, one unit of credit represents a total of three hours per week of in-class and out-of-class work (Carnegie Unit of Credit). In this context, an hour is defined as 50 minutes. IU Northwest guidelines for the academic calendar require a 3-credit lecture class to meet for a minimum of 2,000 minutes excluding the final examination period. Emerging delivery methodologies may necessitate determining a unit of undergraduate credit with non-time based methods. These courses shall use demonstration of competency, demonstration of proficiency, or fulfillment of learning outcomes to insure these courses are equivalent to traditionally delivered courses.
Regardless of the method of determining a unit of undergraduate academic credit, the quality of student learning must be the primary concern of all IU Northwest faculties in the context of awarding a unit of undergraduate academic credit. Quality of learning requires continuous evaluation and assessment of student learning outcomes to justify awarding a unit of undergraduate academic credit. Quality of learning also requires regular student attendance/participation to justify awarding a unit of undergraduate academic credit.
The following standards for a unit of academic credit may only be modified by an academic unit when necessary to fulfill requirements of an accreditation agency. If modification of the following standards is necessary, these standards should be treated as a minimum requirement for a unit of academic credit:
- For traditional delivery methodologies (major semester), one unit of undergraduate academic credit equals:
1 hour of lecture, seminar, or recitation and two hours of study per week, or
2 hours of laboratory, studio, or similar activities and one hour of study per week, or
3 hours of laboratory, studio, or similar activities per week, or
3 hours of supervised independent study per week or
45 - 75 total hours of supervised clinical or fieldwork experiences (additional preparation time may be required).
For traditional delivery methodologies other than major semesters, total hours shall equal the above guidelines.
- For non-traditional, synchronous delivery methodologies, one unit of undergraduate academic credit equals one hour of lecture or student/faculty interaction and two hours of study. Synchronous delivery methodologies include but are not limited to live television courses, tape delayed television courses, and web-based virtual lecture courses
- For non-traditional, asynchronous delivery methodologies, one unit of undergraduate academic credit shall be determined by:
i. demonstration of competency, demonstration of proficiency, or fulfillment of learning outcomes as judged by the appropriate faculty to be equivalent to a traditionally defined unit of undergraduate credit, or
ii. what is judged by the appropriate faculty to be equivalent to a time commitment of three hours per week for an average student. Asynchronous delivery methodologies include but are not limited to correspondence instruction, computer-based instruction, and courses combining differing delivery methodologies.
- For internships, student teaching, independent study, and like educational activities which are not under the direct supervision by an IU Northwest faculty member, one unit of undergraduate academic credit is commensurate with the hours involved and quality of the learning experience and is determined by the credit-awarding unit. Academic credit is awarded when the student fulfills the objectives and/or obtains the required competencies as set by the credit-awarding unit.
- For supervised undergraduate research and similar activities, the amount of effort required for one unit of undergraduate academic credit is determined by the supervising faculty and/or advisory committee.
- Special credit may be awarded to degree-seeking IU Northwest students who possess, by previous education or experience, a background in a discipline represented by an IU Northwest program. The categories under which students are awarded credit are (1) credit by credentials, (2) credit by experience, and (3) credit by examination. Each school and many disciplines have different policies that define how these mechanisms apply to students seeking credit.
1Modified for IU Northwest from the definition approved by the IUPUI Academic Affairs Committee April 6, 2001)