Contact/Credit Hour Policy

Policy Number: EP-17.02

Effective Date: Fall 2017

Policy Title:  Contact/Credit Hour Policy (view the full SCEP proposal)

Contact: Office of Academic Program Development

Policy Statement: The UIC policy for deciding how many credit hours to assign to each course is based on the federal definition of a credit hour, on which this policy is based (U.S. Government Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Part 600.2, Definitions).

At UIC, 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 50-minute period of classroom or direct faculty instruction per week and a minimum of two 50-minute periods of out-of-class student work each week (for a total of 150 minutes per week) for 15 weeks or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.
  2.  Two 50-minute periods of laboratory/practice or similar activity per week and a minimum of two 50-minute periods of out-of-class student work each week (for a total of 200 minutes per week) for 15 weeks or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.
  3.  Three 50-minute periods of studio or similar activity per week for 15 weeks and a minimum of two 50-minute periods of out-of-class student work each week (for a total of 250 minutes per week) for 15 weeks or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.
  4.  At least an equivalent amount of work as described in #1 above for other academic activities as established by program faculty, which may incorporate online or other educational activities. Specifically, the number of hours that learners are expected to invest in order to achieve the course learning outcomes and which are verified by evidence of student achievement should be used to determine a credit hour value. (Note that when appropriate, credit hours associated with such courses should be equivalent to credit hours of the same courses delivered in a face-to-face format on campus.)

Following the 15 weeks of instruction, an additional period may be scheduled for final examinations.

Based on this definition, a typical 3-hour undergraduate lecture/discussion course at UIC would meet for three 50-minute periods (150 minutes) each week for 15 weeks and would require a total of six 50-minute periods (300 minutes) of out-of-class student work per week over the course of the semester, for a course total of 6,750 minutes. Following the 15 weeks of instruction, an additional period may be scheduled for final examinations.

If credit hours are not assigned the minimum instructional hours, or are not specifically associated with weekly meetings (seat time) on the Course Request Form (e.g., for courses which are taught totally online or Competency-Based Education), an explanation of how credit hours have been assigned must be included.

Exceptions to these definitions may only be made with Senate approval.

Courses with instructional hours which exceed the above minima may be subject to Senate review and approval.

Reason for Policy: To ensure that UIC is in compliance with the federal definition of a credit hour.

Minority Impact Statement: This policy does not have any disproportionate or unique impact on UIC’s minority students, staff, or faculty.

Who Should Read the Policy:  Instructors, graduate students, advisors, directors of graduate studies, and others involved in designing or teaching courses at the 400-level and above.

Procedures [URL]: Coming soon.

Policy History:

  • Original policy approved by the Senate in 1988.
  • Updated policy approved by the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) on October 5, 2016 .
  • Policy approved by the UIC Faculty Senate on October 26, 2016.