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Differential Credit Policy

Policy Number: EP-17.01

Effective Date: Fall 2017

Policy Title:  Differential Credit Policy (view the full SCEP proposal)

Contact: Office of Academic Programs

Policy Statement: Courses at the 400-level that enroll both undergraduate and graduate/professional students, and courses at the 500-level and above, may offer a differential of one (1) additional credit hour between contact and credit hours for graduate/professional students. Departments, in consultation with their college, may propose courses that offer the credit differential to achieve additional learning objectives specific to their programs of study that involve an equivalent amount of work to that required for a credit hour, as defined in the Contact/Credit Hour Policy.

Requests for courses offering differential credit between contact and credit hours must explain the requirements and rationale for the additional credit hour.

The syllabus for each course with differential credit must state the requirements for the additional credit hour.

Reason for Policy: In April 1989 the Senate approved a policy proposed by the Senate Educational Policy Committee allowing differential credit for undergraduate and graduate students in 400- and 500-level courses. As stated in the minutes:

The UIC Senate Educational Policy Committee recommends that a credit differential of up to 1 (one) hour be allowed between contact and credit hours for 400 and 500 level courses. This is recommended with the understanding that individual units be trusted to have taken educational value under consideration.

Although the minutes indicate that graduate students were to earn the additional credit through extra effort to achieve additional learning objectives, the policy did not provide such specificity.  As a result, instructors have not been explicitly directed to assign additional and more complex material to graduate students in order for them to receive the additional hour.  A new educational policy, related to 400-level courses, was approved on March 17, 2016 to replace the original policy. This revised policy further updates the March 2016 policy to include courses at the 500-level and above.

In addition, the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits UIC, requires evidence that all courses carry credit appropriate for the contact hours and the workload expected of students.  The revised policy makes it clear that differential credit is based on differential requirements.

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.

Policy History: 

  • Original policy approved by the Senate in 1989
  • Updates EP-16.02, Revision of the Differential Credit Policy (approved by SCEP in March 2016).
  • 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.