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Credit Hour Policies

Credit Hour Definitions Policy

Duquesne University's academic year is divided into two semesters, Fall and Spring, of approximately 15 weeks each. Summer sessions, as well as some accelerated sessions offered throughout the year, are variable in length.

Credit Hour

The semester credit hour is the basic unit of academic credit granted by Duquesne University. It reflects the Carnegie unit which has served as the traditional unit of measure in higher education. One semester credit is equivalent to one hour (50 minutes) of faculty instruction time per week for 15 weeks (for a total of no less than 750 minutes or 12.5 hours per credit hour), and a minimum of two hours of student preparation time outside of the classroom each week per credit hour. An equivalent amount of work is required for lectures, laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. Departments may determine contact time over the minimum requirements as needed.

The measure of this instructional contact time may be adjusted to reflect different formats of study or lengths of academic sessions. These adjustments are reflective of the intended student outcomes and established equivalencies of the semester credit hour set by Duquesne University and reasonably reflect the requirements established by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in its "Credit Hour Policy" dated October 30, 2012 and the U.S. Department of Education definition of "credit hour."

Credit Hour Standards by Instructional Method

Lecture and Seminar - courses with multiple students that meet to engage students in various forms of group instruction. A typical 3 credit hour course will meet 2,250 minutes.

Lecture Credit Hours Contact TIme Required
Number of Semester Credit Hours Awarded Minimum Instructional Time per Week for 15 Weeks Total Minimum Instructional Time per Semester
1 credit hour 50 contact minutes 750 contact minutes
2 credit hours 100 contact minutes 1500 contact minutes
3 credit hours 150 contact minutes 2250 contact minutes
4 credit hours 200 contact minutes 3000 contact minutes

Lecture/lab - courses with multiple students consisting mainly of various forms of group instruction but with a separate component regularly devoted to lab/activity experiences. Through scheduling of classes and/or syllabi, academic departments must demonstrate that the proportion of lecture in the course meets the minimum contact time required as well as the minimum ratio of 2:1 of lab/activity experiences contact minutes to lecture contact minutes. For example, a 4 hour course that meets for 2 lecture credit hours and 2 lab/activity experiences credit hours would calculate the meeting time as follows:
2 lecture credit hours require 1500 contact minutes
2 lab/activity experiences credit hours require 3000 contact minutes
because the lab/activity experiences ratio must be 2:1 to the lecture time required.

Independent Studies, Readings, Research - courses offered as directed studies with the approval and supervision of a faculty member. Student(s) meet periodically as agreed upon during the duration of the course with the faculty member, who is responsible for providing periodic and final evaluation. Semester hour credit awarded for the course must be comparable in scope, content, academic rigor and student study time as courses offered in lecture or lab courses.

Lab/activity and Studio Credit Hours Contact TIme Required
Number of Semester Credit Hours Awarded Lecture Minimum Instructional Time per Week Lecture Minimum Instructional Time per Semester Lab/Activity, Studio Minimum Instructional Time per Week Lab/Activity, Studio Minimum Instructional Time per Semester
1 50 750 100 1500
2 100 1500 200 3000
3 150 2250 300 4500
4 200 3000 400 6000

Lab - courses where the major focus is on experiential activities to support student learning. Minimum contact time is based on 2 times the amount of contact time of a lecture (2:1 ratio). One semester credit hour is awarded for the equivalent of fifteen periods of lab activity consisting of a minimum of 100 minutes in duration.

Studio - courses taught as applied study on a private or semi-private basis with a minimum of 2:1 ratio (see chart).

Internships, Practicum/field experience, clinical, Externships, Law Clinic - courses developed for independent learning or experience involving self-directed and often off-site learning. These courses are taught on a minimum 2:1 ratio (see chart).

Accelerated Courses - courses offered in terms of length less than a traditional 15 week semester. These courses offer the same semester credit hours as traditional semester-length classes. Within the shortened time frame, accelerated courses must meet the minimum contact hour requirements of the Lecture format or of any of the other categories of study involving applied study at a 2:1 ratio.

Online - courses offered entirely online and without any required face-to-face class meetings. A week of instructional time is any given seven-day period in which at least one session of regularly scheduled instruction or examination occurs. Students are expected to be academically engaged through means which could include, but are not limited to, submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; attending a virtual study group assigned by the instructor; contributing to an academic online discussion; and engaging in contact with the faculty member and class peers related to the academic subject of the course. Departments must document through scheduling of classes or syllabi that they are meeting the minimum semester credit hour requirement for the credit awarded. (U.S. DOE, CH-A5, 2.22.2013)

Hybrid - courses offered in a blended format with 1 or more required face-to-face class sessions and with 1 or more required online sessions. Departments must document through scheduling of classes or syllabi that they are meeting the minimum semester credit hour requirement for the credit awarded.

Review Policy for Compliance with MSCHE Credit Hour Requirements

The Office of the University Registrar regularly audits scheduled courses offerings to ensure compliance with credit hour requirements through its processes for scheduling each semester. This review is conducted across all schools, disciplines, and course levels, and modes of instruction. The Office of the University Registrar maintains an historical record of its review of each semester.