Bates College – Credit Hour Equivalencies
Federal Definition of a Credit Hour and Accreditation Standards
Federal regulations define a credit hour as an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutional established equivalence that reasonably approximates not less than:
(1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
(2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition 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 credit hours.
Other combinations of in-class and out-of-class student work time are acceptable as long as the total number of student academic work hours in a given class is 180 over the course of the semester.
What does this mean for Bates given that we award 1.0 credit per course which is equivalent to
4.0 semester hours?
This flexibility means faculty can adjust their courses to their pedagogical needs. The chart below shows how credit is determined under the federal formula, under our standard 15 week schedule, and how it can be determined under a 2-2 Modular schedule.
Faculty can elect to meet 6, 7, or 8 hours per week as long as the corresponding expectation regarding out of class work brings the student to a total of 180 work hours in the module.
What constitutes Faculty Instruction?
Faculty instruction includes activities such as lecture, guiding discussion, experiential learning activities, demonstrations, administering assessments, etc. As long as the work is coordinated or supervised by the faculty member and engages all students, it counts as direct faculty instruction. So, a meeting with an individual student after class does not count but observing and guiding while students complete group work in class would count.
What about asynchronous, online courses?
Contact time is not specifically defined in the federal regulations. Each asynchronous course must be structured to contain at least an equivalent amount of work as represented in the definition of credit hour.
What does this mean for Short Term courses?
Beginning in Short Term 2021, all courses will carry .5 credits which is equivalent to 2 semester hours under the federal definition. Short Terms courses need a total of 26 hours per week of combined direct faculty instruction and outside class student work.
Faculty can elect to meet 8, 9, or 10 hours per week as long as the corresponding expectation regarding out of class work brings the student to a total of 90 work hours in the module.