Academic Affairs: Credit Hour Definition

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This article codifies practices surrounding the definition of the credit hour at UW-Eau Claire.

UW-Eau Claire works from the federal definition of the credit hour:

  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;

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  2. at least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward the award of credit hours. 34CFR 600.2 (11/1/2010)

UW-Eau Claire Definition of a Credit Hour:

As defined in the UW-Eau Claire Catalog, “The unit of credit is the semester hour. It is defined as one class hour per week (or its equivalent) for one semester. Thus, a lecture-discussion course which meets three hours per week ordinarily carries three semester credits. Laboratory and studio classes usually require two hours in class as the equivalent of one semester credit” (

Application of the Definition:

  1. One class hour is defined as a 50-minute period
  2. Spring or fall semester courses taught on a schedule other than MWF and TTh, or courses taught during summer and winter terms each must be scheduled to provide an equivalent number of instructional minutes (approximately 740 per credit).
  3. For courses taught outside of the standard face-to-face format such as hybrid or fully online classes, independent studies and directed studies, internships, and academic apprenticeships, a credit hour will be defined as at least 45 hours of learning activities, which may include lectures or class meetings, in-person or online, laboratories, examinations, presentations, tutorials, preparation, reading, studying, hands-on experiences, and other learning activities.
  4. Credit hours for a course are established at the time of course approval and reviewed by the curriculum committee and associate dean of the relevant college. The number of approved credit hours will be maintained over all offerings of a course (with the exception of courses approved for variable credit, such as academic apprenticeships, internships, and independent and direct studies). Course proposals include course outcomes and a course outline that demonstrates learning activities appropriate to the credits proposed, and requiring sufficient work outside of class as established by the federal definition.
  5. Academic departments and programs are responsible for the ensuring that courses are scheduled and taught in a manner consistent with the credit hour definition.

August 23, 2019