Credit Hour Policy

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Southern Illinois University Carbondale follows the United States Department of Education’s definition of a credit hour (34 CFR 600.2). 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 reasonable 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 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 (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practice, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale defines the academic year as 30 weeks of instruction and uses a semester credit hour system. Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks of instruction, excluding designated university closings and final exam periods. The credit hour policy applies equally to courses of varied duration and modes of instruction.

Faculty Instruction
Credits Faculty Instruction Total Class Minutes (Hours per Semester)
1 50 minutes 750 minutes (12.50 hours)
2 100 minutes 1,500 minutes (25 hours)
3 150 minutes 2,250 minutes (37.50 hours)
4 200 minutes 3,000 minutes (50 hours)
5 250 minutes 3,750 minutes (62.50 hours)
6 300 minutes 4,500 minutes (75 hours)

Faculty Instruction and Student Preparation Time
Credits Faculty Instruction Student Preparation Total Faculty/Student Minutes per Semester
1 50 minutes 120 minutes 2,250 minutes
2 100 minutes 240 minutes 5,100 minutes
3 150 minutes 360 minutes 7,650 minutes
4 200 minutes 480 minutes 10,200 minutes
5 250 minutes 600 minutes 12,750 minutes
6 300 minutes 720 minutes 15,300 minutes

Applications of the Credit Hour Policy

Laboratory (including music and theater): Students engage in hands-on activities where learning is extended through practical applications. Typically meet 100 minutes or more per week for 1 credit hour as determined by the discipline.

Internships/Field Experiences/Clinical Placements/Practicums: Students practice skills and knowledge in a specified discipline independently with supervision by discipline experts. These courses allow for observation, participation, and fieldwork, and are generally offered off campus. Accrediting bodies or applicable state regulations may determine credit for clinical experiences.

Readings: Students engage in a directed set of readings selected with or by a faculty member. Students meet regularly with the faculty member, for the duration of the course. Students demonstrate competency of learning objectives in a format agreed upon by the faculty member. One credit hour represents 3-4 hours per week of independent reading, and may include time set aside to meet with the faculty member.

Independent Study/Research: Students study a subject or topic not offered in the current curriculum. Students meet periodically, as agreed upon with the faculty member, for the duration of the course. University faculty provide guidance, criticism, and review of the student’s work. Students demonstrate competency by submitting a final paper, project, or portfolio as required by the faculty. Student work hours should be commensurate with a face-to-face course.

Thesis/Dissertation: Students develop inquiry consistent with the disciplines’ expectations of a thesis or dissertation.

Distance Education, Internet and Hybrid (Blended) Courses: Credit hour policy is consistent with the standards of courses offered through face-to-face instruction, although some or all of content and faculty-student interaction occurs through one or more forms of distance education. All courses should be consistent with face-to-face courses in terms of the number of credit hours, quality, assessment, learning outcomes, and requirements. If a program offers a course that is solely on-line, the program determines the amount of student work expected and assigns a credit hour based on an equivalent amount of work as represented in the definition of a credit hour.

Adopted from: