Credit Hour Definition

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Credit Hour Definition

Northwestern adheres to the policy of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education when defining the credit hour.

The semester-credit-hour is the standard and traditional unit of credit to be used by institutions in evaluating student’s educational attainment and progress. Semester-hour of credit is calculated as follows:

  • One semester-hour of credit is normally awarded for completions of a course meeting 800 instructional minutes, (50 minutes per week for sixteen weeks), exclusive of enrollment, orientation, and scheduled breaks. Organized examination days may be counted as instructional days.
  • Laboratory credit is normally awarded at a rate not to exceed one-half the instructional rate. One semester-hour of credit is normally awarded for completion of a laboratory meeting a minimum of 1600 minutes (100 minutes per week for sixteen weeks).
  • Instruction offered through a combination of class and laboratory meetings would normally observe the standards set for the above on a pro rata basis. For example, a course offered for four semester-hours of credit might meet for 100 minutes of organized instruction plus 200 minutes of laboratory per week for 16 weeks.
  • Block or alternative course schedules may also occur within the dates set forth for a semester or summer session. Courses offered during academic terms shorter than a semester will observe the same academic standards involving instructional hours per semester-credit-hour as those courses offered during a standard academic semester.

There are alternatives to reliance on time-in-class as the basis for determining academic credit-hours earned. The achievement of academic credit-hours should be linked to demonstrated student learning either through regular class assignments and evaluations or demonstration of competencies.

When determining the appropriate academic credit for non-traditional or accelerated format courses, institutions must adhere to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC) Handbook of Accreditation standards. The HLC requires institutions to assess rigorously student attainment as a result of the courses they take. Institutions offering courses in accelerated or other non-traditional formats are expected to be especially diligent in documenting that students in these courses master the skills and knowledge expected of students in traditional courses.