Policy on Credit Hour Determination

Policy on Determining Credit Hours Awarded for Courses and Programs

I. Policy Statement:

For academic purposes, Clark Atlanta University uses Carnegie units to measure semester credit hours awarded to students for course work. Normally, universities award a Carnegie unit of credit to students for satisfactory completion of one (1) fifty (50)- minute session of classroom instruction for a minimum of three (3) hours of work per week for a semester of not less than fifteen (15) weeks. For example:

  1. For lecture classes, a semester credit hour consists of the equivalent of at least one (1) hour (50-minute period) per week of "seat time" in-class and two (2) hours per week of out-of- class student work for fifteen (15) weeks. Hence, a standard three (3) semester credit hour lecture class meets for at least forty-five (45) contact hours per semester, plus a minimum average of six (6) hours of activities outside of the classroom per week for fifteen (15) weeks.
  2. For laboratory classes, one (1) semester credit hour consists of the equivalent of a minimum of three (3) hours of laboratory work per week for fifteen (15) weeks.
  3. For Individual instruction classes, instructors should make adjustments so that the total number of hours of work required by students is equivalent to that of a traditional class that meets face-to-face.
  4. For classes offered in a shortened format, the hours are prorated so the classes contain the same total number of hours as if the classes were scheduled for a full fifteen 15-week semester.
  5. For graduate and professional students, the required academic work normally will exceed three (3) hours per credit per week.


Ultimately, the responsibility for protecting the academic integrity of curricula, programs, and class schedules rests with the University’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The University may adjust its basic measure for awarding academic credit proportionately to reflect modified academic calendars and formats of study as long as it meets the aforementioned criteria. The University grants semester credit hours for 2 formalized instruction in a variety of delivery modes, such as a lecture course, which also requires laboratory work and/or supervised independent study or field activities. Regardless of the mode of instructional delivery or class scheduling, the University will assign academic credit consistently across academic programs as well as for transfer credit among accredited institutions of higher education. In all cases, the student learning outcomes must be equivalent.

II. Review and Approval Process:

  1. Course developers will ensure that the required quantity of student learning per credit is the equivalent to a minimum of forty-two (42) hours and a maximum of forty-five (45) hours of coursework over a fourteen to fifteen (14-15)-week semester through instructional activities that address and demonstrate student competencies in defined learning outcomes. These instructional activities should draw upon instructional practices approved by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  2. University Governance Bodies (e.g., the University Curriculum Committee, Graduate Council, Academic Council, and University Senate) recommend to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President the appropriate semester credit hour definition and application according to the following guidelines:
    • The University's semester calendar will not violate any accreditation standards, federal guidelines, etc.;
    • The University's semester calendar will facilitate the educational attainment of the University including the process for the award of transfer credit; and
    • A semester credit hour will be consistent throughout all the academic programs of the University.

III. Policy Administration

  1. For each academic term, the University Registrar and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs will assist Deans, Department Chairs, and Program Coordinators to schedule classes in conformity to the University’s semester credit hour policy.
  2. Classes that meet for more than seventy-five (75) minutes consecutively will include a ten (10)-minute break for each seventy-five (75)-minute segment.
  3. Prior to the beginning of student registration, the University Registrar will deliver an official Banner system report verifying that all proposed class schedules meet the University’s semester credit hour policy to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for approval.
  4. If proposed class schedules do not meet minimum time requirements, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will direct School Deans to coordinate with their Department Chairs and Program Coordinators to adjust class schedules to conform to the University’s semester credit hour policy.
  5. Periodically, the University Curriculum Committee, Academic Council, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and University Senate review the semester credit hour policy as defined by Carnegie unit measure and forward recommendations to the President for approval.
  6. The University Registrar posts the policy to the University website and includes the policy in the CAU Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.