Credit Hour Policy #4000.05

Purpose:  The purpose of this policy is to ensure South Central College’s assignment of credit hours is consistent with the federal definition of the credit hour and with the Higher learning Commission Policy 3.10, Credits, Program Length and Tuition, and conforms to the commonly accepted practices in higher education.

Part I.  Definitions

A. Federal Credit Hour Definition
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 reasonably approximates not less than the following:

  1. One lecture (taught) or seminar (discussion) credit hour represents 1 hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and 2 hours of out-of-class preparation.
  2. One laboratory credit hour represents 1 hour per week of lecture or discussion time plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 2 hours of student out-of-class preparation.
  3. One practice credit hour (supervised clinical rounds, visual or performing art studio, supervised student teaching, field work, etc.) represents 3-4 hours per week of supervised practice.  This represents between 45 and 60 hours of work per semester. 
  4. One independent study hour is calculated similarly to practice credit hours.
  5. Internship or apprenticeship credit hours are determined by the needs of the program and the internship site(s) and calculated similarly to practice credit hours.

B.  Clock Hours
Non-degree programs subject to clock hour requirements (an institution is required to measure student progress in clock hours for federal or state purposes or for graduates to apply for licensure) are not subject to the credit hour definition per se but will need to provide conversions to semester or quarter hours for Title IV purposes. For clock-hour institutions, Federal regulations require that a semester hour must include at least 37.5 clock hours of instruction, and a quarter hour must include at least 25 clock hours of instruction.

C.  Alternative Modes of Delivery
Alternative modes of delivery refers to any course that is provided through modes other than the traditional face-to-face model of one hour per week per each credit hour. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. Accelerated. Courses with the same seat time as the traditional fact-to-face model but in a more compressed timeframe than a traditional semester course length. May be termed late start or early end.
  2. Hybrid. Courses with reduced seat time where at least 30% of course is delivered face-to-face and the remainder through distance or online education.  These courses have the same outcomes as traditional face-to-face courses.
  3. Distance. Courses where instructors interact with students completely through distance

Delivery.  These courses have the same outcomes as traditional face-to-face courses.

D.  Federal Definition of Distance Education
Distance education/course means education that uses one or more of the [following]: technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor

  1. To support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, synchronously or asynchronously. The technologies used may include:
  2. the internet,
  3. one-way and two-way transmission through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices,
  4. audio conferencing, videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the videocassettes, DVDs or CD-ROMs are used in conjunction with any of the technologies above.

E.  Credit for Prior Learning
Credits assigned after demonstration that course outcomes have been completed and documented. Refer to MnSCU Board Policy 3.35.

Part II. Course Credit Assignments

Establishment of new courses
Each new credit course shall be brought through the Curriculum Committee (AASC designated committee) approval process as though it were a traditional face-to-face course. Each course proposal shall include the number of credits assigned as well as the number of lecture hours per week and lab hours per week. Each course proposed shall also include a Common Course Outline with specified content to be covered and learning outcomes. Assigned course credits requested shall conform to the federal credit hour definition as specified above.

Part III. Implementation

A. Dissemination of information to faculty
It is the responsibility of the Dean or designee (e.g., chair) to direct faculty members to the Common Course Outline (CCO). All faculty are expected to follow the CCO for their courses.

B. Dissemination of information to students
Common course outlines shall be available to students through a link from the College catalog.

C. Delivery of courses/alternative modes of delivery
All faculty teaching the same course are expected to address, at minimum, the learning outcomes outlined in the common course outline, regardless of mode of delivery.

D. Evaluation of Credit Hour Designation
As part of the Curriculum Committee process, course material, outcomes, will be reviewed to see if outcomes are consistent with the standard expectations for any course of that credit designation.


Date & Subject of Revisions:  March 17, 2017

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