Credit Hour Definition and Policy

University of Louisville

Credit Hour Policy Statement


As stated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Credit Hour Policy [PDF], “For purposes of the application of this policy and in accord with federal regulations, 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 the federal definition of a credit hour:

“Not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours 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…”

The University of Louisville (UofL) Credit Hour Policy provides a reasonable approximation of the federal credit hour definition. To address the needs of its diverse student body, UofL has established an academic calendar policy based on a standard of fourteen (14) weeks (fall/spring terms). All courses at the University of Louisville follow uniform standards for determining the amount of credit awarded. The initial credit hour recommendation is made by the faculty in the discipline in order to ensure consistency with the University of Louisville policy and the norms of the discipline.

  • A one credit hour of lecture, discussion, or seminar requires at least 50 contact minutes per week during a regular semester (as allowed by SACS and consistent with the federal recognition of the Carnegie Unit definition). Courses offered entirely or partially through distance education or other alternate methods must offer opportunities for a comparable amount of contact with the instructor.
  • In addition, each course syllabus must indicate an expectation of at least two-and-one-half hours of out-of classroom activity per week for each hour of credit.

The number of credit hours assigned to each course will be published in program curriculum materials, and in the university catalogs. The University’s electronic registration and content management systems will also reflect the approved credit hour assignments. 

The university policy allows for standard instruction, innovation, allows for the use of instructional technology, and yet adheres to the requirements established by the federal government and the applicable accrediting bodies.