Academic Policy  1200.40

Credit Hour Definition

The University of Arkansas uses the Federal definition (34CFR 600.2) of a credit hour, which states:

  1. One hour1 of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of 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; or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward to the award of credit hours.

1A class hour is defined as a minimum of 50 minutes per week.

The University of Arkansas has adopted Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board Policy 5.11 in defining traditional instruction which states:

The amount of credit awarded for a course is based on the amount of time in class, the amount of outside preparation required, and the intensity of the educational experience.

  • A formal lecture course with extensive assigned reading or other out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 750 minutes or 12.5 hours of classroom instruction;
  • A laboratory class with moderate out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 1500 minutes or 25 hours of laboratory instruction; and
  • Clinical, practicum, internship, shop instruction or other self-paced learning activities involving work-related experience with little or no out-of-class preparation is awarded one semester credit for a minimum of 2250 minutes or 37.5 hours of work-related instruction.

In order to be successful, the average student will be expected to prepare for each class by engaging in a minimum of two hours of out-of-class work per week for each credit hour earned. 

Consistent with the federal definition of a credit hour, it is acceptable to replace sessions of equivalent instruction and/or examinations with alternative forms of coursework (e.g., laboratory work, practicums, out-of-class assignments and projects, assigned readings, problem sets, discussion questions, service learning experiences, a “capstone” project, etc.).

The University of Arkansas also allows credit to be awarded for non-traditional instruction (self-paced, distance technology) by demonstrating evidence of achievement, represented in intended learning outcomes, that is equal to the amount of work that is equivalent to traditional instruction-based courses.

Courses delivered by traditional methods, non-traditional methods, a combination of methods, or on a shortened term shall all have the same objectives, requirements, and quality of instruction. 

The primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with the UA Credit Hour Policy is the faculty, academic Department Chairs/Head, and designated Assistant/Associate Deans within each college or school under the supervision of the respective academic dean.