Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

4.9 Definition of Credit Hours

The institution has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs that conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education and to Commission policy. (See Commission policy "Credit Hours."). (Definition of credit hours)

Judgment check box Compliance


The Academic Standards, Policies, and Procedures Committee (ASPPC) approved the current Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy in March 2015. [1]  The policy uses the federal definition of a credit hour (as described in 34 CFR 600.2, effective July 1, 2011).

Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

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:

1. 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, or

2. At least an equivalent amount of work as outlined in item 1 above for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

In December 2016, the Provost’s Office provided faculty with guidelines for the application of the credit hour policy. [2] This credit hour policy applies to all courses at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) that award academic credit on an official transcript regardless of the mode of delivery including, but not limited to, fully online, hybrid, lecture, seminar, laboratory, studio, directed study, or study abroad.  Academic units are responsible for ensuring that credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in this policy. [3]

The expectation of contact time inside the classroom and student effort outside the classroom is the same in all formats of a course whether it be in online, a hybrid of face-to-face contact with some content delivered electronically, or one delivered in lecture or seminar format. Similarly, the expectation of contact time inside the classroom and student effort outside the classroom is the same for regular semesters and shortened sessions (i.e., Spring I or Spring II Sessions). [4]

Courses that have less structured classroom schedules, such as research seminars, independent studies, directed studies, internships, practica, studio work, as well as courses offered in shortened sessions or in online or hybrid formats, at a minimum, should state clearly expected learning outcomes and workload expectations that meet the standards set forth above.  See example of an online course syllabus in the supporting documentation.  [5]

Reinhardt recognizes other forms of faculty direct instruction outside of the traditional lecture or seminar class (e.g., internships).  Credit hours for these forms of instruction are guided by the three hours of work per week formula outlined in the Federal Definition of a Credit Hour.  Reinhardt’s guidelines (page 4) provide guidance to instructors as to what learning activities constitute direct instruction and out-of-class work and the amount of time expected for each component for various modes of delivery, credit hours, and term lengths. [6]

Direct Instruction

The RU Guidelines define direct instruction as the amount of time a student is expected to be engaged in direct or guided interaction with an instructor.  Examples include, but are not limited to, in person or online lectures, seminars, discussions, art and design studios, supervised group work, and examinations. Reading assignments, homework and preparation for exams do not count toward direct instructional time. One Hour of Direct Instruction totals 50 minutes of scheduled instruction presented to students.

Out-of-Class Student Work

In accordance with the RU Guidelines, out-of-class student work is the amount of time students spend outside of scheduled or direct instruction hours with the instructor to fulfill course learning outcomes. Examples include, but are not limited to, reading assignments, working out problems, preparing for exams and quizzes, online and face-to-face group work, writing papers, and working on a project. In online and hybrid courses, active participation in online discussion boards, chats, wikis, etc., can serve as out of class student work. Simply logging on to the computer constitutes neither direct instruction nor out-of-class student work. One Hour of Out-of-Class Student Work totals 50 minutes of outside of class or nonscheduled work the typical student is expected to complete.

Academic Calendar

The RU Guidelines defines an hour of direct instruction as 50 minutes of instruction per week over the course of a 15-week semester (50 x 15 = 750 minutes). Using the standards for work outlined in federal policy, a traditional lecture class would consist of 750 minutes of direct instruction in the classroom and 1500 minutes of out-of-class student work per semester for each credit hour assigned to the class for a total of 2250 minutes of work for each credit hour.

In addition to the standard 15-week terms, Reinhardt uses summer and shortened sessions to meet diverse student scheduling needs. The start and end dates for each academic term are published on the RU website by the Office of the Registrar. Courses scheduled outside of the standard 15-week term are prorated so they contain the same number of hours as if the course were scheduled for a full semester.

Curriculum Review

The Curriculum Committee is responsible for the review and approval of credit hours for all courses according to the standards outlined in the Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy. [7] Credit hours are determined when new courses are proposed or existing courses are revised. The syllabus submitted with the application is reviewed for direct instructional time as well as the course requirements and assignments that comprise out-of-class work. The Curriculum Committee, a standing faculty committee, review and approve credit-hours associated with courses and programs.

The Guidelines also lead instructors in calculating required in class and out-of-class work time for various course modalities, and term lengths. Expectations are specified for traditionally-delivered (face-to-face) lectures & seminars, shortened session courses, hybrid or online courses, thesis and independent study, courses with laboratory, studio art classes, physical education classes, Aural Skills classes, performance/recital/ensemble courses, internships, clinical experiences, student teaching, and variable credit courses.

Evidence of Consistent Application in Awarding of Credit

Reinhardt University instructors are required to document course requirements in syllabi that adhere to the University's standards for awarding academic credit as defined in the RU Credit Hour Policy. See Reinhardt University Guidelines for Syllabi. [8]

The Deans are required to ensure that course requirements documented in course syllabi adhere to the University's standards as defined in the guidelines. In addition, the Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness may conduct periodic audits on a sample of course syllabi to verify compliance. [3]

These requirements apply to all courses, regardless of location or mode of delivery. In addition, the University Registrar annually verifies that the Reinhardt University Academic Calendars adhere to University standards as defined in the RU Credit Hour Policy. [9101112]

The Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness also guides online instructors in estimating expected times for completion of different learning activities by providing a Master List of Non-Classtime Methods and Modalities. [13] Using these estimates, the online instructors complete a credit hour audit form, specifying time expected for direct instruction as well as for various out-of-classroom learning activities. See sample audit forms from the online Bachelor of Business Administration and the online Bachelor of Criminal Justice programs. [14151617]  Instructors are asked to note exceptions from the estimated times provided in the Master List of Non-Class Time Methods. The Director of Institutional Research & Effectiveness reviews the audit forms to ensure compliance with the RU Credit Hour Policy.


Reinhardt University only awards credit for courses and programs within the commonly accepted practices in higher education. RU has documented policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs regardless of delivery method.


Supporting Documents

[1] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy

[2] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

[3] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

[4] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

[5] Sample Syllabus for Online Course (MPA 625)

[6] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

[7] Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy and Guidelines

[8] RU Syllabus Guidelines

[9] 2016-17 Traditional Undergraduate Academic Calendar

[10] 2016-17 Non Standard Academic Calendar

[11] 2016-17 Professional Studies Academic Calendar

[12] 2016-17 Graduate Academic Calendar

[13] Master List of Non-Classtime Methods and Modalities

[14] BBA 325 Credit Hour Audit Form

[15] CRJ 201 Credit Hour Form

[16] CRJ 298 Credit Hour Form

[17] CRJ 300 Credit Hour Form