University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Expected Student Academic Work per Credit: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Policy Statement

Workload expectations in this policy are an estimate of the amount of work needed for an average student to earn an average grade.  Course grades are based on the quality of the work submitted, not on hours of effort (as provided in Administrative Policy: Grading and Transcripts: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester).  Workload expectations per credit do not vary with the method of delivery of the course or the length of the academic term.

A. Undergraduate Courses

  1. Student workload expectations per undergraduate credit. For fall or spring semester, one credit represents, for the average University undergraduate student, three hours of academic work per week (including lectures, laboratories, recitations, discussion groups, field work, study, and so on), averaged over the semester, in order to complete the work of the course to achieve an average grade. One credit equals 42 to 45 hours of work over the course of the semester (1 credit x 3 hours of work per week x 14 or 15 weeks in a semester equals 42 to 45 hours of academic work). Thus, enrollment for 15 credits in a semester represents approximately 45 hours of work per week, on average, over the course of the semester.
  2. Exceptions to undergraduate workload standard. Professional norms and the nature of the academic work may necessitate spending more than three hours of work per week on average. For example, clinical experiences, some laboratory work, and some studio activities may require more than an average three hours per week. Demands on the student in excess of the average of three hours per credit per week are permissible with college approval and with appropriate notification to the student of the amount of work expected for the course or educational experience (e.g., in class schedules, bulletins, or syllabi).
  3. Student workload statement required for undergraduate courses. All proposals for undergraduate courses must include a student workload statement demonstrating how the course conforms to the student workload expectations in sections (a) and (b). College and campus curriculum committees and other approving bodies (e.g., the Council on Liberal Education) must consider the student workload statement in reaching a decision on whether to approve a proposed course.

B. Graduate School and Professional School Courses

It is expected that the academic work required of Graduate School and professional school students will exceed three hours per credit per week.

C. All Courses

  1. For courses using one course number that enroll both undergraduate and graduate/professional students, workload expectations may be different for the two.
  2. When a course is offered at two levels (e.g., 1xxx/3xxx or 3xxx/5xxx), workload expectations will differ for the students enrolled at different levels.
  3. Instructional units should periodically review course syllabi to determine whether the number of course credits is appropriate for the expected student workload.


This policy is not applicable to the Duluth campus.

Reason for Policy

Information on workload expectations assists students in understanding the necessary time to allocate for their courses. Outlining workload expectations also allows for greater consistency across the curriculum, as well as identifies areas where the expectations are not necessarily applicable due to the nature of the course being taught. This policy implements criteria and requirements for accreditation established by the Higher Learning Commission.




Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do the student workload expectations per undergraduate credit apply to courses that are scheduled in academic terms other than the standard semester?

    Yes. The expectation of academic work per credit established for semesters applies to all academic terms. Courses scheduled during the May session, summer session, and any other special terms have the same expectations for student workload per credit as for courses held during the typical semester. For example, a one-credit course represents approximately 42 to 45 hours of academic work, regardless of the length of the academic term.

  2. Do the student workload expectations per undergraduate credit apply to all courses, including on-line and distance education courses?

    Yes. The workload expectations per credit are the same, regardless of the method of delivery of the course (for example, online, interactive video, correspondence, classroom, or a combination of delivery methods).


Subject Contact Phone Fax/Email
Primary Contact(s) Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn (undergraduate)
Toni Abts (graduate)
[email protected]
[email protected]
Crookston Campus Jason Tangquist 218-281-8424 [email protected]
Morris Campus Peh Ng 320-589-6015 [email protected]
Rochester Campus Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain 507-258-8006 [email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
  • Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn
  • Toni Abts


Average grade
According to the policy on Grading and Transcripts, an average grade (C) represents achievement that meets the course requirements in every aspect.


There are no specific responsibilities related to this policy.


September 2014 - Clarifications related to Higher Learning Commission accreditation requirements
September 2011 - Comprehensive Review. Minor clarifications made to Policy Statement including that workload expectations per credit do not vary with the method of delivery of the course or the length of the academic term and added Frequently Asked Questions section.
December 2009 - Policy now applies to Crookston.
April 2009

The University of Minnesota expectations for workload per credit were first adopted by the Faculty Senate on February 16, 1922.