This policy guides academic units in scheduling the instructional time for a specified number of course credits as well as workload expectations for students. Expectations per credit do not vary with the method(s) of delivery of the course or with the length of the academic term.
Instructional time per course credit is defined to provide a consistent minimum expectation for students and faculty. Students and faculty should know in general what time commitment is involved for a specified number of course credits.
- An hour of instructional time refers to a 50-minute block of scheduled instructional time. For all academic sessions, courses, and modalities, hours of instructional time for a course must equal at least the number of credits for the course times 15 weeks in an academic term.
- Instructional time is defined for these purposes as instruction the student receives in a class. Instructional time does not include office hours or informal time spent with students.
- Course proposals must include information regarding instructional time. Proposals must provide significant evidence to justify a schedule that includes fewer total instructional hours than the standard defined in paragraph (1.) in the Instructional Time section of this policy. Instructional hours of all types equal to or in excess of the standard defined in paragraph (1.) in the Instructional Time section need not be justified.
- When reviewing a course proposal, college and campus curriculum committees and other approving bodies (e.g., the Council on Liberal Education) must consider the instructional hours in reaching a decision on whether to approve a proposed course; such bodies should normally reject course proposals that have fewer instructional hours than the standard defined in paragraph (1.) in the Instructional Time section, barring significant evidence that reduced instructional contact hours are appropriate.
- Courses for individualized instruction such as directed study, directed readings, directed research, and internships, which require a written contract outlining the responsibilities of the student for the course, are explicitly exempted from this standard, and may have fewer instructional hours per week than the standard, however, the total expected effort per credit (comprised of instruction and mentored student work) is the number of course credits times the number of weeks in a standard academic term.
Expected Student Academic Work
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
- Student workload expectations per undergraduate credit. For fall or spring semester, one credit represents an average of three hours of academic work per week (including lectures, laboratories, recitations, discussion groups, field work, study, and so on) in order to complete the work of the course to achieve an average grade. One credit equals 45 hours of work over the course of the semester (1 credit x 3 hours of work per week x 15 weeks in a semester equals 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.
- 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).
- Lab and studio courses. The ratio of instructional time and student work time may differ for lab and studio courses. The total time expected for these courses is the same formula. One credit x 3 hours x 15 weeks.
- Student workload statement required for undergraduate courses. All syllabi for undergraduate courses must include a student workload statement demonstrating how the course conforms to the student workload expectations student workload expectations in sections (A) and (C). 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
- For courses using one course number that enroll both undergraduate and graduate/professional students, workload expectations should be different for the two careers and clearly articulated in the syllabus.
- When a course is offered at two levels (e.g., 1xxx/3xxx or 3xxx/5xxx), the type and scope of work will differ for the students enrolled at different levels, which may impact workload expectations.
- Academic units/departments 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
This policy implements criteria and requirements for accreditation established by the Higher Learning Commission and compliance with the federal definition of a “credit hour” for financial aid eligibility.