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Office of the Registrar

University of Denver Credit Hour and Instructional Methodology Determination

Introduction

The credit hour is the unit by which American academic institutions measure course work. The number of credit hours assigned to a course quantitatively reflects the outcomes expected, the mode of instruction, the amount of time spent in class, and the amount of outside preparatory work expected for the class.

There are many reasons for consistent measures of course credits both within and between higher education institutions. Consistent measures of course credits make it possible for accrediting groups to compare programs at multiple institutions. They make handling of transfer credits from institutions reasonably systematic. They make it possible for institutions to issue transcripts that follow commonly-accepted practices and accurately reflect a student's academic experience. They permit federal and state reporting requirements to be analyzed, achieved and communicated. Credit hours are used to assess student workload, faculty teaching workload, and department costs. The credit hour is a basic unit of student financial aid eligibility. Federal financial aid regulations require institutions to establish and follow policies and procedures for assigning credit hours. DU's policies for assigning credit comply with federal and Colorado Department of Higher Education guidelines.

The University of Denver has established minimum guidelines for assigning credit based on instructional methodology. The guidelines apply both to the quarter and semester (Law) calendars. Federal regulations require a standard quarter to comprise ten to twelve weeks of instruction or examination and a semester to comprise approximately fifteen weeks of instruction or examination. Courses offered in alternate, nonconforming time periods such as summer or interterms, must include documented equivalent educational outcomes and student activity.

Credit Guidelines and Instructional Methodology Definitions

INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITY DEFINITIONS CONTACT HOURS PER WEEK PER CREDIT HOUR*
 Lecture Organized instructor-led classroom instruction. Lecture courses may include a variety of pedagogies such as discussion and class presentations. Generally one hour of classroom instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work per week. 1.0
Recitation or Discussion Regularly scheduled discussion session that is offered in addition to lecture instruction, but is generally scheduled in smaller groups than the lecture. This type of instruction is only offered in combination with lecture and may not be used as the only type of instruction for a course. 1.0
Seminar Organized instructor-led classroom instruction in a recitation (two-way communication) format. Usually used for smaller sections. 1.0
Laboratory Laboratory experiences (academic or clinical) that require special-purpose equipment for student participation, experimentation, observation or practice in a field of study. May involve discussion of a forthcoming laboratory or review of a completed laboratory session. Includes scheduled laboratory periods as well as laboratory experiences for which times may be selected by individual students.
Vocational or technical labs constitute instructional activities involving training for employment in a work-like environment with active faculty teaching role. In the College of Law, a lab is a simulated practice experience.
1.5 to 3.0
Studio An organized method of instruction with emphasis on the synthesizing nature of the design process and conducted through critique and one-to-one interactions. E.g., painting, sculpture and other lab-type activities conducted by faculty. 1.5
Music Individual Instruction Large ensembles (e.g., bands, choirs, orchestra, opera), music labs and the like conducted by faculty. .25 for undergraduate
.50 for graduate 
Chamber Music Ensembles Small ensembles (e.g., string quartet, woodwind quintet, brass quintet, jazz combo) receiving faculty coaching that are not conducted by faculty. 1.0
Music Ensemble or Performance Large ensembles (e.g., bands, choirs, orchestra, opera), music labs and the like conducted by faculty. 4.0 to 9.0 hours of scheduled rehearsal
Clinical or Practicum A faculty-supervised training and educational experience where the student is working in a field setting. A minimum of 3.0 hours of supervision, preparation or work
Internship, Externship or Cooperative Education Supervised experience in an area of specialization that may be conducted either on or off campus with the student making periodic reports to the instructor. Includes practicum, internship, student teaching, and cooperative work experience. A minimum of 3.0 hours of supervision, preparation or work
Independent Study or Research Independent projects or research such as special problems or special topics in which the student works more or less individually at various locations, ordinarily requiring intermittent consultation with the instructor. Credits associated with supervised, independent work must be demonstrated to be equivalent to learning outcomes, faculty supervision, and student work associated with equivalent courses.
Directed Study or Research Used where a regular catalog course is offered individually to a single student in a term the catalog course is not offered. Also may be used for specific research assignments directed by an instructor. Equivalent to specific course or credits associated with research.
Online/Distance A course in which all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies. Credit hours associated with various methods of distance delivery must be demonstrated to be equivalent to credit hours when a course is delivered in another format.
Combined/Hybrid Methodologies A course in which online (or other distance) instruction is combined with face-to-face instruction, where a substantial portion of the face-to-face instruction is replaced by online instruction. Credit hours associated with various methods of distance delivery must be demonstrated to be equivalent to credit hours when a course is delivered in another format.