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200.11 - Credit Hour Definition

200.11 – Credit Hour Definition

Date Adopted: 08/24/2015
Date Revised:  06/25/2018
References: Federal Regulation 600.2
Issuing Office: Academic Affairs
Approved By: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


Credit Hour Definition
Under federal regulations section 600.2, 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 not less than:

  1. One hour 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 of credit; or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practice, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

In most cases, one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction is considered 50 minutes of direct instruction per week over a 15 week semester.  To fulfill the direct faculty instruction requirement, classes must meet a minimum of 750 minutes or 12.5 hours per credit hour.  As the University of Montana Western uses block scheduling to organize its curriculum, blocks by credit hours require the following basic metrics to meet these requirement within each block period

No. of Credits Faculty Instruction Requirement Out-Of-Class Student Work
4 Credits 50 hours 102 hours
3 Credits 37.5 hours 75 hours
2 Credits 25 hours 50 hours
1 Credits 12.5 hours 25 hours

Most four-credit classes are offered 3 hours per day for 17-18 days per block.  This provides 51-54 hours of faculty instruction opportunity for the average class. The average 17-18 day block requires an additional 5.5-6 hours of out-of-class student work.

Online and Other Non-Traditional Courses

Credits awarded for a course or academic experience must be reasonably equivalent to the standard of 37.5 hours per credit.  These hours may consist of course activities including, but not limited to:

  • Face to face course meetings.
  • Virtual course meetings or student-instructor and student-student interaction.
  • Time to read/view assigned texts or other assigned materials.
  • Experiential learning activities consistent with the learning objective of the course.
  • Hours spent towards internship, methods/observations, independent study, research, and practicum.


This policy is consistent with Montana University System Policy 301.5 Transfer of Credits.


Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, Registrar and Faculty