Title
Credit Hour Policy

One credit hour represents approximately 56 minutes of in-class lecture, discussion, or recitation (or 120 to 180 minutes of laboratory/studio work) per week, and 112 minutes of out of class work.

Most courses carry 3 semester hours of credit; several laboratory courses carry 4 semester hours of credit, combining a 3 hour lecture format with a 1 credit lab built in.  

Quality points are assigned to grades as follows: for each credit hour with a grade of A=4 quality points; A-=3.7; B+,=3.3; B=3; B-=2.7; C+=2.3; C=2; C-=1.7; D=1; F=0.  If a student earns a grade of A in a 3-semester hour course he/she receives 12 quality points; one who earns a grade of B receives 9 quality points, and so forth.  The quality point index is determined by dividing the total number of quality points earned by the number of credits attempted, that is, the number of credits for which a student is registered, whether or not the courses are passed or failed.  Since courses from which a student withdraws are not counted in credits attempted, they do not affect a student’s average.


St. Thomas Aquinas College Semester Credit Hour Policy and Compliance

New York State Credit Hour Definition

All credit bearing degree and certificate programs at St. Thomas Aquinas College are approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Calculation of credit hours for these programs follow NYSED guidelines, which are consistent with the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of a credit hour.

Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, Title 8 – Education Department, Chapter II – Regulations of the Commissioner, Subchapter A – Higher and Professional Regulations, Part 50 – General, Section 50.1 (o) stipulates the following: “Semester hour means a credit, point, or other unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments, except as otherwise provided pursuant to section 52.2(c)(4) of this Subchapter. This basic measure shall be adjusted proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study during the two semesters that comprise an academic year.”

Section 52.2(c)(4) stipulates: “A semester hour of credit may be granted by an institution for fewer hours of instruction and study than those specified in subdivision (o) of section 50.1 of this Subchapter only: (i) when approved by the commissioner as part of a registered curriculum; (ii) when the commissioner has granted prior approval for the institution to maintain a statement of academic standards that defines the considerations which establish equivalency of instruction and study and such statement has been adopted by the institution; or (iii) in the event of a temporary closure of an institution by the State or local government as a result of a disaster, as defined in section 50.1(w) of this Title, when the commissioner has granted approval for the institution to maintain a statement of academic standards that defines the considerations which establish equivalency of instruction and study and such statement has been adopted by the institution.”

US Department of Education – Credit Hour Definition

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34: Education, Part 600 – Institutional Eligibility under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, Subpart A – General, Section 600.2 stipulates the following:

“Credit hour: Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), 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 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 required in paragraph (1) of this definition 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.”

U.S. Department of Education guidance on Program Integrity regulations related to the credit hour (https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2009/credit.html) also stipulates: The credit hour definition does not dictate particular amounts of classroom time versus out of class student work.

Further note that the definition provides that a credit hour may be for an equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.  There is no requirement that a 3-semester hour course meet 3 hours per week during a semester.  The requirement is that the institution must determine that there is an amount of student work for a credit hour that reasonably approximates not less than one hour of class and two hours of out of class student work per week over a semester for a semester hour.  


POLICY

All credit hours awarded by St. Thomas Aquinas College will conform with the definitions listed above.  Therefore, all units of credit awarded will conform with the federal and state definitions.  These guidelines are also in compliance with policies set forth by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

St. Thomas Aquinas College generally follows a semester system with Fall and Spring semesters consisting of a minimum of 14 weeks, which includes one week for exams. Summer terms are typically less than 14 weeks but adhere to the policy in terms of meeting time and the amount of work required.  Terms for certain academic programs (for example, compressed schedules at the West Point Campus) have been adjusted but nonetheless adhere to the policy in terms of the amount of work required.

The faculty and program administrators are responsible for developing, maintaining and evaluating the curriculum within an academic program, although the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, as a representative of the President and the Board of Trustees, retains final control and approval of the curriculum.  Assignment of credit hours for courses is determined within the program based on faculty expertise and course learning objectives.  Existing courses will be evaluated for adherence to the federal credit hour regulation using an annual audit.  New courses will, upon review and approval at the program level, be reviewed by the Deans and the Curriculum Committee and recommended for approval or denial.

The Curriculum Committee is charged with following the policy on credit hours in their review and approval of all courses and curricula and for certifying that the expected student learning for the course meets the credit hour standard.

Approved courses are sent to the Registrar’s Office for inclusion in the College Catalog. The Registrar’s Office reviews the class schedules prior to the start of each semester to ensure that all classes are scheduled for the minimum number of minutes corresponding to the credits assigned, or otherwise notes when course schedules do not match assigned credit hours. Any discrepancies are brought to the attention of the appropriate department for correction or explanation.

The following provides general guidance on the how the credit hour translates to the particular instruction method. Note, however, that the credit hour definition does not dictate particular amounts of classroom time versus out of class student work – the information below serves as general guidance only.

Lecture and Seminar
Courses with multiple students which meet to engage in various forms of group instruction under the direct supervision of a faculty member.

Lectures and Seminars: Classroom  / Faculty Instruction and Outside Student  Work

Credits awarded

Minimum contact time per week

Minimum instructional time Total for

14 Weeks

 

(Contact time x Weeks)

Minimum Out of Class Student Work per week

Minimum Out of Class Student Work Total for 14

Weeks

 

(Outside Work x Weeks)

Total of instructional contact time and out of class student work

1

56 contact minutes

784 contact minutes

112 minutes

1568 minutes

2352 minutes

 

(39.2 hours)

2

112 contact minutes

1568 contact minutes

224 minutes

3136 minutes

4704 minutes

 

(78.4 hours)

3

168 contact minutes

2352 contact minutes

336 minutes

4704 minutes

7056 minutes

 

(117.6 hours)

4

224 contact minutes

3136 contact minutes

448 minutes

6272 minutes

9408 minutes

 

(156.8 hours)


Laboratory Credits
Courses with a focus on experiential learning under the direct supervision of a faculty member wherein the student performs substantive work in a laboratory setting.

Laboratory: Classroom  / Faculty Instruction and Outside Student Work

Credits awarded

Minimum contact time per week

Minimum instructional time Total for

14 Weeks

 

(Contact time x Weeks)

Minimum Out of Class Student Work per week

Minimum Out of Class Student Work Total for 14

Weeks

 

(Outside Work x Weeks)

Total of instructional contact time and out of class student work

1 (for lower level classes)

120 contact

minutes

 

1680 contact minutes

50 minutes

700 minutes

2380 minutes (39.6 hours)

 

 

1 (for upper level classes)

180 contact minutes

2520 contact

minutes

50 minutes

700 minutes

3220 minutes (53.6 hours)

2

360 contact minutes

5040 contact minutes

100 minutes

1400 minutes

6440 minutes

(107.3 hours)

Courses by Appointment
Courses of study, already approved and contained in the College Catalog, offered in instances where enrollment has fallen below established standards but under conditions where a student or students require that course be offered in order to progress academically (such as the need for a particular course in order to graduate).  In such instances, the faculty member will work with the student(s) to arrange meeting times which may or may not match the normal course schedule.  In all such instances, such courses must match the minimum instructional time and minimum out of class student work per week using the examples listed above, and the faculty member is required to keep records of the meeting times and length so that contact hours can be calculated.

Independent Study
Courses in which a faculty member and a student create an agreed-upon course of study that is not included in the catalog, and in which the faculty member regularly interacts and directs student outcomes with periodic contact.  Minimum credit hours are determined based on faculty instructional contact minutes and student outside work time.  In all such instances, such courses must match the total amount of work using the examples listed above, and the faculty member is required to keep records of the meeting times and student work assigned so that contact hours can be calculated.

Internship/Field Experience
Courses of study in which a faculty member regularly interacts and directs student outcomes with periodic contact, but where the actual learning environment takes place off­campus at an approved site.  The learning experience will typically involve a site supervisor or preceptor and directed activity/learning will occur outside of a lecture setting.  Contact time and outside student work requirements must be established and documented, and must match the total amount of work using the example above. The faculty member or program director responsible for the experience is required to keep records of amount of supervised work and the amount of outside work assigned so that contact hours can be calculated.

Practica
Courses of study in which a faculty member regularly interacts and directs student outcomes with periodic contact, and where the actual learning environment takes place on-campus but in a non-academic context, such as the College Radio Station, etc.  The learning experience will typically involve a site supervisor or preceptor and directed activity/learning will occur outside of a lecture setting.  Contact time and student work requirements must be established and documented, and must match the total amount of work using the example above. The faculty member or program director responsible for the experience is required to keep records of amount of supervised work and the amount of outside work assigned so that contact hours can be calculated.

Accelerated Courses
Courses, such as those offered at the West Point location, offered outside of a standard 14-week semester in which the credit hours offered are the same as standard semester courses and the content and substantive learning outcomes are the same as those in the standard semester.  These courses must meet the total amount of instructional and student work time as the examples above even if delivered within an accelerated time frame.

Online Courses
Courses offered entirely online without any on­site face­to­face meetings.  These courses have the same learning outcomes and substantive components of a standard lecture/seminar course with an alternate delivery method.  Contact time is satisfied by several means which can include, but is not limited to, the following: a.) Regular instruction or interaction with a faculty member once a week for each week the course runs; b.) Academic engagement through interactive tutorials, group discussions moderated by faculty, virtual study/project groups, engaging with class peers and computer tutorials graded and reviewed by faculty.  In all such instances, these courses must meet the total amount of instructional and student work time as the examples above even if delivered online or asynchronously.

Hybrid Courses
Courses offered in a blended format with a roughly equal number of on­site face­to­face class sessions and online sessions, both containing direct interaction with a faculty member.  Contact time is assessed using both on­site definitions (for the on­site portion) and online definitions as above (for the online portion).  In all such instances, these courses must meet the total amount of instructional and student work time as the examples above even if delivered online or asynchronously.


PROCEDURES

  1. As a part of the annual assessment process, all courses offered at the college will be reviewed by the program faculty and Deans for evidence of compliance with the semester/credit hour definitions as set forth by New York State and the U.S. Department of Education, as described above.  Information indicating such compliance will be provided to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Lastly, such results will be shared with the Registrar to ensure ongoing compliance of assignment of credit hours to courses.
     
  2. Completed credit hour reviews will be made available to the college community and appropriate administrative offices (such as the Registrar) and to academic program administrators.
     
  3. Courses which appear to be out of compliance will be evaluated and immediate measures taken to rectify the discrepancies.  New courses or changes to existing courses and curriculum will normally be evaluated as part of the work of the Curriculum Committee.
     
  4. The college catalog shall serve as the official college publication providing information on credits assigned to each college course.