Credit Hours and Semester System

Op3.04-16 Credit Hours and Semester System

The unit of credit used at Missouri State is the semester hour. The university follows the semester system in which the academic year is divided into two instructional semesters with each having 15 weeks of instruction plus a final examination period. Additional instructional periods such as summer, intersession, blocks, sessions, short and extended class periods are offered.

Due to Federal regulations promulgated by the US Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission requires institutions to document how they determine in-class and out-of-class time equivalencies for distance courses and therefore document how credit hours for distance courses are determined. Missouri State University's assignment and award of credit hours shall conform to commonly-accepted practices in higher education and with the federal definition of the credit hour.

Federal Credit Hour Definition: 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 activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward to the award of credit hours. 34CFR 600.2 (11/1/2010)

The number of credit hours awarded for courses is based on the expected time required to successfully meet the course objectives. This time is a combination of activities including in-class lecture, laboratory work, outside reading, and other academic work. The following ranges can be used to determine hours to assign to laboratory components of courses.  

Credit hours Contact hours in weekly lab
(based on 15-week semester and the amount of expected out-of class effort)
1 1 to 3 hours
2 2 to 6 hours
3 3 to 9 hours
4 4 hours and above

Whereas courses taught with an online/blended format may not have specific seat time expectations, they maintain comparable quality and student learning outcomes. College courses taught in a shorter period of time than regular semester courses described in this catalog shall meet the same number of hours for both lecture and laboratories as required if offered on a semester or summer session basis.

Some courses include clinical contact hours that represent the number of hours per week the course will meet in clinical experiences outside the classroom (i.e., nursing, physical therapy, etc.). Normally clinical hours will require three or more hours per week per hour of credit.

Courses with no standard lecture or laboratory contact hours indicate class time is spent outside the normal classroom environment (i.e., field study, internships, practicums, research, service learning, supervised teaching, thesis, etc.). The numbers of credit and contact hours associated with the course are determined by the department.