UNC Charlotte Academic Policy: Academic Credit Hour

I. Executive Summary

All graduate and undergraduate courses are described in terms of academic credit hours as defined by this policy. UNC Charlotte adheres to a commonly accepted definition of the academic credit hour which all academic units are expected to follow.

II. Policy Statement

A credit/semester hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.  UNC Charlotte adheres to the Carnegie unit, which is a nationally recognized equivalency that consists of not less than:

  1. 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 1500 minutes of out of class student work for one semester hour of credit. Each credit hour corresponds to 50 minutes per week of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 100 minutes of out of class work per week for a 15 week semester, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, whether instruction is delivered face to face, or in a hybrid or distance mode and regardless of the type of academic work leading to the award of credit hours, such as lecture, seminar, internship, practica, studio, to name a few.  Regardless of the length of term, the standard of 750 minutes of contact minutes and 1500 minutes of out of class work for each credit hour remains the same
  2. 1500 minutes of direct faculty instruction for one semester hour of credit for a lab course.

The University Registrar prepares and recommends the annual Academic Calendar for approval by the Chancellor no less than 18 months in advance of the planned academic year. Departments are responsible for scheduling courses that meet the Carnegie unit standard, and monitoring compliance with this standard through their annual process of peer evaluation of teaching.

III. Definitions

  • Carnegie Unit – defines a semester unit of credit as equal to a minimum of three hours of work per week for a semester. This means that one unit of credit equates to three hours of student work per week (one hour lecture plus two hours of homework or three hours of lab) for 15 weeks.
  • Credit hour – 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:
  • Semester or Term – A period of study, usually a third of the academic year (i.e., Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters). Fall and Spring semesters generally include a period of study of one 16-week and two 7-week half terms. The Summer semester generally includes one eleven-week and two five-week half terms. UNC Charlotte offers courses for the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, as well as varying term lengths associated with each semester.  For the definition of each term refer to the Office of the Registrar.

IV. Policy Contact(s)

V. History

  • Approved: July 10, 1980
  • Revised: March 26, 2015  [split off Baccalaureate Degree Progression and Tuition Surcharge into its own policy; updated Credit Hour definition]
  • Revised: April 27, 2023

VI. Prior Versions

VII. Related Policies, Procedures and Resources

VIII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is this policy referenced?
    The policy is published on the Academic Policies & Procedures webpage of the Provost website and in the Glossary section of the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.
  • Which students are covered under this policy? 
    This policy applies to all graduate and undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte.