UNC Charlotte Academic Policy: Baccalaureate Degree Progression

I. Executive Summary

This policy outlines the standard course load and associated classification for undergraduate students.

II. Policy Statement

Course Load

A student should complete an average of 15 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester to complete a bachelor’s degree in four academic years. Enrollment in more than 18 credit hours in a Fall or Spring semester requires advance approval (via Academic Petition) of the dean of the student’s major college. An undergraduate student enrolled in 12 or more credit hours is considered to be a full-time student and must pay full tuition and fees.

Enrollment in the Summer semester is optional; a maximum load for an undergraduate student enrolled in the Summer semester is 7 credit hours per half term for a total of 14 credit hours. Enrollment in more than 7 credit hours in a Summer half term or 14 credit hours in a Summer semester requires advance approval (via Academic Petition) of the dean of the student’s major college. Successful academic achievement typically requires two or more hours of preparation per credit hour per week outside of class. For example, enrollment in 16 credit hours would require minimally 32 hours of preparation per week.

Student Classification

At the beginning of each semester, students working toward a bachelor’s degree are classified on the basis of earned credit hours:


Earned Credit Hours


90 or more

III. Definitions

  • Bachelor’s degree or baccalaureate – The post-secondary degree requiring 120 credit hours of specified coursework (except for programs that have applied for and received a waiver to exceed 120 credit hours from the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees). A bachelor’s degree is comprised of General Education courses, a major program(s), elective courses, and, in some cases, a minor program(s), and, in general, is completed in four years.
  • Credit/semester hours – 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.
  • 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 15-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.
  • Tuition – The amount of money that colleges charge for coursework and other instruction. Tuition can vary widely between educational institutions, and does not cover fees, cost of books, and other materials.

IV. Policy Contact(s)

V. History

  • Approved: July 10, 1980
  • Revised: March 26, 2015 [Split off from Academic Credit Hour Policy]
  • Revised: November 29, 2018 [120 credit hour standard]
  • Revised: July 1, 2019 [removed Tuition Surcharge after state repealed it]
  • Revised: April 23, 2020 [revised Course Load language, including new Summer terminology]
  • Revised: March 25, 2021 [revised Course Load language]

VI. Related Policies, Procedures and Resources

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which students are covered under this policy?
    This policy applies to all undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte.
  • What is the difference between full time and part time?
    In Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, undergraduate students are defined as full time at 12 credit hours, at half time at 6 credit hours, and less than half time below 6 credit hours.