University Policy Number 3011
Categorized: Academic Policies
Responsible Office: Office of the Provost
Policy Procedure: N/A
Related Law & Policy:
- 34 CFR 600.2 (effective 7/1/21 as amended)
- Regulations Governing Certification of Certain Institutions to Confer Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates (8VAC40-31-10; State Council for Higher Education in Virginia)
- Credit Hour Policy Statement (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; SACSCOC)
- AP.2.3 Credit Hours (George Mason University Catalog)
This academic policy governs the University’s definition and assignment of credit hours.
II. Policy Statement
The University defines and assigns credit hours in accordance with the requirements articulated by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) in 34 CFR 600.2, the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The University defines “distance education” in accordance with 34 CFR 600.2 as amended and the Virginia Administrative Code (8VAC40-31-10).
For purposes of the application of this policy and in accordance with 34 CFR 600.2 as amended, the University defines a “clock hour” as a period of time consisting of:
a) A 50- to 60-minute class, lecture, or recitation in a 60-minute period;
b) A 50- to 60-minute faculty-supervised laboratory, practicum, studio session, or internship in a 60-minute period; or
c) In distance education, 50 to 60 minutes in a 60-minute period of attendance in:
i. a synchronous or asynchronous class, lecture, or recitation where there is opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students; or
ii. an asynchronous learning activity involving academic engagement in which the student interacts with technology that can monitor and document the amount of time that the student participates in the activity.
Also in accordance with 34 CFR 600.2 as amended, one credit hour at the University 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 one clock hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two clock hours out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester, or the equivalent amount of work over a different period of time; or
- At least an equivalent amount of work as outlined in item 1 above 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.
In 8VAC41-30-10, “Regulations Governing Certification of Certain Institutions to Confer Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates,” the Commonwealth of Virginia notes: “Emerging delivery methodologies may necessitate determining a unit of undergraduate … credit with non-time-based methods. These courses shall use demonstration of competency, demonstration of proficiency, or fulfillment of learning outcomes to ensure these courses are equivalent to traditionally delivered courses.” This is consistent with subsection (2) of the federal definition of the credit hour in 34 CFR 600.2 as amended.
The University adopts the federal and state definitions of the credit hour, regardless of the mode of delivery, including but not limited to: self-paced, synchronous online, asynchronous online, hybrid, lecture, seminar, and laboratory. The University further acknowledges credit-hour stipulations required by its many agencies providing specialized accreditations for specific programs, departments, and schools/colleges.
The Provost and deans are required to ensure that credit hours are awarded appropriately in accordance with this policy and federal guidelines.
In the process of approving courses, faculty committees governing educational policy shall ensure that the proposed instruction, required learning activities, and stated learning outcomes meet the requirements of this policy.
In the process of building the course schedule, the Provost and department chairs are responsible for ensuring that credit hours are accurately established.
A. Effective Date:
This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Provost and Executive Vice President.
B. Date of Most Recent Review:
January 26, 2021
VI. Timetable for Review
This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.
Provost and Executive Vice President Date