I. General Policy
This policy outlines the method for determining the number of academic credit hours associated with a course. This policy applies to all “for credit” undergraduate and graduate courses and related activities, including lectures, seminars, labs, combination lecture/labs, studios, independent studies, internships, externships, and online/distance education, whether occurring on campus, online, or off-campus. These activities include all the various Methods of Instruction (e.g., face-to-face, online, etc.), Contact Time (e.g., synchronous vs. asynchronous), pedagogies (e.g., flipped, hybrid), and schedules (e.g., full semesters, quadmesters, summer sessions, part-of-term or condensed semesters, week-long or weekend seminars, etc.).
II. Roles and Responsibilities
Faculty Senate: responsible for establishing a committee(s) of faculty members to implement Office of the Registrar-maintained guidelines for determining a course’s semester credit hours and make assessments on the appropriateness of semester credit hour allocation for courses offered outside of the Schools.
Office of the Registrar: responsible for maintaining guidelines for determining a course’s semester credit hours. The Provost has the final authority to determine compliance with this policy.
Provost: responsible for overseeing the system used by the Faculty Senate and the Schools to determine semester credit hour allocations. Also responsible for approving any changes to the Office of the Registrar’s guidelines for determining a course’s semester credit hours allocation.
School: responsible for establishing a committee(s) of faculty members to implement Office of the Registrar-maintained guidelines for determining a course’s semester credit hours and make assessments on the appropriateness of semester credit hour allocation for courses offered within their School.
Contact Time: student engagement in scheduled instruction with the instructor (synchronous or asynchronous). The typical unit of contact time is the contact hour (50 minutes).
Preparation Time: student engagement outside of contact time (e.g., preparation, study and reflection). The typical unit of preparation time is the preparation hour (50 minutes).
Course Workload: the sum of contact time and preparation time.
Instructor: the Instructor of Record and the Instructor's designees (e.g., TA(s) of Record, guest lecturers, substitutes, etc.)
Semester Credit Hour: the amount of credit awarded for successful completion of 2100 minutes of total student engagement over a period of not less than fourteen weeks. Typically, this is defined as one contact hour (50 minutes) and two preparation hours (100 minutes) each week for at least 14 weeks. This unit of measure may be adjusted proportionately to reflect modified academic calendars, schedules, course types, and/or methods of instruction.
Course Types: the format in which the course is taught. This includes, but is not limited to: lectures, seminars, labs, studios, independent studies, internships, externships, etc.
Methods of Instruction: the way in which the course is delivered to a student. This includes, but is not limited to: traditional face-to-face, online/distance, hybrid, etc.
Course Levels / Course Numbering: Courses numbered 100-499 are considered undergraduate-level, with the 100-299 sequence classified as lower-level (freshman/sophomore) and the 300-499 sequence classified as upper-level (junior/senior). Courses numbered 500-and-above are considered to be at the post-baccalaureate or graduate-level. Undergraduate and graduate students may, with instructor or departmental approval, take certain courses outside their designated level.
IV. Elaboration of Policy
It is the policy of Rice University that the amount of credit that is to be awarded depends on the Course Workload, the amount of Contact Time with the instructors, and the amount of Preparation Time required for the course. A semester course typically requires two units of Preparation Time (e.g., preparation, study and reflection time) by the student for every one unit of Contact Time (synchronous or asynchronous) with the instructor. The ratio of Contact Time versus Preparation Time may vary depending on the Course Type and Method of Instruction. The determination of the appropriateness of semester credit hour allocation should be based on the Contact Hours, Course Workload, Preparation Time, Course Type, and assessment information specified for the course as well as the appropriateness of the level of credit being awarded (i.e., undergraduate work and content for an undergraduate-level course (a course numbered 100-499), or graduate work and content for a graduate-level course (a course numbered 500-and-above). The Office of the Registrar will maintain guidelines for determining the appropriate allocation of semester credit hours based on these factors; the Provost must approve any significant change to these guidelines.
The Course Workload and associated semester credit hours should be appropriately aligned to the stated learning outcomes for the course. The Provost has oversight responsibility for determining the appropriateness of semester credit hour allocations; generally, the Provost delegates this authority to the Faculty Senate and the Schools. Each School should form a School Course Review Committee (SCRC) to review new courses or modification of courses and make determinations about the appropriateness of semester credit hours awarded for the course based on the guidelines created by the Office of the Registrar. In situations where the course is offered outside of the structure of a School, the Faculty Senate makes this determination based on the guidelines created by the Office of the Registrar.
V. Cross References to Related Policies
Policy on Distance and Online Education, Technologies and Pedagogies (under development)
Faculty Senate Procedures for Creation of Online Degree Programs (under development)
Faculty Senate Procedures for Creating, Administering, and Eliminating Majors and Minors
Faculty Senate Policy on Creating and Changing Graduate Program
VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation
Responsible Official: Provost
Other Key Offices: Dean of Undergraduates; Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies; Office of the Registrar; Faculty Senate
VII. Procedures and Forms
Guideline for Determining a Course’s Semester Credit Hours – Office of the Registrar https://registrar.rice.edu/facstaff/credit_hours
Creating, Revising, and Inactivating Courses – Office of the Registrar https://registrar.rice.edu/facstaff/course-process
David W. Leebron, President
June 15, 2021