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Credit Hour and Semester Time Requirements


Federal regulations state that 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 either:

  • not less than 1 hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 2 hours out-of-class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or 10 to 12 weeks for one-quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.


  • at least an equivalent amount of work as required (outlined 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.

 Guidelines for Flexibility in Interpretation

  • An institution is responsible for determining the credit hours awarded for coursework in its programs in accordance with the definition of a credit hour for Federal program purposes.
  • The institution determines the amount of credit for student work.
  • A credit hour is expected to be a reasonable approximation of a minimum amount of student work in a Carnegie unit in accordance with commonly accepted practice in higher education.
  • The credit hour definition is a minimum standard that does not restrict an institution from setting a higher standard that requires more student work per credit hour.
  • The definition does not dictate particular amounts of classroom time versus out-of-class student work.
  • In determining the amount of work the institution’s learning outcomes will entail, the institution may take into consideration alternative delivery methods, measurements of student work, academic calendars, disciplines and degree levels.
  • To the extent an institution believes that complying with the Federal definition of a credit hour would not be appropriate for academic and other institutional needs, it may adopt a separate measure for those purposes.
  • Credits may be awarded on the basis of documentation of the amount of work a typical student is expected to complete within a specified amount of academically engaged time, or on the basis of documented student learning calibrated to that amount of academically engaged time for a typical student.

TCU Credit Hour Definition:

  • The unit of measure for academic credit purposes is the semester hour. A semester hour is equivalent to one hour of recitation or a minimum of two hours of laboratory per week for a semester or an equivalent time for a shorter term. Two hours of preparation for each classroom hour, on the average, are expected” [TCU Undergraduate Catalog 2020-2021 pg. 37].
  • Most lecture-type courses offered at TCU earn three semester hours.
    • Labs, physical activity courses, and other types of instructional delivery may earn one hour.
    • Variable credit may be earned in departments such as music and art.
    • Individual studies courses may earn 1-6 hours, depending on the nature of the course and the extent of the study (independent reading, departmental honors, research, thesis, dissertation, etc.)
                     Minimum Credit Hour Requirements 
   Class Minutes  Final Exam Minutes  Total 
1-hour course  600  150  750 
2-hour course  1350  150  1500 
3-hour course  2100  150  2250 
4-hour course  2850  150  3000 


Months, Weeks, Days, Hours, Minutes

Guidelines require a minimum of 37.5 clock hours or 2,250 minutes per 3-hour class in a semester.

2,100 minutes of class time + 150 minutes for final exam = 2,250 Total

Holidays and non-class days are accounted for.