Definition of Credit Hours

Definition of Credit Hours

This policy establishes a consistent definition of credit hours for use throughout the university.
Effective Date:
Responsible Party:
None Assigned
Administrative Category:
Applies To:
Faculty, Staff
Material Original Source:

UAB - Office of the Provost

Definition of Credit Hours Policy

August 1, 2014



UAB is required under the regulations of the U.S. Department of Education, adopted pursuant to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, to award course credit only if it has used a definition of “credit hour” allowed in such regulations. These regulations are designed to ensure consistency across an institution as to the time and activity required of students receiving such course credit.

Policy Statement

The deans of all schools shall ensure that all curriculum and similar committees, beginning with departmental curriculum committees up through and including any college or school curriculum committees, use the following definition of credit hour as set forth in regulations of the U.S. Department of Education:

"[A]n 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 –
(1)    One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
(2)    At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition 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."

This definition should be used in all courses at all levels (graduate, professional, and undergraduate) that award academic credit (i.e., any course that appears on an official transcript issued by UAB) regardless of the mode of delivery including, but not limited to, self-paced, online, blended, lecture, seminar, laboratory, and internship. 

This definition should also be applied to new courses as well as revisions to existing courses requiring approval by a curriculum committee.