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Semester Hour Academic Credit

Academic credit at the University of Southern Indiana is offered by the semester credit hour. At USI, a semester credit hour is based on 750 minutes of instruction per credit hour awarded. This standard is consistent with the Department of Education credit hour definition, per regulation 34 CFR §600.2 (see, which states:

"Credit Hour: Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), a credit hour is an amount of student work defined by an institution, as approved by the institution's accrediting agency or State approval agency, that is consistent with commonly accepted practice in postsecondary education and that -

  1. Reasonably approximates not less than -

    (i) 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 period of time; or

    (ii) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1)(i) 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; and

  2. Permits an institution, in determining the amount of work associated with a credit hour, to take into account a variety of delivery methods, measurements of student work, academic calendars, disciplines, and degree levels.

Credit hours awarded from courses taught via online learning or in some other non-traditional setting, format or length follow the same rules when determining the number of credit hours awarded for a particular class. This practice also follows the credit hour definition found in Department of Education regulation 34 CFR §600.2.

For every one credit hour in which you enroll, regardless of the delivery method (face-to-face or online), you will spend a minimum of two hours on outside of class preparation (based on lecture-only classes, not labs or studios, which may require more average time). Therefore, to help determine the course load most appropriate for you, use the formula:

  • 3 credit hours (1 course) = 150 minutes in class per week and a minimum of 6 hours of out-of-class preparation time per week.
  • 12 credit hours (4 courses) = 600 minutes in class per week and a minimum of 24 hours of out-of-class preparation time per week.

Students may also earn credit hours for internships. The standard minimum number of hours a student must work for each hour of academic credit is 50 internship work hours. There may be exceptions. For example, engineering internships require a minimum of 300 work hours for one academic credit hour. Students should consult program guidelines.

Students in professional majors, such as nursing, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, occupational therapy, and social work are also able to earn academic credit for work in lab or clinical experiences. The number of hours required for one academic credit hour varies by discipline and respective accrediting agency requirements.

Certain courses at USI include a laboratory component or requirement, such as science courses including chemistry, engineering, geology, physics, and biology. Students may earn additional credit hours for the lab component. Each department may determine contact time over the minimum requirement as needed.  

Beginning academic year 2013-2014, USI reduced the minimum number of credit hours required to complete a baccalaureate degree from 124 credit hours to 120 credit hours and an associate degree from 64 credit hours to 60 credit hours. One exception is the engineering baccalaureate degree programs which require additional coursework by ABET. The purpose of this change is to better enable undergraduate students to graduate in four years or fewer.

Graduate degree requirements, including minimum credit hours and other program-specific requirements, are detailed in the Graduate Bulletin.