North Carolina State University
SACS Compliance Certification
August 15, 2003

Comprehensive Standards: Educational Programs 3.4.6 (amount and level of course credit)
The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. 

North Carolina State University is in compliance with this standard.

The university applies well-considered, uniform standards for determining credit hours for undergraduate and graduate courses.  Most courses at the university are equal to three credit hours.  Overall, one credit hour equates to about 3 hours of the student’s time (i.e., 50 minutes in class and 2 hours studying, doing homework, preparing readings for the course).  Most 3 credit courses at NC State University meet for 150 minutes per week and the university expects its students to spend at least 2 hours per week engaged in out-of-class preparation for each class hour.  In sum, therefore, students spend about 10 hours per week on each course.  The university considers the 10-hour-standard both sound and acceptable for a 3 credit course.  

Three hours of a self-contained laboratory, problem session, or exercise period is considered the equivalent of one hour of lecture in a course.  Laboratory components that require outside preparation on the part of the student are substituted at a rate of two hours of laboratory for one hour of lecture.  Design studios are substituted at a rate of one hour of lecture for each one and a half hours of studio time.

Credit for internships, fieldwork courses and practica is determined according to this prevailing standard as well.  For instance, 1/4-time internships, etc., that require about 10 hours per week per semester earn 3 credit hours.  In contrast, 1/2-time internships requiring about 20 hours per week per semester earn 6 credit hours. 

Credit offered for courses of less than a semester's duration is commensurate with the prevailing standard as well.  In no case are more than 2 credit hours awarded for a course that meets full-time for only one week. Credit hours for intensive classes that meet less than full-time are adjusted accordingly. 

Undergraduate standards for credit hours/contact hour are reviewed by the Undergraduate Courses and Curriculum Committee and are posted on the Guidelines and Instructions for Developing or Revising Undergraduate Courses web page.  Relevant graduate level policies are developed by the Graduate School and disseminated in the Graduate Administrative Handbook.   These practices are typical across higher education.

The uniform standards summarized in this report apply equally to distance education and on-campus courses. 


  • Minutes of the Administrative Board of the Graduate School (, see point 7,Elapsed Time Per Graduate Credit Hour for Intensive Courses for Graduate Credit” for background on the policies elaborated in the current report

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