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CALS Definition of Course Credits

In 1914 the faculty of Agriculture passed legislation standardizing the credit hour: Each credit given for any course should represent approximately 3 hours per week of time spent by the student upon that course. The College has in general followed that formula ever since.

“Carnegie Unit” is the traditional measure of academic credit: 1 credit for 15 sessions of 50 minutes duration in classroom lecture-recitation each requiring 2 hours of outside preparation by the student. In 1976 the Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs reviewed the credit/contact hour relationship in a memorandum to presidents of the SUNY units:

  • Lecture, seminar, quiz, discussion, recitation: 1 credit for fifteen 50-minute sessions of classroom instruction with a normal expectation of 2 hours of outside study for each class session.
  • Activity supervised as a group (laboratory, field trip, practicum, workshop, studio): 1 credit for the equivalent of 15 periods of such activity where each activity period is 150 minutes or more in duration with little or no outside preparation expected. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, 15 periods of 100 minutes each.
  • Supervised individual activity (independent study, tutorial): 1 credit for the equivalent of contact hours of regularly scheduled sessions.
  • Full-time independent study: if essentially full-time, 1 credit for each week of work.
  • Experiential learning (acquired outside the institution (but) an integral part of a program of study, as in an internship: 1 credit for each 40-45 clock-hour week of supervised academic activity that provides the learning considered necessary to program study.
  • Credit by examination: at its discretion, an institution may award credit for mastery demonstrated by examination…to satisfy degree requirements or to reduce the total number of remaining hours required for a degree.
  • Short sessions: credits earned proportionately to those during a regular term; normally no more than 1 credit per week.