The standard unit of measuring a student’s course of study is the “semester hour.” For undergraduate classroom courses , one semester hour is equal to one academic hour (50 minutes) per week of classroom or direct faculty instruction and homework and assignments, (estimated as two hours of out-of-class work) over a fifteen-week semester , or the equivalent amount of work distributed over a different amount of time. College-level lecture courses are normally assigned one credit per semester hour. Generally, lecture courses that include laboratory assignments will include additional contact hours (see below). Regular College semesters (i.e. Fall/Spring semesters) may vary between 15, 16 and 17 weeks depending on individual school or academic unit. Classes generally meet once or twice a week; the weekly course schedules are adjusted so that the total lecture hours or laboratory hours, comply with the credit-hour guidelines above.
For graduate courses, one semester hour similarly represents one hour of class and two hours of out-of-class student work per week over a 15-week semester, or a total of three hours of time-on-task per week. Since, in graduate courses, the expectation for out-of-class work and research is enhanced, the ratio of in-class to out-of-class time may vary by program, with the total of approximately three hours of time-on task-maintained.
In accord with academic practice, the Touro College and University System will also award college credit for an equivalent amount of work as described 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.
The actual amount of academic work that goes into a single semester credit hour is calculated as follows:
- One lecture, seminar, or discussion semester hour generally represents one academic (50-minute) hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and two expected hours of student preparation time. For a three-credit lecture and seminar course, this formula represents at least 45 academic hours of class time and 90 hours of student preparation over an entire semester; for a four-credit course, this represents 60 academic hours of class time and 120 hours of student preparation.
As above, the ratio of in-class instruction and out-of-class academic activities may vary at the graduate level, depending on program and course objectives and research expectations.
- One laboratory credit hour represents, over 15 weeks, 2-3 student contact hours per week, typically one hour per week of lecture/discussion time, plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 1-2 hours of student preparation and assignment time.
- The award of credit for courses combining lecture and laboratory work follows the appropriate formula for the lecture component and the laboratory component described above. A typical four-credit laboratory course will have three academic hours of lecture and two (or more) laboratory hours per week for 15 weeks or the equivalent, together with student preparation time as above. Laboratory hours may vary with individual courses, depending on course objectives.
- One practice credit hour (supervised clinical rounds, visual or performing art studio, supervised student teaching, field work, etc.) generally represents between 45 and 60 hours of work per semester, and may be offered on a weekly basis (of 3-4 hours) or as a concentrated block over a shorter period of time. Blocks of three practice credit hours, which equate to a studio or practice course, represent between 135 and 180 total hours of academic work per semester. Individual accreditation agencies may maintain their own specific standards for such courses. Touro College and University System programs follow the standards common in the respective academic and professional disciplines.
- Internship or apprenticeship credit hours are determined by negotiation between the supervising faculty and the work supervisor at the cooperating site, both of whom must judge and certify different aspects of the student’s work. The credit formula is similar to that for practice credit.
- Credit is awarded for courses undertaken on a Distance Learning, Directed Study, Contract-Learning, or Tutorial basis, provided that the course requires the amount of work represented in academic content and learning outcomes as that established for an equivalent Touro College and University System course offered in a classroom modality. As a general rule, the credit hours associated with a distance learning course or other alternative-modality course are equal to the credit hours associated with the course when it is delivered in a traditional format.
- Tutorials, which are offered only with permission of the Dean or Director, are courses offered in a classroom setting for a relatively small number of students. Tutorials meet on a regular basis with the instructor for less than the full number of hours because of the greater opportunity for accelerated learning and individualized instruction in the small-class environment.
- Touro College courses offered on a Tutorial, Directed Study, or Contract-Learning basis are expected to demonstrate total time-on-task learning activities (see below) and student outcomes equivalent to those of the standard credit formulations outlined above.
Time on task is the total learning time spent by a student in a college course, including instructional time as well as time spent studying and completing course assignments (e.g., reading, research, writing, individual and group projects). Regardless of the delivery method or the particular learning activities employed, the amount of learning time in any college course is expected to meet the total, as above, of 45 academic hours for one semester credit (in conventional classroom education, this breaks down into 15 hours of instruction plus 30 hours of student work/study out of class). Despite the difference in methodology and activities, however, the total "learning time" online can usually be counted. Rather than distinguish between "in-class" and "outside-class" time for students, the faculty member developing and/or teaching the online course should calculate how much time a student doing satisfactory work would take to complete the work of the course, as defined by:
- Reading course presentations/"lectures;"
- Reading other materials;
- Participating in online discussions/synchronous sessions (if any);
- Doing research;
- Preparing and completing examinations;
- Writing papers or other assignments;
- Completing all other assignments (e.g. projects);
- Achieving course objectives and expected learning outcomes;
- Mastering the pedagogical tools to be used in the online course (such as software or communications technology).