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Assignment of Credit Hours

See Course Approval Form: Course Credit Type

Credit hours for graduate courses are based, in general, on contact hours. The ratio of credit to contact is shown below for each of the major course types offered at the graduate level for full term courses (13–14 weeks) and for courses of shorter duration. It is assumed that each hour of class time spent in a lecture or seminar will be accompanied by 2 to 3 hours of time spent in independent preparation (readings, papers, etc.).

Courses that do not appropriately fall within any of the categories described will be treated individually. The course description must explain the conditions for credit.

Courses may be offered for variable credit hours (either for a range of credits in a single term, or for a different number of credits from one term to another). The course proposal should clearly indicate one of the following course credit types:

Lecture

Definition

The instructor is principally responsible for the preparation of the subject matter and the conduct of the class, including one-way lecture and/or back-and-forth exchange of ideas.

Number of contact hours per week

One weekly class contact hour per credit.

Seminar

Definition

Students are principally responsible for preparing materials and leading class discussions. Emphasis is on individual research and peer exchange of knowledge.

Number of contact hours per week

For each seminar, the number of weekly class contact hours may range from 2/3 of an hour to 2 hours per credit.

  • There may be fewer class contact hours per week for seminars based on students’ original research. (Example: A 3-credit seminar course that meets 2 hours per week.)
  • There may be more class contact hours per week for seminars based on students’ experiences and/or case studies. (Example: A 3-credit seminar course that meets 4 hours per week.)

Recitation

Definition

The instructor is principally responsible for the preparation of the subject matter and leading students in a two-way analysis of presented material. A Recitation is a stand-alone course, distinct from a Discussion (see below), which usually supplements a lecture course.

Number of contact hours per week

One weekly class contact hour per credit.

Laboratory

Definition

Students engage in exercises and/or investigations under the direction and supervision of the instructor.

Number of contact hours per week

  • Two to four weekly class contact hours per credit.
  • There may be fewer class contact hours per week for labs presenting material not associated with related course lectures, or for labs requiring students to put in additional time before or after class for preparatory research and/or writing reports. (Example: A 1-credit lab that meets 2 hours per week.)
  • There may be more contact hours per week for labs presenting supplementary exercises to another course, or for labs that are self-contained and involve no preparation or reporting outside of lab time. (Example: A 1-credit lab that meets 4 hours per week.)

Discussion

Definition

Students and instructor engage in two-way communication usually based upon the contents of a lecture.

Number of contact hours per week

One weekly class contact hour per credit.

Independent Study

Definition

Students receive individual consultation and guidance from the instructor. Total student effort should be comparable to that involved in lecture or seminar courses.

Number of contact hours per week

Contact between instructor and student is required, but not necessarily on a weekly basis.

Experiential

See Course Approval Form: Course Component(s) / specify under “Other”

Definition

The student’s main effort takes place in a work, clinic, or research setting, other than the usual classroom, laboratory, studio, or library, and under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. The instructor’s supervision is generally less direct or less intensive than in a laboratory course, and the work is generally oriented more toward practice and less toward research. A paper or other product should be prepared that brings the academic point of view to bear on the experience and permits the instructor to evaluate the breadth and depth of understanding achieved.

Number of contact hours per week

Four to eight weekly contact hours in the setting per credit.

  • Fewer contact hours in the setting will be necessary for an experiential course in which a considerable amount of the student’s time is devoted to reading, research, and other academic activities to which the field experience is supplemental. More contact hours will be necessary if the academic component involves a less significant proportion of the student’s time.
  • Fewer contact hours in the setting will be necessary for an experiential course in which the student receives a significant amount of supervision and instruction from a regular member of the graduate faculty. More contact hours in the setting will be necessary if the student receives less direct supervision, or less time devoted to instruction, from the graduate faculty.

Special Topics Courses

Departments may wish to reserve an open number of courses which will be of special interest or satisfy a special need for students. Such courses are typically those that departments are uncertain will be offered more than once or where the course content may vary. For such reasons, approval may be requested for a course for which title, content, specific credit hours, etc., are not specified.

  • In the original request for approval, the department should describe the kind of course they expect to offer under the special topics number, which students are expected to enroll in such courses, and what faculty will teach them. If the course may be repeated for credit, the course proposal should so state.
  • A special topics course number will be approved only on the condition that any course offered under that number would meet the guidelines for graduate credit.
  • For special topics courses in which the content varies, the department should review the proposed contents of the course with respect to level, appropriateness, and extent of content and teaching method.
  • A one-term course modification may be submitted for the special topics number in order to permit a descriptive title to be recorded on students’ transcripts (and in the Time Schedule, if the modification is sent early enough).

“Short Courses”

Not on Course Approval Form

These may be off-campus or on-campus courses of shorter duration than the regular full or half term offerings. They provide departments with flexibility in designing their curricula, although Rackham expects that such courses will be designed only when there are sound academic reasons for doing so. Short courses are expected to be as academically rigorous as courses that extend for the full length of the term. The following guidelines will be used to determine the appropriate credit to be assigned to shorter courses approved for graduate credit:

  • Short courses that are predominantly lecture or seminar and which require readings, written assignments and/or examinations must consist of a minimum of 14 contact hours for each credit.
  • Courses which are predominantly laboratory, studio or experiential (field work, practicum, clinical, etc.) and in which the emphasis is on the instructor’s supervision of the student’s work, must consist of a minimum of 18 contact hours for each credit.
  • All short courses including lectures, seminars, workshops, laboratories or experiential based courses should extend for at least five days, and consist of at least three separate meetings for each credit.
  • Because students will have the option of using “short course” credits toward a Master’s degree and because many elect these courses with the specific intent of doing so, proposals for “short courses” must specify the provisions that will be made for formal academic advising. Although this might take the form of written materials, some mechanism should also be documented in the course description, which guarantees that off-campus students will have easy access to an academic advisor in order to plan a coherent academic program.

Last updated: October 4, 2013 - 2:46pm