The Fifth-Year Interim Report

Part III: The Fifth-Year Compliance Certification

4.9 Definition of Credit Hours

The institution has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs that conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education and to Commission policy.

Judgment of Compliance



Alcorn State University (ASU) has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs that conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education by assigning credit hours based on the course offering and the number of contact hours required for engaged learning or coursework in the traditional learning environment and distance learning course.  ASU’s published policy (Policy 1-18-2017-001) approved on January 18, 2017, defines a credit hour based on the application of federal regulations that were effective July 1, 2011.

 ASU CREDIT HOUR POLICY                        

The university awards academic credit only for course work completed.  The credit hour policy applies to all undergraduate and graduate programs that award academic credit (i.e., any course that appears on an official transcript issued by the university) regardless of the delivery method (traditional, face-to-face, hybrid or distance learning courses).


ASU measures academic advancement by programs and degree levels in terms of institutionally-established semester credit hours or, simply, credits, as defined by the Carnegie unit.  Specifically, the credit hour is based on the traditional 50-minute Carnegie instructional hour and adjusted to accommodate a 15-week semester.  As a proxy for undergraduate and graduate student educational engagement, a credit hour is the basic unit of measurement used to indicate the amount of instructional and learning time required to achieve the learning goals and objectives of college-level courses required by the various academic programs at Alcorn State.  Thus, for example, under the Carnegie 50-minute hour, a 1-credit hour course should have approximately 12.5 hours (which reasonably approximates 15 hours) of instructor-led activities in a 15-week semester.  When added to the implied 2 hours per week (or 30 hours in a 15-week semester) that students are expected to engage in research, assignments, and other independent learning activities beyond participation in the instructor-led activities, students are expected to allocate a minimum total of 42.5 hours (which reasonably approximates 45 hours) per semester to complete the work contained in a one-credit course. The calculation for summer sessions follows this same standard, which means longer class meeting times over the duration of the shortened term (ASU Credit Hour Policy).



ASU policy also states that “Other types of instructional delivery options (e.g., studios, laboratories, clinicals, apprenticeships, ensembles, band, cooperative education courses, internships, and practica) are assigned credit hours based on a ratio of contact hours to credit hours. The methods for assigning credit values for these types of courses are submitted by academic units and are reviewed and approved by the University Curriculum Committee and are documented in the course syllabus and course syllabi repository”.

Examples of course syllabi reflect the policy.

No grades or credits are given for audited courses.  Transfer of credit hours from another university are calculated based on the definition of credit hours before they are accepted as allowable and added to the student’s transcript.

Program Hours
Credit hours required are in accordance with Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Hours to Degree, which mandate all undergraduate programs must offer a minimum of 120 credit hours and a maximum of 124 credit hours for degree completion. Developmental and curriculum prerequisite preparative courses do not count as part of the 124 credit hour requirement.


The academic calendar at ASU is the official record of academic instruction and contact time for completion of coursework.    ASU follows the standard academic calendar, thirty weeks of instruction for the academic year with semesters 15 weeks in length, fall and spring, excluding designated university closing and exam periods. The Office of the Registrar maintains the official Academic Calendar on its website: for each academic semester and summer terms. The academic calendar is also published in the University’s Undergraduate Catalogs  2012-2014, 2014-2016, 2016-2018 and Graduate Catalogs 2012-2014, 2014-2016, 2016-2018.


Department and University Curriculum Committees review new courses and course revisions for undergraduate and graduate courses to ensure that the credit hours for each course is listed on each syllabi