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5.114: Credit Hour Policy

Responsible Entity: OVCAA

Policy Language

In accordance with University of Hawai‘i Executive Policy E5.228, one (1) credit hour over a standard 15-week semester is equivalent to:

  • One semester hour* of direct instruction and two hours of out-of-class work, which may include reading, writing, and course-related assignments. (For example, a three-credit course will require three (3) semester hours of direct instruction (contact hours), and six (6) hours of out-of-class work per week.); or
  • Three semester hours of nontraditional** course work, which may include laboratory work, internship, practicum, studio work, independent study, fieldwork, online and hybrid-delivered courses. (For example, a three-credit nontraditional course will require nine (9) semester hours of course work and/or direct instruction per week.)

Courses offered during Summer Sessions, Extension Semesters, and in other accelerated formats are prorated so that classes have the equivalent number of semester hours as if the course were scheduled during a regular 15-week semester.

Review of Credit Hours

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) requires that accredited institutions regularly review the accuracy of credit hour assignments for all courses to ensure compliance with federal guidelines on the credit hour. Executive Policy E5.228 requires that each campus implement a process to conduct this review. To comply with accreditation standards and executive policy, UH Mānoa courses shall be reviewed using the following procedures:

Semester Review of Contact Hours

Each semester, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) will conduct an automated review of the course schedule for the following semester to ensure that the credit hours and contact hours comply with Executive Policy E5.228. The Vice Chancellor will provide deans and department chairs with a list of courses that fall short of the required contact hours. Department chairs (or their designees) will review the syllabi of courses identified, and provide justifications to the dean for the credit assigned. In cases

where sufficient justification is not provided, a dean may require that the coursework be revised to reflect the credits assigned, or that the credits be adjusted to reflect contact hours. If credits are adjusted downward, tuition will be refunded to students. The OVCAA will maintain a record of responses for future reference, and may request a review of these courses during program review (discussed below).

Course Approval Process

Proposals for new courses and modifications to existing courses are reviewed prior to approval. The review includes consideration of the ratio of contact hours to credit hours, and a review of syllabi to ensure learning outcomes and coursework are equivalent to the credit hours requested.

Academic Program Review Process

A review of courses is included in the periodic review of academic programs every 5 – 7 years. During program review, courses are reviewed as follows:

  1. Contact Hour/Credit Hour Review. The contact hours and credit hours for each traditional course offered over the previous two academic years will be reviewed for compliance with Executive Policy E5.228. The OVCAA will provide data to each department under review.
  2. Audit of Syllabi. A sampling of syllabi will be analyzed to ensure an adequate justification for the number of credit hours awarded upon successful completion of the course. The audit will include a review of syllabi for nontraditional courses offered during the previous two academic years.

* The audit of syllabi is conducted at the department level (only).

This policy does not apply to thesis and dissertation courses (500, 700, 800 courses).


* A Semester Hour is defined as 50 minutes of direct instruction.
** A listing of nontraditional course types may be found in Appendix A.