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See also Non-Traditional and Distance Learning Policy.


Eastern Mennonite University uses the Carnegie unit to measure semester credit hours awarded to students for course work. A semester credit hour is often measured by the number of hours of academic engagement and preparation (study/homework). At the undergraduate level, the assumption is that students put in 2 hours of preparation per 1 hour in classroom/instructional activity. The graduate assumption is 2.5-3 hours of preparation per hour in classroom/instructional activity.

For courses offered during a regular semester that lasts at least 15 weeks of instruction, a semester credit hour is defined as 15 50-minute periods of academic engagement plus the associated undergraduate or graduate expectation for preparation time. Based on this framework,

  • for one undergraduate credit hour a student is expected to engage in classroom/instructional activity for 750 minutes or 12.5 hours and engage in additional study for 1,500 minutes or 25 hours; in total this represents 2,250 minutes or 37.5 hours of engagement per credit hour.
  • for one graduate credit hour a student is expected to engage in classroom/instructional activity for 750 minutes or 12.5 hours and engage in additional study for 1,875-2,250 minutes or 31.25-37.5 hours; in total this represents 2,625-3,000 minutes or 43.75-50 hours of engagement per credit hour.

The university assumes that students will participate in campus-wide learning via the convocation program (required as part of the undergraduate core curriculum), the Academic and Creative Excellence (ACE) Festival, and Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Study Day as part of the instructional activity that contributes to their overall academic engagement. In particular, participation in the ACE Festival and MLK Study Day is expected and often required as part of the learning activities outlined in course syllabi.

The tables below provide in-class, out-of-class and total engagement expectations for a variety of course scenarios. Note that for EMU programs in Lancaster, PA, Pennsylvania standards require 14 hours of class time per credit hour, excluding final examinations.

EMU Credit Hour Calculations.xlsx

The above university credit hour policy is consistent with the Federal definition of a credit hour articulated as follows:

“An amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates

  1. Not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item 1 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.”

(SACSCOC Credit Hours Policy Statement)

Class Meetings

The class schedule indicates the required amount of time for each class to meet. The teacher has the privilege of minor variations in the amount of time spent in class but should confer with the department chair/program director or respective dean’s office if regular or substantial deviations from the announced schedule are desired. 

The class schedule is designed to meet federal and state credit hour requirements, and in general provides for 50 minutes of classroom/instructional activity per week per credit/semester hour (e.g., 150 minutes per week for a 3 credit hour (semester hour) 15-week semester course). The class schedule’s design requires that courses meet during the final exam period (100 minutes) in order to achieve the required number of instructional hours.

Final Exams

Classes meet on regular schedule through the last class period. For the undergraduate program final examinations are to be given at the time designated by the university registrar in the final examination schedule prepared each year. The teacher or another faculty member is to be present while an examination is in progress.

Undergraduate final examinations are to be taken at the scheduled time except for emergencies. Requests are handled through the Request to Take Final Examination Out of Schedule form available in the office of the undergraduate academic dean. If the student is ill, the health services coordinator is to notify the office of the undergraduate academic dean before the time of the examination. Students who have more than two exams in one day may request to take a final examination out of schedule by the Friday before final exam week.

In the event an undergraduate student wishes to take a final examination out of schedule for non-emergency reasons, the reasons must be recognized by the teacher and the office of the undergraduate academic dean as justifiable. A fee must be paid at the business office before the student is eligible to take the test.

Payments due faculty for administering final examinations out of schedule are paid on June 30. The professor receives 75% of the student charge. See the Non-traditional Learning Policy outlining equivalency of activities to classroom instruction in the case of distance learning.

Revised for clarification July 2019
Revised March 2020
Updated and approved by Provost's Council, December 2020