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Academic Credit and Student Workload

The academic year at Purchase College comprises two 15-week semesters. The unit of credit is the semester hour, which represents:

  • 50 minutes per week (12.5 hours per semester) of instruction in lectures, seminars, and discussions*
  • 100 minutes per week (25 hours per semester) of instruction in studios, labs, field trips, and practica*
  • 150 minutes per week (37.5 hours per semester) of instruction in studios, labs, field trips, and practica with little or no outside preparation expected of students
  • 37.5 hours per semester of academic work in part-time, supervised independent studies

In credit-bearing courses that meet for fewer than 15 weeks (for example, short-term courses, winter session and summer session courses, and study abroad courses), the hours per week are proportionately increased.

*For each credit, students are expected to complete a minimum of two hours of academic work (study, preparation, etc.) outside of class each week. Some courses may require three or more hours of outside work each week for each credit. In particular, the BFA and MusB programs are intensive professional training programs and require students’ full-time commitment. Students in all majors are advised to limit their job and social commitments in order to give their coursework adequate attention.

Student Workload and Remote Instruction

While the use of remote instruction (distance learning) in either some or all of a particular course reduces or even eliminates the amount of in-person instruction engaged by a student in that course, expected student workload is still calculated on a per-credit basis.

Assuming a 15-week semester, for each week of a course offered in a distance format, regardless of the subject of the course or original mode of delivery (e.g. lecture, studio), students are expected to complete 3 hours of course-related activities for each credit awarded in the course. Thus, a fully online course requires 45 hours of course-related student activity for one semester credit, and a 4-credit fully online course requires 180 total hours of student activity (or, 12 hours per week).

These course-related (Time on Task) activities are normally devised and monitored by faculty, and may include listening to a lecture, watching an instructional video, posting to a group discussion board, reading an article, preparing assignments, taking online quizzes, etc.

Additional guidance on student workload and remote instruction is provided by the NY Department of Education.

For more information on transitioning courses to distance format, please see this helpful information from the Purchase College Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center (TLTC).

Updated: September 8, 2020

Related SUNY Policy: Credit/Contact Hour