Policy for Awarding Semester Hour Credits

All courses offered at Russell Sage College — graduate, undergraduate, and professional — comply with definition of the credit hour and the policies established by the New York State Commissioner of Education and the US Department of Education.

New York Codes Rules and Regulations (8 CRR-NY 50.1 o)
Semester hour
 means a credit, point, or other unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments, except as otherwise provided pursuant to section 52.2(c)(4) of this Subchapter. This basic measure shall be adjusted proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study during the two semesters that comprise an academic year.

US Department of Education (34 CFR 600.2)
“…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 not less than:

  1. one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work 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 in paragraph (1) of this definition 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.”

Credit Hour Policy at Russell Sage College
A contact hour is described as interaction between faculty and students via lecture, discussion, research, project/problem, debate, etc. For lecture class formats, one credit requires a minimum of 12.5 faculty contact hours (750 minutes) and a minimum of 30 hours of out-of-class student work over the course of the 15 week semester. A three-credit course is thus equal to a minimum of 37.5 faculty contact hours (2,250 minutes) with the expectation of 90 hours of student out-of-class work time. Summarized below are the credits awarded to students enrolled in a lecture course format based upon the faculty contact hours and expected student work hours.

Credits awarded for lecture- and seminar-based courses taught in a 15-week semester

CreditsFaculty Direct
Instruction Time
Faculty Direct
Instruction Time
Student Out-of Class
Work Time

In addition, the following define standard practices for awarding credits for other types of class formats:

Online or Hybrid Courses
Online and/or hybrid courses provide direct instruction time equivalent to 12.5 hours per credit awarded.  Students are expected to engage in a minimum of 30 hours of additional work for every credit awarded.

Weekend, Summer or Accelerated Courses
Courses offered at an accelerated pace during the semester or during the summer must meet the same learning outcomes as an identical course offered during the 15 week semester at the standard pace.  Faculty direct instruction time is a minimum of 12.5 hours per credit awarded.

Laboratory Courses
Science and clinical labs with 2 contact hours/week over the 15 week semester are awarded 1 credit. Labs with 3 contact hours/week over the 15 week semester are awarded 1 to 1.5 credits.  Labs with 4 or more hours/week over the 15 week semester are awarded 2 credits.

Lab-based courses offered through a combination of class and laboratory meeting observe the credit hour standards using the appropriate combination of lecture and lab guidelines (e.g. a 4-credit lecture/lab with 2.5 hours of lecture per week would have a 2-3 hour weekly lab).

Studio Art, Music, and Dance Courses

  • Studio Art Courses
    3 credits are awarded for NASAD accredited studio art courses (with prefixes such as ART, GMD and IND) that have 5 contact hours per week for 15 weeks. Non accredited studio art courses (AFA prefix) have 4.3 contact hours per week for 15 weeks and are awarded 3 credits.
  • Studio Music Courses (including Applied Voice, Applied Instrument, and Chorus)
    For every 1.5 credits awarded, students receive a minimum of 50 minutes of direct instruction per week for 10 weeks and are expected to practice for a minimum of 1 hour each day.
  • Studio Dance Courses
    3 credits are awarded for studio dance courses that have a minimum of 2.5 hours of direct instruction per week for 15 weeks. Students have additional course requirements and assignments that require a minimum of 2 hours of additional work for every credit earned.
  • Undergraduate or Graduate Internship, Practicum, Student Teaching or Clinical Placement
    The specific number of required hours per credit awarded varies depending on the discipline or the requirements set by the program’s accrediting body.  All require a minimum of 40 supervised clock hours per 1 credit awarded.

Thesis, Dissertation or Honors Project
Courses in which students are working on independent projects such as a thesis/dissertation or honors project conform to the standard minimum of 3 hours of student work per credit hour, per week, throughout the course of the semester, or the equivalent amount of work distributed over a different period of time.

Independent Study
Courses offered through independent study are awarded a varying number of credits depending on the agreement between the student and faculty member.  The student meets periodically with the professor at a schedule or frequency agreed upon at the start of the course.  Assignments and evaluation methods are communicated to the student in the course approval form and at the start of the course.  Students are expected to engage in a minimum of 3 hours of work per week for 15 weeks for every credit hour of independent study awarded.

Credit for Prior Learning
To receive credit for prior learning, students are required to prepare a portfolio that demonstrates college-level learning and the acquisition of skills in specific courses that support the student’s goals and academic degree program.  A full-time member of Russell Sage College faculty evaluates the portfolio and determines if and how much credit the student will receive. The faculty member provides the final decision on course information and the specific number of credits awarded. Credit for prior learning is linked specifically to the same learning outcomes that are met through traditional credit-bearing courses which meet the in-class expectations and out-of-class independent work expectations.

Sage Ahead Courses
All Sage Ahead courses are consistent with the Credit Hour Policy at Russell Sage College.

Course Scheduling
At Russell Sage College, the semester is 15 weeks, including a final examination week.  The academic calendar is set by the Registrar’s Office in consultation with the Provost’s Office.  The semester start and end dates are selected to insure the minimum number of days for every course offered.  Most undergraduate lecture classes meet two days per week, (Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday) for 80 minutes for a total of 160 minutes/week. The 2-hour final exam period is counted as part of the contact-hour requirement. The policy for the final exam period requires that the session be utilized whether or not an examination is given. This final exam time period can be used for student presentations, critiques, writing, or other forms of scholarly practice. The schedule of graduate courses varies, but all are in compliance with the credit hour policy.  For every contact hour in class, there is an expectation of a minimum of two hours of student work preparing for the class through reading, studying, completing scholarly research, etc.