Credit Hour Calculation Policy

As of the Fall of 2018, the Law School shall determine credit hour for coursework and other academic activity in the manner set forth herein. The determination largely depends on the classification of the academic activity in question, in the manner described below.

I. Standard Lecture Classes

For classes categorized by the Law School as “lecture” and requiring attendance in regularly-scheduled classroom sessions, the general expectation is that students will receive one credit for every fifty minutes of direct faculty instruction, multiplied by fifteen. Note that time spent by students taking and preparing for an examination in a course qualifies as part of the total. Thus, a four hour in class exam constitutes four hours of classroom work for a week.

For each 50 minutes of classroom work, instructors must require outside-of-class student work that approximates at least 120 minutes for each credit hour offered, multiplied by fifteen. Outside work may include any or all of the following: reading assignments, case briefing, written assignments, problem sets, participation in simulations and role-playing exercises, research, participation in online discussions, court observation, attendance at conferences or competitions with the instructor or the instructor’s designee, and preparation and other study activities for quizzes, midterms and final examinations.

Sources on the science of learning indicate that the number of pages an adult with a reasonable education and amount of experience will read in one hour will encompass a considerable range. That range will depend on several factors:

  • textual density;
  • the level of difficulty of the material (few, some, or many new concepts to absorb); and
  • the degree of competency the student is expected to show (whether the students’ task is to skim, to understand, or to engage fully).

These parameters vary the number of pages of assigned reading to be expected, with estimates ranging from 5 to 28 pages of casebook reading per hour. Other tasks, taken from the list of examples above, would add additional time, and should be considered when measuring the amount of time necessary per hour.

Instructors may, in their discretion, reasonably reduce the amount of regularly scheduled classroom sessions and replace them with outside-of-class student work. The most obvious way in this might be done is to require a 24 hour take home examination in lieu of an in class three hour take home examination for a three credit class. If in the estimation of the instructor, the preparation for and taking of the take home is the same as might be undertaken to prepare for and take a three hour in class examination, the instructor may substitute one for the other. In courses that do not utilize examinations, other work such as writing short papers for the class may substitute for the time spent in class, or preparing for or taking examinations. That said, in lecture courses, classroom contact hours may not be substituted with outside-of-class student work for more than 20% of regularly scheduled classes.

II. Seminars

Seminars must satisfy a 42.5 hours per credit requirement by any reasonable combination of in-class instructional time and assigned out-of-class project time (and/or associated faculty-student contact time) adding up to the desired credit-hour total for the class over the semester (generally 1, 2 or 3 credits). Out-of-class project time in seminars must be devoted to the research and writing of papers or other written assignments. The number of credits awarded in a seminar does not have to match the hours of contact hours through weekly in class-meetings. In other words, a 3-credit seminar does not mandate a 3-hour class every week during the semester, as long as the credit burden of the writing assignment(s) is adjusted accordingly.

While the instructor has general discretion over the number of pages required for out-of-class projects done for credit in a seminar or writing course, a twenty page paper (or its equivalent in serial assignments) is generally deemed the equivalent of one credit hour, theoretically representing 42.5 hours of student work, and a 30 page paper (or its equivalent in serial assignments) is deemed the equivalent of two credit hours, theoretically representing 85 hours of student work. Instructors may impose reasonable requirements for particular seminars and writing classes above this minimum standard.

III. Distance Courses

For classes categorized by the Law School as “distance” wherein instruction will be delivered via a video delivery method, whether synchronous or asynchronous, current pedagogical research suggests that students will learn more effectively through less direct faculty instruction than in standard lecture courses, and more time engaged in exercises and other out of class activities. Therefore, the Law School requires no minimum faculty instruction time, and leaves it to individual instructors to determine how the 42.5 hours of work per credit hour is to be balanced as between video lecture on the one hand, and out of class student work on the other, so long as students engage in a minimum of 42.5 hours of work per credit hour awarded.

IV. Clinics and Practicums

Students seeking credit for work in a clinic or practicum must have a minimum of 42.5 hours per credit hour awarded. This includes time spent in direct faculty instruction in classroom time, out of class work in connection therewith, and field hours. The policy for the calculation of credit for classroom time and out of class work in connection therewith is the same as applies for lecture courses, described in Section I above.

As concerns field hours, students must keep and maintain a record of their out-of-class time devoted to the clinic or practicum over the course of the term in which work is undertaken. This record may include, but is not limited to, time spent in field placement, researching, drafting and filing memoranda, client letters, briefs, and motions, attending and participating in court sessions, engaging in other aspects of client representation, designing and developing systems for delivering legal information, reviewing institutions and systems for regulatory compliance, and creating and supporting law reform enterprises and campaigns. The total amount of time recorded for field hours must equal or exceed the minimum of 42.5 hours for each credit that is awarded.

Individual instructors of clinics or practicums may impose reasonable requirements for field hour credits above the 42.5 minimum hours designated herein on the basis of the instructor’s determination of what constitutes effective and competent performance as concerns such clinic or practicum. Such requirements must be included in the class syllabus, and in the course description available to students.

V. Independent Studies

Students may receive one independent study credit for every 42.5 hours of work they put into an independent study project. A twenty page paper (or its time equivalent in other written assignments of lesser length) is generally deemed sufficient for the award of one credit theoretically representing 42.5 hours of student work, and a thirty page paper (or its time equivalent in other written assignments of lesser length) is deemed the equivalent of two credits theoretically representing 85 hours of student work. To the extent that an instructor requires a lesser page limit than those described above, the faculty member must inform the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in writing respecting the reasons for the deviation.

VI. Teaching and Research Assistantships

Teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants (RAs) may receive one credit for every 42.5 hours of work they undertake in support of an instructor’s class, research or clinical project, for a maximum of two academic credits per semester. Eligible work for TAs includes class attendance, review of student assignments, instruction-related contact time with class students outside of class, and contact hours with the instructor. Eligible work for RAs includes research time, time devoted to clinical work, contact hours with the instructor, and time taken in the preparation of a written research product, if any. Students seeking credit(s) for TA or RA assignments must log their hours and get the approval of their supervising instructor respecting the hours logged before receiving credit(s). Instructors may impose reasonable requirements for TA and RA credits above 42.5 hours.

VII. Moot Courts & Law Journals

Students seeking credit for work in moot courts and law journals must maintain and report a record of their time devoted to the related activity over the course of the term in which work is undertaken. Students are to include a description of work undertaken throughout the semester. This record may include time spent with reading, researching, writing, cite-checking, attending structured group study or meeting with supervising instructors, preparing for competition (excluding travel) and in actual competition. The total amount of time recorded must meet a minimum of 42.5 hours for each credit that is awarded. Students will submit their records to the relevant faculty adviser at the end of each semester for approval of such hours.

VIII. Externships

Students seeking credit for work in an externship must keep and maintain a record of their time devoted to the externship over the course of the term in which work is undertaken. Each student must have logged a minimum of 42.5 hours for each credit hour received in each term in which such credit is sought, for a maximum of four credits per semester. The record may include time spent in orientation or other instruction, field placement, reflective writing assignments, research, writing, attending structured group study or meetings with supervising instructors and/or clients, client representation, writing a paper where applicable, designing and developing systems for delivering legal information, reviewing institutions and systems for regulatory compliance; and creating and supporting law reform enterprises and campaigns. Students will submit their records to the Externship Program Co-Directors, who have discretion to approve the hours and the resulting credits.

IX. Compliance

a. New Courses

The Curriculum Committee shall consider these policies in connection with any proposed new courses. Prior to approving any new course, the Curriculum Committee shall ensure that the requirements set forth above are met through review of the proposed syllabus and related course information. Where relevant, the Curriculum Committee shall request further information from the instructor of the proposed course to ensure that the course complies with these policies.

b. Existing Courses

In July of each year, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall review the syllabi and course descriptions of all distance courses taught at the law school in the forthcoming year to ensure that they conform to the standards set forth above. The Associate Dean shall further review at that time one third of the syllabi and course descriptions of lecture courses and practicums taught by adjunct faculty in the forthcoming year to ensure that they conform to the standards set forth above, with the aim being to review each adjunct course every three years. To the extent that the Associate Dean finds a deviation from these policies, the Associate Dean shall work with the instructor to remedy it, and, failing such amicable resolution, shall refer the matter to the Curriculum Committee with a recommendation to remove the course from the curriculum at the earliest reasonable opportunity. The decision of the Curriculum Committee in this regard shall be final and binding.

The Curriculum Committee shall review in August of each year one fifth of the syllabi and course descriptions of all lecture courses, seminars, clinics and practicums taught by full time faculty to ensure compliance with the above standards, with a goal of reviewing each such course every five years. The Curriculum Committee shall work directly with a faculty member to address any deviations from these standards.