2021–2022 Walden University Student Handbook (September 2021) 
    Jul 05, 2022  
2021–2022 Walden University Student Handbook (September 2021) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Credit Hour Policy

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Walden University Credit Hour Policy

Walden University assigns credit hour values on the basis of the number and type of tasks judged by the faculty to enable achievement of learning objectives as well as the estimated time needed by students to achieve the learning objectives.

The university uses the federal definition of credit hour as the starting point for the institutional definition:

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. 1 hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 2 hours of out-of- class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or 10–12 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 activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward to the award of credit hours (Ochoa, 2011, p. 5).

In recognition of the dynamic nature of the online classroom and that classroom instruction may happen at any time, no distinction is made between classroom or faculty instruction and “out-of-class” student work. Time estimates for assigning credit hours are defined as the total time spent by students in fulfillment of course requirements, which may occur inside or outside the online course platform.

Total time is interpreted as one 50-minute hour per week (equivalent to the abbreviated hour spent in traditional face-to-face course attendance) and two 60-minute hours (equivalent to course preparation activities) for a total of 170 minutes per week per credit. The specific activities composing the total time spent vary for each course. For example, some courses utilize discussion boards to a greater extent while other courses assign more research papers.

For purposes of calculating the total time equivalent to credits, a standard semester is defined as 15 weeks, and a standard quarter is defined as 10 weeks. A standardized semester credit is equal to 42.5 expected hours of work for the entire semester (170 minutes x 15 weeks). A standardized quarter credit is equal to 28.3 expected hours of work for the entire quarter (170 minutes x 10 weeks).

The university requires 42.5 hours of student work for each semester credit awarded or 28.3 hours of work for each quarter credit awarded. This time requirement represents an approximate average for undergraduate work and minimum expectations for graduate work. The number and kind of activities estimated to fulfill time requirements vary by degree level, student learning style, student familiarity with delivery method, and student familiarity with curricular content.

Assignment of credits should adhere to each of the following principles:

  • Faculty judgment, through guidance of curricula development and faculty governance, is the primary basis for assignment of credit value.
  • Credits assigned should reflect the tasks necessary to achieve the learning objectives.
  • Total time expected for the credits earned should approximate the total time as described above.
  • Credits awarded should have internal consistency across the institution.
  • Assignment of credits should fall within a range of higher education practice found across institutions with similar degree and discipline offerings.

These principles are meant to guide faculty members and course developers in making reasonable assignments of credit values and not to preclude the institution from requiring higher levels of work than might otherwise be prescribed by the credit values.

Field Experiences, Internships, Practica

Assignment of credit values to field experiences, internships, and practica are normally also driven by discipline-specific standards, including those of relevant specialized accreditations.

Research Forums

Research forums include courses awarding credits for different forms of faculty-guided independent research, including master’s theses, doctoral studies, dissertations, and Knowledge Area Modules (KAMs). Faculty members will work with students in regular planning activities that have a time commitment each term that is minimally equivalent to the time requirements indicated by the credits awarded.

Variations in Term Length

Credits awarded in terms of hours may be earned in semesters or quarters that are longer or shorter than the standard 15-week semester or 10-week quarter. In these cases, activities are distributed proportionately to those activities during a standard semester or quarter.