3-8: Credit Hour Policy

Policy Overview

This policy establishes the criteria for assigning college credit for courses using various delivery methods at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College).

Scope and Applicability

This policy covers all courses created and offered for College credit and applies to all faculty creating and offering credit courses and students taking courses for credit.

Policy Statement

The College ensures that faculty and students are meeting credit hour requirements based on the federal credit hour definition in order to verify quality in meeting requirements for the award of credit toward a degree or certificate and to enable the transfer of credits between SFCC and other institutions of higher education.


  1. Accelerated or Compressed Format Courses are offered in fewer weeks than the standard 16-week semester.
  2. Blended or Hybrid Courses Are composed of both online and face-to-face instruction, where the features of both environments are used to meet the learning objectives of the course.
  3. Clinical Hour Each semester hour of credit in a clinical course requires a minimum of 2,880 minutes per semester.
  4. Credit Hour or Semester Hour Is the unit of credit for courses successfully completed, which is based on the required number of minutes of in-class time and out-of-class time and on the type of course.
  5. Directed Studies Credit courses that make use of on- or off--site, practical experience or other independent projects. Directed studies must be taken for credit (they may not be audited) and include independent studies, practicum courses, internships and externships, honors add-ons or prior learning portfolio evaluation.
  6. Honors Add-ons are independent study courses that include scholarly inquiry beyond the expectations of standard coursework. Written contracts between students and faculty members specify discipline-specific outcomes for each course.
  7. Independent Study is an approved arrangement between a faculty member and an individual student or a small group of students, and consists of the student(s) fulfilling the requirements for an existing credit course or a special project (SFCC 2017-2018 Catalog, p. 27).
  8. Internships/Externships Students enroll in an internship course and work in their field for at least 50 clock hours for each internship credit earned. Students are evaluated by faculty and training site supervisors for work they complete in the field. Internships may be paid or unpaid (SFCC 2017-2018 Catalog, p. 27).
  9. Laboratory Hour Each semester hour of credit in a laboratory class requires a minimum of 1,500 minutes of instruction per semester. Students participate in an applied learning environment working with the faculty using hands-on methods to acquire the technical and conceptual skills.
  10. Lecture Hour Each semester hour of credit in a lecture class requires a minimum of 750 minutes of instruction per semester. The main methods of instruction include lecture, class discussion, presentation, demonstration, and multi-media presentation in a regular classroom setting.
  11. Master Course Syllabus A document for each credit course that is approved by the Curriculum Committee and Vice President for Academic Affairs and includes the course credits broken into lecture, laboratory and/or clinical hours; the catalog description; major topics covered; learning outcomes; and evaluation criteria.
  12. Online Courses meet only virtually, through an online learning management system (LMS), with no on-ground meetings. The student and instructor do not meet in a physical location. Online courses may be synchronous, with regularly scheduled class meetings; asynchronous; or a combination of both.
  13. On-Ground Courses are those that meet one hundred percent in person at the SFCC main campus or other authorized meeting place such as the Santa Fe Higher Education Center.
  14. Online Courses with Required On-ground Component are those in which 76 to 99 percent of the course takes place online; however, the remainder may take place in person.
  15. Practicum Courses are designed to give students hands-on field experiences that complement their classroom learning. Students work under the supervision of faculty as part of their course work (SFCC 2017-2018 Catalog, p. 28).

Policy Process

    1. All credit courses, regardless of delivery method (accelerated, online, lecture, laboratory, clinical, directed study, honors, hybrid or blended, independent study, internship or externship, practicum (SFCC Policy 3-6 Faculty Workload) shall meet the learning outcomes defined in their master syllabus and require a minimum of student work for the credit hours granted as defined by the credit hour definition.
      Type of Course Description
      On-Ground 100% in person
      Blended or Hybrid No more than 75% is online
      Online with required on-ground component 76-99% online
      Online 100% online; proctored testing may be required
    2. It is each faculty member’s responsibility to ensure that both the instructional and homework requirements are met for each course, regardless of delivery method, appropriate to the number of credit hours assigned to the course.
    3. It is the College’s responsibility to ensure that on-ground courses are scheduled for sufficient time to meet credit hour requirements.
    4. Each semester hour of credit:
      1. In a lecture class requires a minimum of 750 minutes of scheduled instruction per semester. Additionally, for each hour of in-class time spent in a lecture course, two hours of out-of-class work (e.g., homework, reading, assignments, projects and activities) are also required.
      2. In a laboratory class, including studio, practicum and other formats, requires a minimum of 1,500 minutes of scheduled instruction per semester.
      3. In a clinical class requires a minimum of 2,880 minutes.
    5. Online courses:
      1. Must include regular and substantive interaction with students in order to meet federal requirements (Higher Education Opportunity Act, Pub.L. 110-315, 122 Stat. 3078, codified as amended at 34 C.F.R. §600.2).
      2. Must be consistent in terms of quality, assessment, learning outcomes, requirements, etc., when compared to face-to-face counterparts.
      3. Have the same credit hour requirements, department prefixes and course numbers and titles as their on-campus counterpart.
    6. Failure to comply with this policy may lead to actions as defined in SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action.

Statement of Accountability and Responsibility

The President, through the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and the Academic and Student Affairs Office, shall be responsible for enforcing academic policies and procedures. The Academic and Student Affairs Office shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention and remediation.


Higher Education Opportunity Act, Pub. L. 110-315, 122 Stat. 3078, codified as amended at 34 C.F.R. §600
Higher Learning Commission Federal Compliance
SFCC Policy 3-6 Faculty Workload
SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action
SFCC Catalog


SFCC Governing Board Approved: 1/22/2020