4.23 – Credit Hour Calculation; Variable Credit Courses

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 4 | Curriculum and Course Management

Responsible Executive: President

Responsible Administrator:

Last Updated: 05/10/2017



Revision History:

2017 Recompilation, formerly Rule 6.26 Parts 1-4
05/10/2017 Amendment approved by Chancellor
12/09/2016 Repeal of Policy 6.26 from Regents Policy Manual approved by Board of Regents
10/21/2015  former Policy 6.26 replicated by Board of Regents as initial Rule 6.26


This Rule establishes how credit hours are calculated.



  1. Credit Hour: Conventionally, the “Carnegie” Credit Hour is defined as one Class Hour of contact time (with an expectation of two hours of outside work) per week over a 15 week semester.
  2. Class Hour: A Class Hour must be a minimum of 50 minutes. A class must meet at least 750 minutes a semester for one credit (2250 minutes for the standard 3 credit lecture class).



In accordance with federal guidelines, academic Credit Hours for a course are determined by the amount of time students are engaged with the course content. NMSU’s established equivalency for courses bearing academic credit reasonably approximates and is not less than:

  1. One semester hour of credit is awarded for 750 minutes (12.5 hours) of faculty instruction and a minimum of 1800 minutes (30 hours) of independent student work. Students must be engaged in course activities for 2550 minutes (42.5 hours) per Credit Hour (e.g. a fifteen week semester is equivalent to one 50 minute period of instruction and two hours of out-of-class work each week), 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, practicum, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of Credit Hours.
  3. For hybrid and online courses, which do not meet the faculty contact requirements, credit is awarded based on the equivalent face-to-face course or by assessing the amount of work required by the student.
  4. For laboratory courses or courses that contain laboratories, 2P is equal to 100 minutes of laboratory time for a 15 week term (1P is equal to 50 minutes). For example, a course consisting of 3-cr. (2+2P), would require at least 100 minutes of lecture and 100 minutes of laboratory per week for 15 weeks.
  5. One semester credit of field experience requires a minimum of 40 hours of direct experience. Cooperative education credits and limits are determined by the department overseeing the cooperative education.
  6. For undergraduate research experiences a minimum of 360 minutes per week for 15 weeks is equivalent to 1 credit.



  1. Use of the Term “Variable”: The term variable in the class schedules and catalogs shall be reserved for the following courses only: 599, 600, 699 and 700.
  2. Listing of Credits: Courses showing variable credits X-Y (for example, 1-3) are limited to a maximum of 9 credits. That is, they may be listed for 1-9 credits, but not 1-10. Following the course description or title there should be a statement in regard to the maximum credit which may be taken for any given semester and the total maximum credits.
  3. Published Format: In the published class schedule the word variable following a course shall be applied to those courses in paragraph A. above. Courses referred to in paragraph A. above will be scheduled 1-3, 1-4, etc., according to the maximum credit which may be taken for any given semester.