Credit Hour Standards

The following information provides the policy and procedures used to determine the assignment of credit hours at the College and the methods used to determine the length of the academic term.

University Policy and NYS Law 

The College utilizes the policy established by the State University of New York and New York State Education Law. Credit refers to the unit of academic award applicable toward a degree offered by the institution (See: NYCRR § 50.1 and 52.2). A credit hour (semester hour) is granted using the standards as determined by NYS law and the State University of New York Policies and Procedures of the University. The official SUNY Cortland policy is located in Part Four (410.06) of the College Handbook.

  • A semester (credit) hour is earned when there is 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. 
  • SUNY Cortland adheres to a standardized two-compulsory-semester academic year. A full semester credit hour is  granted for satisfactory completion of one 50-minute session of classroom instruction per week for a semester consisting of fifteen weeks of instruction

Semester Credit Hour Requirements: Instructional Types

Lecture, Seminar, Discussion, Recitation One semester credit hour in a lecture (standard) course is earned with satisfactory completion of fifteen 50-minute sessions of classroom instruction with a minimal expectation of two hours of outside study for each class session. Typical three-semester credit hour courses will meet typically meet in three 50-minute sessions per week for fifteen weeks or two 75-minute sessions for fifteen weeks.  Once-weekly sections may also meet for 150 minutes.

Standard Class Meeting Schedule

Scheduling Principles

Group Formats (Laboratory, Practicum, Studio, Activity) One semester credit hour in group formats are awarded for the equivalent of fifteen periods of the activity where each activity period is 150 minutes or more in duration with little or no outside preparation expected. Forty-five 50-minute sessions of such activity would also normally earn one semester credit hour. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of fifteen periods of 100 minutes duration each will earn one semester credit hour.

Standard Class Meeting Schedule

Scheduling Principles

Supervised Individual Study One credit for independent study (defined as study given initial guidance, criticism, review and final evaluation of student performance by a faculty member) will be awarded for the equivalent of forty-five 50-minute sessions of student academic activity.

Credit for tutorial study (defined as study which is given initial faculty guidance followed by repeated, regularly scheduled individual student conferences with a faculty member, and periodic as well as final evaluation of student performance) will be awarded on the basis of one semester hour credit for each equivalent of fifteen contact hours of regularly scheduled instructional sessions.
Full-time Independent Study (Student Teaching, FT Internships, Fieldwork) If a student's academic activity is full-time (e.g. student teaching) one semester credit hour may be applied for each week of work.

Career Services Guide

Internship Request Form

Teaching Handbook & Policies

Teaching Evaluation

Experiential Learning When internship field or work experience is to be credited as a concurrent portion of the student's academic program, one semester credit hour will be awarded for each 40-45 clock-hour week.

Career Services Guide

Internship Request Form

Short Semesters and Non-Compulsory Terms Credit hours may be earned in short sessions (summer sessions, intersessions, etc.) proportionately to those earned for the same activity during a regular term of the institution, normally at no more than one credit per week of full-time study.

Summer and Winter Session Courses

Laws and Regulations

Additional Policies and Resources Related to Credit Hour Assignment

Contact Hours and Scheduling

The Registrar's Office utilizes standard course time/day scheduling to ensure that courses meet the contact hour standards for the awarding of academic credit. Courses that require exceptional time/day scheduling are required to obtain dean approval (per the course scheduling principles) and are required to show that contact hours will still be met when deviating from the normal time-day patterns (e.g. lengthened required meetings on Monday and Wednesday to accommodate changes to a normal Monday-Wednesday-Friday pattern).  After course build deadlines and prior to the locking of the final schedule, the Registrar's Office performs additional final course build audits, which includes a report of course meeting patterns that deviate.The student information system's scheduling tools also include a calculation of contact hours based on the schedule and term dates. If any contact hour shortage are found, they are reported to departments who must remedy the schedule error or provide justification to the school dean. 

All courses are required to meet regularly in accord with the official College academic calendar. The academic calendars are established by the President's Cabinet through consultation with a campus-wide committee. Calendars are adopted in intervals of four academic years. If the College is required to alter the academic term due to an emergency or crisis, it may do so in accord with policies and/or direction from the State University of New York and/or the New York State Department of Education. 

Credit Hours in Curricular Development and Review

Course and curriculum review and development is guided by the faculty in concert with the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. The SUNY Cortland Curriculum change Guide provides the standards for course and program approvals, including semester credit hour assessment. Academic departments must submit course and program proposals and alterations in accord with the SUNY Cortland Curriculum Procedures and Policies.  AS part of review, Cortland curriculum committees adhere to credit hour standards, including minimum credit hour standards, established by State University of New York Policy and New York State Education Law.  Program proposals and alterations will utilize the SUNY templates to establish compliance with policy and law. 

General and Undergraduate Program Registration and Alteration NYSED requirements for overall program registration, including minimum credit hour requirements for degrees.

Undergraduate Program Review

New Program Registration (Undergraduate)

Revision Proposals

Professional Education Program Changes

Program Proposal Form

Graduate Program Registration and Alteration

Graduate Program Proposals and Review

Steps in Graduate Programs Submissions (SUNY)

New Program Registration (Graduate)

Revising an Existing Program (Graduate)

Approval Documents and Notifications

Campus curricular actions are maintained and published on the Curriculum site.

Proposals are submitted and advanced using the campus workflow tool used to facilitate proposals, approvals and notifications.

Associated Policies and Guidance Regarding Credit Hours

Curriculum Change Guide (Cortland) Credit hour changes requires curricular review and considered a level 2 "substantial curricular change that impacts the originating department or area, and/or affects other programs." Change Guide
State Education Department (SED) Requirements 

Credit hour contact hour requirements are enforced by SED and established under Title 8, Chapter 2 of New York's Codes, Rules and Regulations.

Education Law
Guide to Academic Program Planning Overview of academic program planning for faculty, academic administrators and others who are involved in creating, revising, suspending or terminating credit-bearing academic programs and non-credit certificates in licensure areas. Guide to Academic Program Planning