Academic Definitions

Credits

The unit of credit is the semester hour. It is defined as one class hour per week (or its equivalent) for one semester. Thus, a lecture-discussion course which meets three hours per week ordinarily carries three semester credits. Laboratory and studio classes usually require two hours in class as the equivalent of one semester credit.

Credit Load

Since a student is expected to spend approximately two hours in preparation for each hour in the classroom, 15 credits is considered a normal semester load (for the spring and fall semesters, or proportionate amounts for shorter courses) for undergraduates. Eighteen credits is the maximum for which a student may register without obtaining special permission. Registration for more than 18 credits (including audits) may be permitted by the Associate Dean of the College in which the student is enrolled, if the student has a resident GPA of at least 3.00 and if other conditions make the overload advisable. (In the Summer and Winterim Sessions, all students may take a maximum of as many credits as the number of weeks they are attending.)

Classification of Students

Enrollment Status 

Spring and Fall Semesters

Status Undergraduate Graduate
Full-time 12 or more credits 9 or more credits
3/4 time 9-11 credits -
1/2 time 6-8 credits 4-8 credits
Less than Half-time Less than 6 credits Less than 4 credits

Winterim Session

Status Undergraduate Graduate
Full-time 2 credits 2 credits
1/2 time 1 credit 1 credit

Summer Session

Status Undergraduate Graduate
Full-time 12 or more credits 6 or more credits
1/2 time 6-8 credits 3-5 credits
Less than half-time Less than 6 credits Less than 3 credits

NOTE: Audits are excluded from credit totals. 

Full-time Equivalent Enrollment Status

The following definitions apply to the full-time equivalency (FTE) enrollment status.

Undergraduate Students

Students may enroll in a course/internship that is the equivalent of 36 hours per week for 15 weeks (36 hours per week for 11 weeks in the Summer term) to be considered a full-time equivalent for enrollment purposes.

Graduate Students

Students may enroll in a course/internship that is the equivalent of 27 hours per week for 15 weeks (24 hours per week for 11 weeks in the Summer term) to be considered a full-time equivalent for enrollment purposes.

Special Students

Students who are not formally admitted to the University are classified as special students. Registration as an undergraduate special student and Youth Option/High School special students is limited to twelve credits during fall and spring semesters. During the Summer and Winterim Sessions, all specials may take a maximum of as many credits as the number of weeks they are attending.

Class Level

Students attain class level according to the number of semester credits earned:

Freshman: fewer than 30 semester credits
Sophomore: 30-59 semester credits
Junior: 60-89 semester credits
Senior: 90 or more semester credits

Credit-Bearing Certificate Programs

Certificate programs may be earned by degree-seeking students or by community members who are not pursuing a University degree. Guidelines and standards are identical for both populations.

For those not seeking a degree, these programs offer an opportunity for an individual to earn college credit and advance toward a credential that certifies a significant level of achievement within a prescribed area. As the rate of change in the workplace accelerates, more people find it necessary to engage in continuous learning to meet the challenges of new duties and responsibilities, or career changes. Often the need is for in-depth study that goes beyond what is generally provided in noncredit professional development activities. Credit-bearing certificate programs are of particular value since the program is verified by a university transcript.

For degree-seeking students, a certificate program can be pursued to demonstrate expertise in a particular academic field. Successful completion of a certificate program may serve to satisfy graduation requirements for a second program of study or to add credentials beyond any other required programs.

Certificate programs include a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate certificates (fifteen credits for graduate certificates) and a maximum of 18 credits. A 2.00 GPA is the university minimum requirement for completion of undergraduate certificate programs (3.0 GPA required for graduate certificates).

At least 25 percent of the credits applied to the certificate program requirements must be taken in residence (50 percent for graduate certificates). Departments/programs or colleges proposing certificate programs have the right to specify 

  1. admission requirements for entry into a certificate program,
  2. minimum GPA requirements for courses included in the program,
  3. GPA requirements for certificate completion above the university minimum, and
  4. applicability of the S/U option, if any.

Specific certificates and their requirements are listed within the applicable department/program or college section of the catalog.