HomeFaculty & StaffAcademic RegulationsChapter 2: Computation of Credit Hours

Computation of Credit Hours


  1. Purpose.  The purpose of this chapter is to provide MCU guidance for the computation of contact hours and semester credit hours to be awarded for courses.
  2.  Credit Hours.  All credits toward the University’s master’s degrees are earned through instruction offered by the University.  Marine Corps University does not accept transfer credit from any institution. In order to serve students in the most consistent way possible, standardization is required in the computation of credit hours.  To this end, MCU uses the federal definition of a credit hour as follows:

    a.Not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, or

    b.At least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item (a) above for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
  3. Contact Hours.  The contact hour is the basic unit of attendance.  Credit hours are computed using contact hours.  The ratio between credit hours and contact hours depends on the type of coursework/ method of delivery and is defined as follows:

    a.Direct faculty instruction (e.g., lectures, seminars, films, exams, staff rides, and field studies):  One contact hour equals sixty minutes of scheduled direct faculty instruction [1:1].  With the exception of staff rides and field studies, one contact hour of direct faculty instruction is associated with a minimum of two hours of Personal Study and Preparation Time (PSPT).

    b.Experiential learning activities (e.g., student decision exercises, war games, and practical exercises):  One contact hour equals 120 minutes of scheduled experiential learning [1:2].

    c.Directed research projects (e.g., the Master of Military Studies (MMS) paper at the Command and Staff College):  One contact hour equals 180 minutes of scheduled research/mentoring time [1:3].

    d.Events such as research paper preparation as a requirement of a core or elective course, travel, social events, and administrative duties will not be included in the computation of contact hours.
    e.Non-credit blocks of instruction will not be included in the computation of total contact hours.
  4. Computation of Credit Hours.  Semester credit hours will be computed by dividing contact hours by 15, rounded to the nearest whole number using common rules for rounding.  For example, if the number of seminar/lecture hours for a given course totals 40, this would equate to three credit hours (40 / 15 = 2.67 = 3.0 credit hours).  Likewise, a 40-hour practical application exercise would equate to one credit hour (40 / 2 / 15 = 1.33 = 1 credit hour).  Finally, 40 hours of directed research/mentoring would also equate to one credit hour (40 / 3 / 15 = 0.89 = 1 credit hour).

    Reporting.  Each MCU educational program will use Appendix A to submit an annual breakdown of its contact hour and semester credit hour breakdown for its upcoming academic year no later than 1 May of each year to the University Registrar.  In order to ensure that the calculation of credit hours is consistent across the University, the Director, Academic Support Division will convene a panel to review all submissions and address any issues or inconsistencies.  Once approved, the Registrar will maintain records of the Credit Hour Report (CHR) to ensure the transcript generated for each of the MCU colleges and schools reflects the total number of semester credit hours, rounded to the nearest 1.0 credit hour, as reflected in the report.