Skip Navigation
The "Credit Hour" and Online Classes

Is the Credit Hour awarded for Online Classes the same as on-campus classes?

Short answer:  Yes.

The idea of a "credit hour" for college level work combines the time that students would actually spend in classroom instruction along with the "Carnegie unit," the time spent outside of the classroom on activities that would lead to the accomplishment of the learning outcomes of the course.  That Carnegie unit has traditionally been calculated as two hours of work outside the classroom for every hour of time spent in the classroom.  So if a three unit class meets for approximately three hours on campus, then the Carnegie unit would demand that students spend six hours outside of class working on the learning outcomes of the class.  That makes a total of nine hours of total time devoted to the class each week.  This formula is consistent with state regulations and federal law.

But what happens when there are no on-campus activities in an online class?  Since January, 1996 when the first online classes were offered at the college, SBVC has always assumed that the total amount of time spent accomplishing the learning outcomes for an online class would match the on campus version of the class.  So if a three unit class taught on campus demands a total of nine hours each week to accomplish the learning outcomes, so too a three unit class taught in the online format would demand a total of nine hours each week to accomplish the learning outcomes.

Why is this important?  One reason is that this needs to be clear to the regional accreditation body as it evaluates the programs at SBVC.  But more importantly, this needs to be clear so that students know what to expect in an online class.  Too many students think that online classes will be "less work" than a class on campus.  That is not a wise expectation, given the policies on the credit hour at the college.  Online classes are as rigorous, take as much time and effort, and lead to the same learning outcomes as a class offered on campus.  If students have that expectation, then the odds of success in an online class increase dramatically.