Calculating Student Workload

The Federal Credit Hour

“An amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or 10 to 12 weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or 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, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.”

– U.S. Department of Education, Program Integrity

Calculating a Credit Hour

  • Total number of workload hours in a course = # of credits x 45 hours
  • Number of workload hours per week in a course = total # of workload hours / # of weeks


Course Credit Hours
Total Workload Hours
Weekly Workload in Hours
15 Weeks
7 Weeks

Credit Hour Calculators

The Rice University Course Workload Estimator, available below, enables instructors and course designers to calculate the estimated Reading, Writing, Exams, and Assignment workload in a course. Researchers at Wake Forest University also provide an enhanced Wake Forest University Workload Estimator 2.0. This calculator expands upon the original calculator, allowing users to estimate Reading, Writing, Video/Podcast, Discussion, Exam, Assignment, and Class Meeting workloads in their courses.

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