About Credits & Contact Hours

The University of Colorado Boulder follows a semester system:

  • Fall and spring semesters consist of a minimum of 15 weeks, plus one week for exams.
  • Special sessions within fall and spring, as well as summer sessions, are typically less than 15 weeks and must adhere to the policy in terms of contact hours and the amount of work required. See the special cases section below.

The faculty and program administrators are responsible for developing, maintaining and evaluating the curriculum within an academic program, although college, school and/or university requirements must still be met. Assignment of credit hours for courses are determined within the program based on content and course learning objectives.

Class schedules are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar prior to the start of each semester to ensure that all classes are scheduled for the minimum number of minutes corresponding to the credits assigned, or otherwise notes when course schedules do not match assigned credit hours. Any discrepancies are brought to the attention of the appropriate department for correction or explanation.

Credit-Hour Guidelines

The following provides general definitions of the class types and instructional methods employed by CU Boulder, as well as guidance on how credit hours translate for each.

The information below serves as general guidance only, and the definitions do not dictate particular amounts of classroom time versus out-of-class student work. However, out-of-class requirements that account for required contact time must be noted in that semester's schedule of classes and in the syllabus distributed to students at the beginning of the term.

Note: Sections with nonstandard or no formal meeting patterns must ensure they are meeting the required number of minimum contact hours (or the equivalent for online and hybrid offerings).

Guidelines by Class Type (Component)