Catalog Policies

Credit Hour Designation and Review Policy

Credit Hour Definition

Each unit of undergraduate course credit at CalArts requires a minimum of three hours of student work per week, for each week over the duration of a given semester.  For example, each two-unit course represents 6 hours of involvement per week throughout the 15-week semester.  Each unit of graduate course credit requires a minimum of four hours of student work per week, for each week throughout the 15-week semester.  Faculty might also require, or students might choose, to spend more hours than the minimum requirement.

Using this formula, 45 hours of study in one semester is the minimum requirement for one unit of credit, and this definition holds for all types of courses (lecture, seminar, studio, independent study, lab, practicum, interim, etc.) regardless of the amount of credit offered.  Student involvement may include class time and time spent in direct interaction with faculty, as well as time spent preparing for classes through art making, participating in rehearsals, completing assignments, conducting research, reading, participating in group study or discussing class topics with others, attending relevant lectures or cultural events, or any activity that will assist the student in achieving course objectives.  

Assignment of Course Credit

Units of credit are assigned by the Provost in response to requests submitted through the Course Proposal Form, received and processed by the Associate Provost of Institutional Research & Effectiveness. The form asks for detailed information about the anticipated learning outcomes, specific expectations for work outside of the classroom, and whether it fulfills a requirement for Critical Studies (general education), as well as the number of hours that students will be expected to engage both inside and outside of class. Once approved, the Provost notifies the registrar, and the registrar updates the academic catalog.

Review of Course Credit

Reviews of course credit are conducted as part of CalArts academic program review and the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations reviews.  Four of CalArts’ six schools are active members in the council, including Art (National Association of Schools of Art and Design), Dance (National Association of Schools of Dance), Music (National Association of Schools of Music), and Theater (National Association of Schools of Theater).  These schools have long histories of adhering to and maintaining currency with the credit-hour standards of these associations.  Programs within the schools of Critical Studies and Film & Video undergo a local program review process that asks programs to demonstrate (and reviewers to evaluate) the accurate application of the credit hour definition.  

Policy Category:
Review Date:
Reviewed by Deans Council: October 16, 2012
Reviewed by Academic Council: December 6, 2012