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Academic 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 fall or spring semester.  Each unit of graduate course credit requires a minimum of four hours of student work per week, for each week throughout the spring or fall semester.  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.  Winter Session, 2-week intensive courses also follow this formula, but applied within the 2-week period.  For a Winter Session course to receive 1 credit, the course must ensure that students are actively involved inside or outside the classroom for approximately 45 hours.  

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.  Faculty might also require, or students might choose, to spend more hours than the minimum requirement.    

Assignment of Course Credit

Units of credit are assigned by the Provost in response to requests submitted from the Dean’s office from each school through the Course Proposal Form.  The form is received and processed by the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, and 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.  The Dean of each school is responsible for ensuring consistent adherence to the Credit Hour policy within their schools.  The Provost’s Office may also conduct periodic reviews of credit alignment across the curriculum.