Penn State
Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA
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Credit Hours for Coursework

A. Definitions (to Comply with ABA Standard 310)

A “credit hour” is (1) an amount of work that reasonably approximates not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for fifteen weeks (including one week for final exams) or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required in subpart (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by Penn State Law, including simulation, field placement, clinical, co-curricular, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.  The law school defines an “hour” for classroom or direct faculty instruction as fifty minutes, as required by ABA Interpretation 310-1.  Faculty will determine the number of hours required for each unit of credit; at a minimum, students must complete 42.5 hours for 1 credit; 85 hours for 2 credits, 127.5 hours for 3 credits; and 170 hours for 4 credits. 

This credit hour definition will be used as the standard in the faculty’s review of the law school’s curriculum, the course approval process, and the ongoing management of the school’s academic program. Accordingly, all new course proposals must include a justification for the number of credits to be awarded that includes out-of-class work (see Sec. B below), as well as the time to be spent in class sessions.  Because pedagogical goals and student assessments vary depending on the nature of the course –whether a traditional exam course, an experiential learning course, or a paper course, to name a few examples -- there will necessarily be some flexibility built into the application of this policy.  In addition, this policy applies to all academic activities for which the law school awards credit, including in-house clinics, field placements, externships, independent studies, and co-curricular activities such as the law journals, the appellate moot court program, and the mock trial program.

B. Student Work Outside the Classroom

Per Section A.1 above, students are expected to devote at least two hours to out-of-class work for each in-class hour scheduled for the course. Out-of-class work may include such activities as reading assignments, case briefing, written assignments other than examinations, solving problem sets, participating in out-of-class simulations and role-playing exercises that help students develop lawyering competencies, research assignments, posting to an online discussion board, conferences with the instructor, and other work that assists in comprehension of course content such as outlining and studying for examinations.