Lecture and Lab Hours to Units Ratio

City College of San Francisco Curriculum Committee

Lecture/Laboratory Hours to Units Ratio Policy

February 4, 2015

Whereas, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Program and Course Approval Handbook (5th Edition) in its discussion of Title 5 Section 55002.5 beginning on page 80, says

“Title 5, section 55002.5, establishes the minimum expected time on task (lecture, study, and/or lab work) that is necessary to award one unit of credit. A minimum of 48 hours on the semester system of lecture, study, or lab work is required for one unit of credit regardless of term length. In practice, the number of hours varies among institutions, but is generally within the range of 48-54 hours per unit for colleges on the semester system. For each hour of lecture required, it is assumed that students will be required to spend an additional two hours of study outside of class.

“The number of units awarded for laboratory courses is generally based on the number of hours of laboratory work, presuming that students complete most required work in class. For lab units, it has not traditionally been expected that the student will study outside the classroom. Therefore, the number of units granted is generally based entirely on the number of hours performed on campus under the immediate supervision and control of a qualified academic employee. For example, 54 hours of chemistry laboratory (three hours per week over 18-weeks) would grant one semester unit of credit, whereas 54 hours of chemistry lecture would grant three units.

“For credit courses, a district may choose to award units of credit in increments of one half or smaller. However, it is not permissible to approve a credit course with zero units of credit.”

And, Whereas, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Program and Course Approval Handbook (5th Edition) in its discussion of Title 5 Section 55002.5 beginning on page 80, says:

“Some community colleges have assigned a unit of lab credit for fewer than three hours a week of supervised activity in certain courses where it is expected that students will do some homework, but not as much as in a traditional lecture course. For example, in a computer applications course, there may be a certain amount of reading or additional practice required outside of class. The college may award one unit of lab credit for only two hours per week of hands-on computer instruction/activity, as long as the instructor assigns one hour per week of out-of-class study. There is no prohibition against this practice; however, it must be used with caution, particularly in regard to transferable laboratory courses. In the natural sciences, it is standard university practice to base the number of units awarded only on the in-class lecture and laboratory hours. Students wishing to transfer a course that includes two hours of lab and one hour of homework for one unit may not earn the same amount of transfer credit for major or general education purposes as that awarded at baccalaureate institutions.”

And, Whereas the City College of San Francisco Curriculum Committee is charged with defining and upholding a policy regarding a ‘Lecture/Laboratory Hours to Units Ratio,’ 

Be it Resolved that

The Curriculum Committee establish an hours-to-units policy with the following elements: 

  • 16 lecture hours is the minimum for a unit of credit. 
  • 48 lab hours is the minimum for a unit of credit, providing, however, that 32 lab hours may be used if the course requires at least 16 hours of out‐of‐class assignments for those 32 lab hours. The out‐of‐class assignments must be documented in the course outline, and must be distinct from any out‐of‐class assignments for any lecture component of the course. 
  • 17.5 weeks is the typical requirement for a full‐term course. 
  • Credit shall be calculated in ½‐unit increments. 
  • Should a course include both lecture and laboratory hours, the total student work hours for each shall be added, and the units based on that total. 

And, Be it Further Resolved that the Curriculum Committee Handbook be modified to reflect the following: 

  • The calculated unit value cannot be rounded up 
  • While the required hours values are presented as minimums for a unit of credit, students cannot be awarded fewer units than the hours required for the course. For example, if a course has a total of 48 lecture hours, the students must be awarded 3 units – the course cannot be approved as a 2‐unit course. 

And, Be it Further Resolved that the Committee will conduct information gathering about the use of conference hours in credit courses, for the purposes of making explicit their definition in the Curriculum Handbook 

Minutes Documentation