Contact Hours and Credit Hours

A pilot version of Guidelines for Assigning Credit Hours to Courses is available here, illustrating minimum standards for awarding credit hours for the course types identified by the Office of the Registrar (OTR).

Rice University Academic Calendars are structured to provide 14 weeks of class instruction, a period of study days, followed by a week of final exams.1

Typically, a three semester credit hour course meets for three contact hours (three 50-minute sessions or two 75-minute sessions) per week for the 14 weeks of a semester. Depending on course type (such as with a typical lecture or seminar) the expectation is that for every hour of contact time there are two hours of outside of class or nonscheduled preparation work. In total, that three semester credit hour course totals approximately 126 hours of work (42 contact hours and 84 preparation hours).”


Contact Hour: 50 minutes of scheduled instruction presented to students.

Preparation Hour: 50 minutes of outside of class or nonscheduled preparation work the typical student is expected to complete.

Semester Credit Hour: the amount of credit awarded for successful completion of one contact hour of classroom instruction and two preparation hours per week for a semester of not less than 14 weeks.

Example: for a one semester credit hour course, the typical student would be expected to invest one contact hour in class and two additional out-of-class preparation hours each week of the 14 week semester (not including exam periods).

The typical course has one unit of contact time with the instructor for every two units of preparation time by the student. As such, it is expected that three semester credit hours are equivalent to a combined total of 6300 minutes: 2100 minutes of contact (instructional presentation) time and 4200 minutes of preparation (student work effort outside of instructional presentation) time.

1 Assumes full-term (Fall or Spring) semesters; the UG program Summer School sessions are less than 14 weeks in length.

Semester Credit Hour Matrix

The matrix below allows you to identify the requisite number of contact hours/minutes (light blue), preparation hours/minutes, and combined contact and preparation hours/minutes (dark blue) for a given amount of semester credit hours.

To view the hours/minutes needed per week, use the "Semester Credit Hours - Weekly Requirement" tab. To view the hours/minutes needed over the entire semester, use the "Semester Credit Hours - Semester Requirement" tab.