Colleges offer courses during a prescribed term or semester. The traditional semester is 16 weeks long in the fall (late August through early December) and spring (mid to late January through mid-May). If you take a course that has 3 contact hours per week (hours during which you are in “contact” with an instructor), you will earn 3 “semester credit hours (SCH)” upon successfully completing the course.
In addition to traditional 16 week semesters, ACC offers various semester lengths, including 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and others. To ensure the same number of contact hours, however, the shorter semesters mean more contact hours per week. For example, a 3 SCH course has 48 contact hours (3 x 16 = 48). If you took the same 3 SCH course in a 4 week semester, you would have 12 contact hours per week (4 x 12 = 48). Similarly, the same 3 SCH course in an 8 week semester would result in 6 contact hours per week (8 x 6 = 48).
ADVICE: College courses require study time outside of the class or contact time. A general rule is that you should plan for at least 2 hours of study/preparation outside of class for each 1 hour of class time. If you take a “full load” of 12-15 SCH in a semester, that means you should plan for a total time commitment of 36 hours per week for a 12 SCH course load, and 45 hours per week for a 15 SCH course load. That’s why this courseload represents a “full-time” student. Many students opt for a part-time course load of 6-9 SCH because of outside work or family commitments. Plan and manage your time wisely.
An Associate Degree typically requires a student to complete 60 SCH and a Baccalaureate Degree typically requires the completion of 120 SCH.