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). How many credits you earn for a course is measured by the time and attention you put into learning. For instance, 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. While the length of the semester may vary, a 3 SCH lecture course equates to 3 contact hours per week in a traditional 16-week semester.

In addition to traditional 16 week semesters, Austin Community College (ACC) offers sessions of various lengths,  including 12-weeks, 8-weeks, and others. However, to ensure the same number of contact hours are achieved, the shorter session means 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 12-week semester, you would have 4 contact hours per week (12 x 4 = 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 two hours of study/preparation outside of class for each one 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.