Calculating Credit Hours

Howard University operates on an academic year divided into two equal semesters of 15-16 weeks’ duration, with a winter break of 2-3 weeks and a summer session of 10-12 weeks, plus additional shorter breaks. The actual amount of academic work that goes into a single semester credit hour is generally calculated as follows:

  • One (1) lecture (taught) or seminar (discussion) credit hour represents 1 hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and 2 hours of student preparation time per week over a 15-16 week duration.  Most lecture and seminar courses are awarded 3 credit hours.  Over an entire semester, this formula represents at least 45 hours of class time and 90 hours of student preparation.
  • One (1) laboratory credit hour represents 1 hour per week of lecture or discussion time plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most laboratory courses are awarded up to 4 credit hours.  This calculation represents at least 45 hours of class time, between 45 and 90 hours of laboratory time, and 90 hours of student preparation per semester.
  • One (1) practice (supervised art and design studio or fieldwork) credit hour represents 3-4 hours per week of supervised and / or independent practice. This in turn represents between 45 and 60 hours of work per semester.  Blocks of 3 practice credit hours, which equate to a studio or practice course, represent between 135 and 180 total hours of academic work per semester.
  • One (1) independent study (thesis or dissertation research) hour is calculated similarly to practice credit hours.
  • Internship or apprenticeship credit hours are determined by negotiation between the supervising faculty and the work supervisor at the cooperating site, both of whom must judge and certify different aspects of the student’s work.  The credit formula is similar to that for practice credit.


The Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree Programs

Howard University’ Department of Art’s bachelor of art and bachelor of fine arts degree programs of study on a semester calendar require at least 120 credit hours to be earned by the student.  Normal full-time registration is usually 15 credit hours per semester or 30 per academic year  (shortfalls can be made up in summer sessions or independent study).  This roughly translates into at least 30-40 courses (depending on the major subject and thus the proportion of types of credit hours earned) and represents at least 5,400 – and probably more – actual hours of dedicated academic work for a non-science or non-art concentration, and well over that total for graduates of programs in the sciences, engineering, fine arts, or performing arts.


The Master of Fine Arts Degree Program

For the majority of Howard University’ Department of Art’s master of fine arts degree program areas of concentration require at least 60 credit hours and, including a thesis project, represents over 8,100 actual hours of supervised and unsupervised (independent research and creative production) study, while there is a non-related background option for the Interior Design concentration of the master of fine arts degree program that requires at least 87 credit hours including a thesis project.