To maintain fidelity to federal program integrity regulations and requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Augusta University adheres to the Carnegie unit for contact time for all courses that award academic credit regardless of the delivery method.

The Carnegie unit for contact time means that for every credit hour awarded, faculty members must provide 750 minutes of direct instruction and out-of-class work that requires a minimum of 1500 minutes per credit hour.

The Carnegie Rule for Direct Instruction


If you teach a 3-credit hour course, you must provide 2,250 minutes of direct instruction in the semester. Direct instruction includes activities in which you teach your students directly, like classroom teaching or holding synchronous sessions in an online or blended course.


Traditional 3-credit hour course

For a F2F class on MWF over a full semester, this = 3 fifty-minute sessions weekly. So, if you teach each session, you've met this part of the policy.

Canceling class(es) or dismissing early

For each canceled class, you're now short 50 minutes of direct instruction. What if you dismiss class 30 minutes early? You're still short. Per the policy, you must provide those minutes of direct instruction to your students. It's up to you and perhaps your academic unit how you do this, but you must meet the minimum expectation of 2,250 minutes of direct instruction. Providing substitute activities is essential if you must miss class.

Activities that count toward direct instruction include:

  • In-class instruction
  • In-class tests/quizzes
  • In-class student presentations
  • Online lectures/instruction (synchronous or asynchronous)
  • Online content modules
  • Virtual synchronous class meetings
  • Videoconference meetings
  • Videoconference presentations
  • Online tests/quizzes
  • Discussion boards
  • Virtual labs
  • Virtual or non-virtual field trips
  • Virtual or non-virtual service learning
  • Group and/or team-based activities
  • Audio lectures (including podcasts) accompanied by a low-stakes assessment

Additional Details

If you cancel or miss class, you must provide direct instruction activities that fulfill the amount of time you missed. This is why the University always offers make-up days for weather-related cancellations.
If you do not provide 750 minutes (12 & 1/2 hours) of direct instruction for every credit hour of your course, you violate the Augusta University credit hour policy.


The Carnegie Rule for Indirect Instruction


The Carnegie unit for contact time means that for every credit hour awarded, faculty members must provide a minimum of 1500 minutes (25 hours) of out-of-class work.


If you teach a 3-credit hour course, you must provide students with a total of 4,500 minutes of out-of-class work in the semester according to this policy. For a traditional F2F full semester course, this equates to 300 minutes of out-of-class work each week for 16 weeks, or 4.7 hours per week.

What is out-of-class work?

Essentially, this is any work the student does as assigned or in preparation for class in which you are not directly engaged. This could include reading, homework, projects, studying, or anything defined by you and your academic unit as acceptable for this policy. Can your students complete the work you assign faster than 4+ hours per week? Maybe. But for 3-credit hour course, you still must provide out-of-class work that would take a typical student roughly 5 hours to complete.

Additional Details

You and your academic unit's leadership are responsible for ensuring that your class meets the policy requirements for out-of-class activities.

Online and Blended Courses

Blended and online courses, including all courses designated as distance learning courses, must meet the Augusta University credit hour policy for both direct instruction and out-of-class work. Because the nature of distance learning courses flips more work outside of traditional "class session" environments, faculty members and academic unit leadership must work hard to ensure that course activities are meeting the policy as prescribed. This is especially true for 8-week courses.

Regular and Substantive Interaction and Distance Education

The federal government has amended 34 C.F.R. Sec 600.2 on Distance Education to include a requirement for "regular and substantive interaction" between the faculty member and students within an online course. To meet this definition the following factors must be present:

  • The instructor (faculty member) must meet the institution's credentialing requirements
  • The student/faculty interactions must be "initiated by the instructor"
  • The student/faculty interactions must be "scheduled and predictable"
  • The content of the student/faculty interactions must be relevant to the course
  • The student/faculty interactions must contain at least two of the following:
    • Direct instruction
    • Coursework assessments or feedback from faculty
    • Information about the course content
    • Group discussion of the course content supervised by the faculty
    • Other instructional methods approved by the institution’s accreditor

How to Comply with this Policy


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Put it in your syllabus

Include a breakdown of your direct instruction and out-of-class work time in your syllabus. This quantitative description communicates time expectations to your students and holds you and your students accountable to Augusta University's credit hour policy. You can provide something like this in your syllabi for direct & indirect instruction:

A Face-to-Face full semester three-credit hour course:
This semester, you can expect our course to require this amount of time:

  • 2.5 hours of in-class time per week (2,250 minutes / 37.5 hours)
  • 4.7 hours of out-of-class studying, homework, case studies, and projects per week

An online full semester three-credit hour course:

  • 50 minutes weekly synchronous web conference = 750 minutes
  • 45 minutes weekly on course simulation activities = 675 minutes
  • 15 minutes weekly on threaded course discussion = 225 minutes
  • 30 minutes weekly on live, timed reading quizzes = 450 minutes
  • 10 minutes weekly listening to recorded instructor podcast = 150 minutes
  • 4.7 hours of weekly out-of-class studying, homework, case studies, and projects

An online 8-week three-credit hour course:

  • 90 minute weekly synchronous web conference = 720 minutes
  • Weekly discussions requiring at least 600 words = 450 minutes
  • Group simulations activities per week = 400 minutes
  • 60 minutes per week on live, timed quizzes = 480 minutes
  • Weekly student presentations via Zoom conference = 200 minutes
  • 9+ hours of weekly out-of-class studying, homework, case studies, and projects

A blended (AKA hybrid) full semester course:

  • 6 four-hour on-campus sessions = 1,440 minutes
  • 8 one-hour synchronous Zoom sessions = 480 minutes
  • Weekly timed quizzes = 330 minutes
  • 4.7 hours of weekly out-of-class studying, homework, case studies, and projects


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Provide substitute activities if you miss class

Provide a substitute method of direct instruction. If you know you will miss a class, ask a colleague to teach it instead, record your lecture in advance, or offer direct instruction via a D2L presentation, discussion, or other activity.


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Maintain awareness of policy

As you collaboratively work on syllabi and course requirements, keep the Augusta University’s Credit Hour policy in your discussions. If you plan to miss a class session, arrange for a colleague to take your place so that the class still meets or provide a substitute activity. Ensure all courses in your department are meeting the time requirement.