All baccalaureate degrees require completion of a minimum of 120 semester hours of credit, including all requirements for a major field of study. Undergraduate students who attempt more than 140 credit hours (or more than 110% of the hours required to complete their baccalaureate degree program) are subject to a 50% tuition surcharge on the excess hours taken.
II. Policy Statement
A course load of 15-18 hours constitutes a normal full semester load for undergraduates. A student must complete 15-16 hours per semester to complete a bachelor's degree in four academic years. Enrollment in more than 18 hours in a semester requires advance approval of the dean of the student's major college. An undergraduate student enrolled in 12 or more hours is considered to be a full-time student and must pay full tuition and fees.
A standard load for an undergraduate student enrolled in a summer session is up to 7 credit hours. Enrollment in more than 7 credit hours in a single summer session, or in concurrent summer sessions (e.g., a 10-week and a 5-week session), requires advance approval of the dean of the student’s major college.
The appropriate course load for an undergraduate student is dependent on two factors: scholastic ability as reflected by the student's academic history and available study time. Successful academic achievement usually requires at least two hours of study per week outside of class for each credit hour in which the student is enrolled. For example, enrollment in 16 credit hours would require minimally 32 hours of outside preparation per week.
At the beginning of each semester, students working toward a bachelor's degree are classified on the basis of earned semester hours (also referred to as credit hours):
Earned Semester Hours
- Bachelor's degree or baccalaureate – The degree of bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.), typically requiring a minimum of 120 hours of specified course work. A bachelor’s degree is comprised of General Education courses, a major program(s), elective courses, and, in some cases, a minor program(s), and, in general, is completed in four years.
- Credit hour – an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:
750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 1500 minutes of out-of-class student work for one semester hour of credit; or
- At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
- Semester or Term – A period of study of approximately 15 weeks, usually half of the academic year (i.e., fall and spring semesters). The fall semester begins in August and the spring semester begins in January at UNC Charlotte. There are summer terms as well: one ten-week and two five-week terms.
- Tuition – The amount of money that colleges charge for coursework and other instruction. Tuition can vary widely between educational institutions, and does not cover fees, cost of books, and other materials.
IV. Policy Contact(s)
- Authority: Faculty Council [Faculty Academic Policy and Standards Subcommittee]
- Responsible Office: Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Additional Contact(s): Office of the Registrar
- Approved: July 10, 1980
- Revised: March 26, 2015 [Split off from Academic Credit Hour Policy]
VI. Related Policies, Procedures and Resources
VII. Frequently Asked Questions
Which students are covered under this policy?
This policy applies to all undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte.
What is the difference between full time and part time?
In the Fall and Spring semesters, undergraduate students are defined as full time at 12 hours, at half time at 6 hours, and less than half time below 6 hours. In the Summer terms, undergraduate students are defined as full time at 6 hours, at half time at 3 hours, and less than half time below 3 hours.