The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. (Practices for awarding credit)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliance     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University adopts the standards of professional organizations in deciding credit hours and course levels. Additionally, the University has review processes at multiple levels to assess the amount and level of credit awarded for courses.

Amount and Level of Credit

The determination of credit [semester] hours for courses of various types that include lecture, laboratory, clinical, studio, and music ensemble courses is described in the university catalog [1-scroll down the page]. To earn a semester hour of credit for a lecture, studio or musical ensemble course, students are expected to spend at least two additional hours of out-of-class work each week for each hour spent in the classroom. To earn one semester credit hour for a laboratory course, students will spend a minimum of one additional hour of work each week outside the classroom.

The number of credit hours required is consistent with the commonly accepted practices in higher education and based on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System definition of a credit hour [2] and federal regulations regarding the award of credit as described in the SACSCOC “Credit Hours” policy statement [3].

Additionally, Francis Marion participates in the South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center [4]. This arrangement between and among South Carolina’s institutions of higher education facilitates agreeable and acceptable practices in regard to transferring and awarding credit for courses [5]. Participating institutions define course hours in part by the amount of time a student spends in class [6], and course numbers as “numbers assigned to courses to show their level of difficulty or depth/breadth of study” [7].

Francis Marion classifies courses by numbers, which indicate the class level at which they are most often taken. Class level and number sequences appear in the university catalog [8]:

  • Freshman Courses (100-199)
  • Sophomore Courses (200-299)
  • Junior Courses (300-399)
  • Senior Courses (400-499)
  • Senior or Graduate Courses (500-599)
  • Graduate Courses (600-799)

Review Processes

Whether created by faculty or by committees within departments or schools, course proposals are drafted in a standardized form [9]. This form requires departments and schools to provide a narrative explaining the purpose for the course, a course description, description of the course level, and a discussion of the teaching method that will be utilized. The form also requires a proposed syllabus, course number and credit hours. The inclusion of course level and credit hours allows the faculty to review the level/rigor of the new course against the course description throughout the review process. This form is required for all new courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery.

Once approved by the department or school faculty, the dean/chair signs the form and forwards it to the Office of the Provost for signed approval as shown in the attached sample [10]. If approved, the Provost forwards the course proposal to the fourteen-member Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate (for undergraduate courses) or the twelve-member Graduate Council (for graduate courses). The Academic Affairs Committee and the Graduate Council advise the Faculty Senate on all curriculum matters as stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016 [11, 12] and review all new course proposals [13, 14].

To provide further guidance on amount and level of credit for proposed courses, the Registrar serves as an Ex-Officio member of both the Academic Affairs Committee [15] and the Graduate Council [16]. The Registrar receives all forms and proposals (including syllabi) prior to meeting with the Academic Affairs Committee and the Graduate Council. Issues related to the amount or level of credit may be raised as indicated in the attached meeting minutes of the Academic Affairs Committee Minutes [17].

Following approval by the Academic Affairs Committee or the Graduate Council, courses must next be considered and approved by the Faculty Senate [18-scroll down to p. 2 & 6] and the General Faculty [19-scroll down to p. 2 & 6-7] before becoming part of the University’s curriculum. When courses undergo consideration by the Faculty Senate and the full faculty, there are additional opportunities for faculty members to review the amount and level of credit for each proposed course before approval is granted. See the attached Faculty Senate minutes for an example of a review of course levels for the History program [20-scroll down to p. 3 & 17], and an example of a revieiw of course credit for the English Composition sequence [21-scroll down to p. 1, 3-4, & 36-37] from the February 7, 2017 Faculty Senate meeting for an example of a review of course levels for the History program. and the minutes from the February 9, 2017 Senate meeting for an example of a review of course credit for the English Composition sequence.

Figure 1 below summarizes the procedure at Francis Marion for approving courses, programs, and policies.


Figure 1. Course, Program, and Policy Approval Process at Francis Marion

Note: If a proposal is rejected, it may return to any previous step in the process for reconsideration.


  1. Catalog 2016-2017, Semester Hour Definition, p. 52-53
  2. IPEDS Credit Hour Definition
  3. SACSCOC “Credit Hours” Policy Statement
  4. FMU Participation in SC Transfer and Articulation Center
  5. Function of SC Transfer and Articulation Center
  6. SC Transfer and Articulation Center Credit Definition
  7. SC Transfer and Articulation Center Course Number Definition
  8. Catalog 2016-2017, Course Numbering, p. 64
  9. Academic Affairs New Course Form
  10. Sample Course Proposal
  11. Faculty Handbook 2016, Academic Affairs Committee, p. 101
  12. Faculty Handbook 2016, Graduate Council, p. 107
  13. Academic Affairs Minutes, Feb. 26, 2015, Course Proposal Review
  14. Graduate Council Minutes, Feb. 21, 2017, Course Proposal Review
  15. Faculty Handbook 2016, Academic Affairs-Registrar Membership, p. 101
  16. Faculty Handbook 2016, Graduate Council-Registrar Membership, p. 106
  17. Academic Affairs Minutes, Feb. 26, 2015-Registrar Participation
  18. Faculty Senate Minutes, Feb. 7, 2017, Course Proposal Review
  19. General Faculty Minutes, Feb. 14, 2017, Course Proposal Review
  20. Faculty Senate Minutes, Feb. 7, 2017, History Course Levels
  21. Faculty Senate Minutes, Feb. 9, 2017, English Credit Hours