The institution has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs that conform to commonly accepted practice in higher education and to Commission policy.


Compliance Judgment: In compliance




As a constituent member of the University of North Carolina (UNC), East Carolina University (hereafter, ECU or the institution) complies with UNC Policy 400_1_6 for determining credit hours awarded for courses and programs:


All UNC campuses must ensure that every course offered for academic credit adheres to the standard of a minimum of 750 scheduled minutes of instructional time or the equivalent per credit hour. The time may include required examination periods, but may not include study days. 


ECU’s specific regulation, Definition of a Semester Credit Hour, is contained in the institution’s policy manual to inform students and faculty of how credit hours are defined.  Procedures and practices at both the campus and UNC-General Administration levels assure that determination of credit hours conforms to commonly accepted practice in higher education and to Commission policy.  These procedures and practices are described in detail below.


On-campus Review


New Program Approval Process.  New degree and certificate programs are reviewed by and must be approved by the originating department or program faculty, the relevant school or college curriculum committee, the University Curriculum Committee (undergraduate) or the Graduate Curriculum Committee (graduate) and the Graduate Council. 


ECU’s Curriculum Committee and Graduate Curriculum Committee, the two university-wide curriculum committees, carefully examine the number of semester hours proposed and required student content, assignments, and evaluation methods when reviewing new course proposals and new degree proposals. Committee members examine new course proposals using a 1-3 scenario.  That is 1-hour of class time will require 3 hours outside of class preparation time; therefore, a 3-hour class will require approximately 9 hours of student preparation. On occasion, departmental faculty have been asked by the committees to revise and resubmit course proposals if the rationale for course credit is unclear. The Graduate Curriculum Committee Revised Agenda and Revised Graduate Curriculum Committee Minutes of Jan 26, 2010  contain two revised geology course proposals (GEOL 7007, GEOL 7008), which provide examples (highlighted) of justifying course credit.  The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) minutes contain references to Readings in Human Ecology (CHE) 3000 and Religious Studies (RELI) 2500, which were tabled or withdrawn following issues regarding variable credits.  Both courses were reviewed as part of the 03/26/09 UCC meeting; items V and VI note the tabled or withdrawn proposals.


All new degree and certificate proposals subsequently must be reviewed and approved by the ECU Faculty Senate’s Educational Policies and Planning Committee (EPPC) and later by the Faculty Senate.  Review by the ECU Academic Council and approval by the chancellor complete the campus process.  Final approval for academic degrees and curriculum is granted only by the UNC Board of Governors.  As part of the UNC Academic Program Development Procedures, departmental faculty at a constituent institution such as ECU must provide comparative information about similar programs in the discipline at other institutions, which include program length, curriculum content, and credit hours awarded.



Unit Academic Program Review. Formal unit academic program review has been a requirement at East Carolina University since November 2008 (Faculty Senate resolution #08-51). The primary goal of unit academic program review is to improve both undergraduate and graduate education at East Carolina University.  Unit academic program reviews, which are conducted on a seven-year cycle, offer a way of achieving that goal by providing guidance to improve individual programs in numerous categories, including an in-depth review of program curricula.

All unit programs are subject to the review process, although it is recognized that some programs and/or academic units at East Carolina University hold accreditation reviews that include a review of both undergraduate and graduate programs. In these instances, the accreditation self-study substitutes for the required self-study of the Unit Academic Program Review. 

Other Determinants of Program Length. 

Unit academic program review, accreditation standards, and state licensure examinations are important gauges of a program because they demonstrate the performance of the program’s students and graduates.  These assessment and evaluation methods provide information that faculty use to determine the effectiveness and the efficiency of their curricula and to make changes to program and course length to ensure that students achieve mastery of the course content.


Accreditation. A majority of the institution’s professional academic programs are accredited by national or international professional organizations. The current List of Accredited Programs is attached. The periodic self-study for accreditation requires that faculty members compare their existing programs with standards established for the discipline. Those reports require that the programs demonstrate appropriate program curriculum and length. Several examples of completed accreditation processes (Social Work, Business, Engineering, Nursing, Construction Management [undergraduate], Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant) can be found on the Academic Program Development SharePoint Site.


State licensure requirements for some professions (nursing, education, social work, engineering, business, marriage and family therapy, restorative therapies, etc.) have established curriculum mandates, which provide both content and length guidelines in the respective degree areas. 


Finally, many of ECU’s schools and departments utilize community advisory boards (alumni, employers, etc.) to ensure relevance of programs’ curriculum content and curriculum length.  Often these groups review courses and make recommendations about required instruction and time/credit for courses. An example of such a recommendation is evident in the yellow shaded areas of the Business Advisory Council (BAC) Summary of its March 25, 2011 meeting.



University of North Carolina – General Administration (UNC-GA) Review


As further evidence of ECU’s “procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programs that conform to commonly accepted practice in higher education and to Commission policy,”  final levels of new program review are conducted by the UNC General Administration (UNC Policy Manual 400.1.1[R]). 

In conclusion, East Carolina University has policies and procedures for determining credit hours awarded for courses and programs, and these policies and procedures conform to commonly accepted practice in higher education and comply with the University of North Carolina system and Commission policies for determining credit hours for courses and programs. 



Reference Title


3/26/09 UCC Meeting

UCC Minutes 3-29-09

Academic Program Development SharePoint Site

External Accreditation Review

Business Advisory Council (BAC) Summary

BAC SUMMARY March 25th 2011

Definition of a Semester Credit Hour

Definition of a Semester Credit Hour

Discipline-Specific Review Panel

Disciplinary Panel

GEOL 7007


GEOL 7008


Graduate Curriculum Committee Revised Agenda

4.9 01-26-10-GCC-agenda

List of Accredited Programs

Accreditation Cycle 7-24-12

MS Biomedical Sciences

4.9 ECU MS Biomededical Sciences Discipline Panel

PhD Economics

4.9 ECU PhD Economics PLAN (2)

Request to Establish MS in HI at UNC-Charlotte

UNCGA Rec. for UNC-C (MS in HI)

Request to Establish MS in COP at UNC-Wilmington

UNCGA Rec. for UNCW (MS in COP)

Revised Graduate Curriculum Committee Minutes of Jan 26, 2010

01-26-10 - GCC Meeting Minutes - revised

UNC Academic Program Development Procedures


UNC-GA Summary

4.9 ECU PhD Economics PLAN (2)

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.1[R]

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.1[R]

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6

UNC Policy 400_1_6

Unit Academic Program Review

Procedures for UNITACAPROGRAM-REVIEW-6-10-3