Academic Credit Definitions

Spring 2012 – Warren Wilson College

Undergraduate Program

The credit hour is the basic unit of measure of college credit. Most courses at Warren Wilson College are offered for four hours of credit over the course of a 16-week semester. Courses may, however, meet for 2- or 4-credits over an 8-week term and still others may meet for 1- to 2-credits for an 8-week term or 16-week semester.  Students are expected to allot substantial time outside the instruction periods for successful completion of course expectations. Courses carry differing credit hours and schedules depending on the type of instruction offered and the nature of academic work required.  Explanations for discrepancies and variation from the formulae below are approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs as pedagogically sound, and are kept on file in the Office of Academic Affairs.  Practice, performance and homework outside of instruction time do not count as instructional contact hours.  Instruction is classified into one of the following categories:

Lecture / Seminar / Discussion

This type of instruction typically involves interaction between an instructor or instructors and a group of students in a classroom environment, including formal lecture, seminar and discussions. One credit hour of this type of instruction is equivalent to 13.33 contact hours. A typical example at Warren Wilson College is a 4-credit course that meets for 80-minute sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and alternate Fridays for a 16-week semester.

Laboratory Instruction

This type of instruction typically involves student interaction with equipment or processes related to the discipline of instruction under the supervision of an instructor in the laboratory or field setting.  For this type of instruction, one credit hour is equivalent to a minimum of 14.22 contact hours up to a maximum of 24 contact hours.  A typical example at Warren Wilson College is a 4-credit, 16-week semester course that includes a lecture/seminar/discussion component that meets for 80-minutes twice a week and a laboratory component consisting of two additional 80-minute sessions per week.


The teaching of studio disciplines includes a wide variety of hands-on experience involving both 2-D and 3-D media and their applications. For this type of instruction, one credit hour is equivalent to 22 contact hours. A typical example at Warren Wilson College is a 4-credit studio art course that meets for a 170-minute session two days per week for a 16-week semester.

Ensemble Instruction

Musical and dance ensembles consist of the united performance of an entire group of singers, musicians, dancers, etc. For this type of instruction, one credit hour is equivalent to 42.67 contact hours. Ensemble instruction at Warren Wilson College typically occurs for two 80-minute sessions per week for a 16-week semester.

Group Applied Instruction

Group applied instruction includes those courses in which students in a group setting are studying an applied skill such as learning to play tennis or learning a musical instrument. For this type of instruction, one credit is equivalent to 21.33 contact hours.


In the case of off-campus internships, the current standing policy is one credit hour is equivalent to 40 hours of internship. Students may register for 1-16 internship credits in a semester.

Guided Study

Students studying individually with instructors meet for a variety of purposes: including independent study courses, Great Books courses, certain capstone research, or musical instrument instruction. These individual guided studies vary in contact hours per credit, and are typically decided upon by the instructor and student and are approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs on a case-by-case basis. Records of contact hours for guided study are kept on file in the Registrar’s Office.

Study Abroad

Students enrolled in Warren Wilson College sponsored study abroad courses meet with instructors weekly for a minimum of 13.33 contact hours per credit prior to travel. It is important to note that most courses typically include a minimum of 4 contact hours per day as well during the travel period, which is a minimum of 14 days and often longer.

In addition to the minimum regular class meetings, study abroad courses typically incorporate some additional field trips, service projects, or cultural activities related to the course topic.

Graduate Program

The Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers is a low-residency program based on mentoring which offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, following the completion of a minimum of four successful semesters of study and five residency sessions. Adhering to the standards of the studio/research model, as defined by the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Guidelines for Creative Writing Programs and Teachers of Creative Writing, a successful semester entails full participation in the residency, the completion of five to six exchanges of substantial creative and critical writing (including 12-15 critical annotations) which provide ample evidence of the dedication of at least 25 hours a week to program study, and the reading of 15-20 books. The semester achievement is documented in residency and semester narrative evaluations, the exchange log and bibliography, and a work sample consisting of a selection of creative work and all critical annotations. Semester credit is granted only in 15-hour units.