The University operates on a two-semester academic calendar; each semester is 16 weeks long. Additionally, two 8 week mini-semesters run concurrently within the traditional semester, offering students the opportunity to study courses in a more focused way. The schedule of offered courses is available during the prior semester. Registration begins approximately half-way through the prior semester and continues through the Add/Drop period. The schedule of summer courses is available mid-March. A complete listing may be accessed at the website mercyhurst.edu/summer. Preregistration for summer courses is conducted after the schedule is published and continues through the Spring Semester. At Mercyhurst, the Fall Semester typically begins about the third week in August and runs until the middle of December. The Spring Semester typically starts at the end of January and continues until mid-May with a spring break mid-way. Summer sessions run from late May through mid-August.
Formula for Calculating Credit Hours
The Pennsylvania Department of Education regulates the definition of “1 credit” and the number of hours that different courses must meet to earn a credit. The definitions are as follows:
Traditional Classroom Courses
One college semester credit in a traditional classroom course is defined as 14 hours of classroom instruction. A three-credit semester-based course would need to meet for 42 hours of rigorous college classroom instruction over the semester. The academic requirements for hours of classroom instruction cannot be calculated to include exams (i.e., final exams). This formula includes the expectation that students will invest 2 hours of preparation time outside of the classroom for every 1 credit of course content. For the student who enrolls in 15 credit hours per semester, this would mean an additional 30 hours of preparation beyond the class time. Semester courses at Mercyhurst meeting three days per week are held for 50 minutes and those classes meeting twice per week are held for 75 minutes.
One college laboratory semester credit is defined as 1 hour per week of lecture plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled laboratory work. This formula includes the expectation that students will invest 2 hours of preparation time for each 1 credit of course content. Lab courses at Mercyhurst that are independent of a lecture typically meet one day per week and are held for 2 hours and 50 minutes.
(Clinical rounds, visual/performing art studios, student teaching, field work, etc.) One college practice course credit is defined as 3-4 hours per week of practice, or a total of 45-60 hours per semester. This means that a 3-credit hour practice course must represent between 135-180 total hours of academic work per semester. Practice courses at Mercyhurst are specified by departments and are certified to ensure that students are meeting the correct number of hours for their respective credits.
Online and Blended Courses
The university uses Blackboard as its electronic delivery and learning platform. Blackboard is a web-based system which provides a user-friendly interface with simple point-and-click access to course content, collaborative workspaces and online resource centers. Online courses may be either totally available online, or a blend of classroom and online learning. Blended courses usually hold a number of the meetings in the classroom and additional meetings or assignments organized online. Blended courses are generally identified by their course number and will have an L in their course code. Online courses will be identified with the location code of W. Please note, students who qualify for PHEAA grants should check eligibility rules before scheduling courses coded as W.
Clock Hour Programs
Mercyhurst offers a limited number of programs that run on clock-hours instead of credit-hours. For these programs, Mercyhurst uses the clock-to-credit conversions outlined in the Federal Register (CFR 668.6 (k) and (l).). For our purposes, this defines a minimum of 37.5 clock hours to a credit hour. The Office of the Registrar and the Office for Institutional Effectiveness monitor semester offerings for compliance. Similarly, semester course schedule creation is a Provost Office function with input from academic departments.