How We Compute Course Credits At Blue Marble University

Although Blue Marble University is based in the Commonwealth of Dominica, we offer a US style education to the international market. While many of our students are from different countries with different academic standards and procedures, we feel that conforming to the U.S. system of credits may be best for most of our students. 

Therefore, although we are not required to do so, we use as our starting point the definition of “credits” as defined by the United States Code of Federal Regulations excerpted here:

Federal definitions and regulations regarding the assignment of credit hours appear as follows under Section 600.2 and 600.24(f) of the Higher Education Opportunity Act: 

Clock hour: A period of time consisting of –

(1) A 50- to 60-minute class, lecture or recitation in a 60-minute period;

(2) A 50- to 60-minute faculty-supervised laboratory, shop training, or internship in a 60-minute period; or

(3) Sixty minutes of preparation in a correspondence course

Credit hour: Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), a credit hour is 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— 

1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or 

2. 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.”

Although many times used interchangeably, credits and credit hours are slightly different in that it is the course “credits” that appear on a transcript, while “credit hours” refers to the amount of time students are expected to study the course over a 15 week period. So, for our typical 3 credit course, a student would be expected to spend 45 hours total time studying the course.

In using the “clock hour” approach, fifteen clock hours of lectures/academic study equals 1 semester credit (for a typical 15 week semester).

Because there is no break in our academic calendar and courses proceed continuously all year long with no holidays, it should be stressed that each of our “trimester” terms encompasses 17 weeks of study, even though nearly all US university programs on a semester schedule are 15 weeks/semester. Consequently, our tri-part academic year actually comprises the equivalent of 3 ordinary 15-week semester periods, and as noted in the above regulation, one of our 3 credit courses is the equivalent of a 3 credit course in a typical “semester” based program.

It is important to understand that our trimester program comprising 3 terms of 17  weeks each is not comparable to other so called “trimester” programs which are typically 10 weeks per term. Rather, Blue Marble University operates on the equivalent of 3 SEMESTERS per year.

By way of example, the following colleges and universities are considered as operating on a trimester schedule, but their terms are typically only 10 weeks in length, not the 17 weeks for all terms at Blue Marble University: 

Dartmouth College operates on 4 terms/year, but only 10 weeks per term, students take 3 terms per year.

Carlton College operates on 3 terms/year, referred to as trimesters, but only 10 weeks per term.

Union College operates on 3 terms/year, referred to as trimesters, but only 10 weeks per term. 

Lawrence University operates on 3 terms/year, referred to as trimesters, but only 10 weeks per term.

All of the Blue Marble University doctoral programs comprise in excess of the 60 credit minimum requirement for a typical semester based program, because in actuality, our 70-credit programs are 70 Semester credits, when tested against the regulatory requirement stated above, which requires 15 weeks of study per course credit. Our terms are 17 weeks in length.

Even when using other conversion tables, such as that issued by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), our 70 “trimester” credits is equal to the 60 semester credits minimum for a doctoral degree.
[See conversion tables published at: https://www.naia.org/legislative/2015-16/releases/20150708sge9y ] Accessed June 29,2021.

The bottom line is this: Based on the US Federal Regulations for how to calculate credits noted above, because each of our “trimesters” comprises 17 weeks in length, our credits per course are equal to credits per course awarded in a typical “semester” term of 15 weeks. And therefore each of our doctoral degree programs comprises more than the minimum course work for a doctoral degree awarded by a regionally accredited U.S. college or university. 

Blue Marble University
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