Original Issuance Date: May 9, 1975

Last Revision Date: November 9, 2022

1.     Policy Purpose

This policy defines the academic year and the University of Wisconsin (UW) System’s definition of the credit hour to award credit. As a result of the elimination of Regent Policy Document 4-13, Academic Calendar Policy (retired by Resolution 11562 on December 10, 2020), this system level policy will guide the setting of academic calendars for UW institutions.

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs

3. Scope

This policy applies to each UW institution and the respective academic calendars.

4. Background

The UW System Academic Year shall cover the nine-month instructional period commencing in early September and ending in mid-May, consistent with applicable state law and federal law. Chancellors, in consultation with the faculty, Registrar, and Director of Financial Aid at each institution shall set the institutional academic calendar under these guidelines.

5. Definitions

Credit Hour: The current federal definition of a credit hour is (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.” (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 34, Part 600.2)

6. Policy Statement

The Chancellor of each UW institution, in consultation with the faculty, the Registrar, and Director of Financial Aid, should determine the primary divisions of the academic year calendar.  The calendar may be organized in two semesters, three quarters, or modules of semesters or quarters and shorter terms (mini-sessions, inter-sessions, etc.) within the academic year period.  The contractual academic year shall consist of a full nine months (39 weeks) and shall include not fewer than 34 weeks of organized services for students including classroom instruction, registration, advising, and examining.

A.     The period of appointment for faculty

  1. An annual faculty appointment extends for a period of twelve months and normally begins on July 1.
  2. An academic year appointment extends for the nine-month academic year specified in the calendar of the institution and ordinarily begins one or two weeks before the first day of scheduled campus registration for the fall term and ends one week after the last day of instruction or examination.

B.      Awarding of credit

The institution’s assignment and award of credit hours must conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 34, Part 600.2. Those institutions seeking, or participating in, Title IV federal financial aid, must demonstrate that they have policies determining the credit hours awarded to courses and programs in keeping with commonly-accepted practices in higher education and with any federal definition of the credit hour as may appear in federal regulations. Institutions must also have procedures that result in an appropriate awarding of institutional credit in conformity with the policies established by the institution. Faculty governance at each institution will determine the credit hour equivalencies for in-person and online programs or program components.

C. Religious Holidays

Institutions should consult with available religious calendar resources and minimize, whenever reasonably practicable, scheduling conflicts with major religious holidays. To assist the institutions, UW System Administration will provide multiyear information regarding religious observances so each campus community can continually be aware of major religious holiday observances at least five (5) years in the future. Institutions should consult such resources in all future campus scheduling.

Each institution should make resource materials available to students (as contemplated by Chapter UWS 22, Wisconsin Administrative Code) and employees informing them of applicable policies and procedures to address their individual accommodation needs for religious observances. Each institution should designate an administrator or adopt a policy or policies designating other individuals responsible for helping students and employees with scheduling accommodations for religious observances.

7. Related Documents

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 34, Part 600.2

Wis. Stat. § 36.43

Wis. Admin. Code UWS Ch. 22

8. Policy History

Revision 7: November 9, 2022

Revision 6: August 13, 2021

Revision 5: February 11, 2000

Revision 4: May 11, 1984

Revision 3: July 11, 1980

Revision 2: November 29, 1977

Revision 1: December 17, 1976

First Approved (by the Regents): May 09, 1975

9. Scheduled Review

November 2027