Original Issuance Date: May 9, 1975 

Last Revision Date: August 18, 2021 

1. Policy Purpose 

This policy defines the academic year and the 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. 

I. The period of appointment for faculty; 

a. An annual faculty appointment extends for a period of twelve months and normally begins on July 1.   

b. 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.  

II. 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. 

7. Related Documents 

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

8. Policy History 

Revision 6: August 18, 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 

August 2026