3050 Credit Hours and Credit Load

Original Date: 9/1/1995 * Last Revision Effective: 02/16/2022
Policy Contact: Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs


The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has established rules and provided guidance for how the state’s community and technical colleges assign credit hours to the courses they offer. Bellevue College uses these rules to determine the number of credit hours assigned to each course, and includes both an in-class and out-of-class component. In considering the time and effort needed to earn a credit hour, the college places limits on the credit load students may take each quarter. Credit loads are determined based on the number of credits for which students are registered.

Assigned Credit Hours Based on Type of Instruction

The college uses three types of instruction to assign credit hours to courses:

  • Theory – includes lecture/discussion: One credit is generated by one weekly contact hour of instruction or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time. Generally requires out-of-class student effort, which is typically two hours for each in-class hour.
  • Guided Practice – includes laboratory/applied learning: One credit is generated by two weekly contact hours of instruction or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time. Generally requires out-of-class student effort, which is typically one hour for every two in-class hours.
  • Field-based Experience – includes working with or under the direction of professional practitioners; internships; and service learning activities: One credit is generated by a minimum of three weekly contact hours of supervised learning experience. Programs may determine that additional hours are needed to meet student learning needs.

Exceptions are noted in the quarterly class schedule.

Credit Load

Students are considered full-time or part-time based on their credit load:

  • Full-time credit load: full-time students register for 12 or more credits.
  • Part-time credit load: part-time students register for fewer than 12 credits. Some programs further define part-time students by the following criteria:
    • Three-quarter-time students register for 9 – 11 credits
    • Half-time students register for 6 – 8 credits
    • Less-than-half-time students register for fewer than six credits
  • Excess credit load: excess credit students register for more than 21 credits per quarter.
    • Students may register for up to 21 credits per quarter and may appeal to register for one additional class beyond 21 credits.
    • Excess credit students may not register for more than 27 credits.


Course Credit Hours: A credit hour is the unit by which the college measures its coursework and is represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.

Course Credit Load: Course credit load is defined as the number of credits students register for each quarter.

Relevant Laws and Resources

SBCTC Policy Manual 5.40.10 Class effort: Credit values and credit equivalents

2250P2 Credit limitations (Procedures)

Revision History

Original 9/1/1995
Revisions 3/22/2005; 5/21/2009; 9/11/2012; 4/6/2015; 02/16/2022

Approved By

Board of Trustees

Last Updated February 21, 2022