Class/Classroom Scheduling and Contact Hours Policy

I. General Policy Statement

The Class/Classroom Scheduling and Contact Hours Policy helps to ensure that Syracuse University classes have the space and time for effective instruction. The policy describes the Registrar Office’s role in scheduling all classes and in reserving instructional spaces for classes with an on-campus mode of instruction. The policy also describes the roles of the Registrar’s Office, Provost’s Office, academic departments, and the Senate Committee on Curricula in ensuring that instructors fulfill minimum contact hour requirements.

II.  Reason for Policy/Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure instructional conditions at Syracuse University are conducive to an effective student learning experience and that instructors fulfill instructional contact hour standards. The policy is necessary to ensure compliance with contact- and credit-hour standards issued by the New York State Education Department, and the Credit Hour Policy issued by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

III. Policy

  • Class Scheduling

The Registrar’s Office is responsible for establishing and enforcing the standard class meeting schedule or paradigm for each academic year. Using the published Academic Calendar, and in consultation with the Provost Office, the Registrar’s Office shall establish the standard class meeting schedule paradigm for each academic year to make effective use of instructional days and classroom space, to meet the needs of students and faculty, and to support the academic mission and vision of Syracuse University. The standard class meeting schedule or paradigm may be revised at the discretion of the University.

All fall and spring semester Syracuse University classes, undergraduate and graduate, must adhere to the standard schedule or paradigm, with the exception of the following:

      1. College of Law classes are not subject to these scheduling requirements.
      2. Classes offered in an online mode of instruction format only are not subject to these scheduling requirements, but must meet minimum contact hour requirements.
      3. Studio classes held in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Architecture have extended time requirements, but must adhere to agreed-upon start times as follows: Department of Art and Design labs run from 8:00 – 12:30 PM,1:30 –6:00 PM and 2:15-6:15pm. ARC studios are 1:00 – 5:00 pm.
      4. Classes that meet during the summer terms are not required to adhere to these scheduling requirements. However, it is expected that the scheduling of summer classes will support the University’s overall scheduling goals and objectives and is subject to adjustment by the Registrar’s Office.
      5. University College may adjust the standard class meeting schedule or paradigm for continuing education classes that begin in the late afternoon or evening, according to day and time criteria set by the Registrar’s Office.
      6. Requests for exceptions to the class meeting scheduling paradigm are subject to the approval of the chair and dean of the college in which the department resides, and the Registrar’s Office. Requests must justify the proposed exceptions with respect to improved student learning outcomes.
  • Classroom Allocation

The Registrar’s Office is responsible for the equitable allocation of instructional space on the University’s main campus for classes, examinations, and academic events. The main campus includes all instructional facilities owned or leased by the University within the City of Syracuse and its suburbs.

Each instructional space on campus is designated as “registrar,” “captive,” or “mixed-use.” The Registrar’s Office assigns all classes held in registrar classrooms, while the use of captive space is at the discretion of the Dean or Department Chair of the assigned department.   Mixed-use is a combination of both captive and registrar space that have shared academic scheduling ownership with the Registrar’s Office during pre-designated time periods throughout the teaching week.

The class-scheduling paradigm is required to be adhered to by classes offered in all instructional space.

A change to the day or time offering of a class will be prohibited after enrollment has occurred.

  • Contact Hours

Each class offered is expected to meet the minimum New York State Education Department (“NYSED”) course contact hour requirements, and Syracuse University guidelines according to the number of credits awarded. The Registrar’s Office assigns time and space to support achieving these requirements, but it is ultimately the responsibility of instructors and their departments to ensure that students obtain at least the required contact hours.

Required contact hours includes:

  • The NYSED recommends at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each, for a total of 750 contact minutes) of instruction, including lectures, recitations, discussions, labs, and final examinations, and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments for each credit hour. The term “credit hour” refers to the NYSED definition, defined below in Section V.DB.
  • The University Senate Committee on Curricula has further clarified that one credit hour equates to 50 minutes of classroom time for a 15-week semester including a final examination. The Senate Committee on Curricula recommends that faculty assign to students at least 100 minutes of work outside of class time per week for each credit hour. For lab or studio time, the Senate Committee on Curricula indicates that one credit equates to 150 minutes of time per week over a 15-week semester. The following table provides additional information on minimum contact hours for various typical class configurations

NYSED Requirements

Type of ClassNYSEDWeeksTotal Minutes
3 sessions once a week (3 – 50 min sessions)150 152250
2 sessions 75 Min NYSED = 150 150152250
Discussion/Recitation (1 – credit) 5015750
1 day – 3 credit course 2hrs 35 min (NYSED) 150152250
4 credit hour course 200153000
The totals noted above do not include reading days but do include final exam periods.
3 credit hour class 2250 minutes
4 credit hour class 3000 minutes
1 credit hour (50 min) x 15 750 minutes
2 credit hours (100 min)) x 15 1500 minutes
3 credit hours (150 min) x 15 2250 minutes
4 credit hours (200 min) 3000 minutes

Syracuse University Requirements

Types of ClassSUWeeksTotal Minutes
3 Sessions once a week (3-55 min sessions) 165152475
2 Sessions 80 min 160152400
Discussion Session usually w/another class
1 day – 3 credit course 2 hrs 45 min165152475
4 Credit Hour 210153150

To ensure sufficient contact hours, course designers and school/college curriculum committees should adhere to the foregoing contact hours during the course design and revision process. The Senate Committee on Curricula has discretion to review and reject course proposals that do not meet the above contact hour requirements.

Each school and college should establish a policy for addressing situations where a course may not meet minimum contact time standards due to instructor absence or other circumstances affecting contact hours. Absent a school/college policy, Deans and Department Chairs have an obligation to inform the Provost Office of such circumstances in a timely manner.

IV.   To Whom Does This Policy Apply

Select all that apply:

☐ Students  ☒ Faculty    ☒ Staff     ☐ Visitors/General Public     ☐ Other___________________

V.              Appendices (as applicable)

A.   Procedures

B.   Definitions

Registrar Classrooms: Space allocated by the University to the Registrar’s Office for academic instructional purposes

Captive Spaces: Also known as departmental spaces used solely by one college, school, or department. While this may pertain to any type of space [including classrooms] laboratories and other discipline-specific spaces are the most common examples.

Mixed-Used Classrooms: Departmentally owned classrooms that have shared academic scheduling ownership with the Registrar’s Office during pre-designated time periods throughout the teaching week.

C.   Forms

Complaints about classroom conditions, including concerns related to accessibility and classroom technology, should be submitted to Learning Environments at Complaints about classroom concerns related to maintenance and repairs should be submitted to Physical Plant at

D.   Other Related Policies and Documents

NYSED – Credit Hour Definition

All courses and degree programs at the University must comply with the New York State

Commissioner of Education Regulations, including the Commissioner’s definition of “semester hour,” as follows:

(o) Semester hour means a credit, point, or other unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments, except as otherwise provided pursuant to section 52.2(c)(4) of this Subchapter. This basic measure shall be adjusted proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study.

Source: NYSED Commissioner of Regulations,

Middle States Accreditation

Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE’s “credit hour policy” requires institutions to assign credit hours in ways that are consistent with the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of “credit hour.”

Source: MSCHE Credit Hour Policy (2012),

  • Frequently Asked Questions


Date: September 2017