Section: News

Future system of credit hours to begin with class of 2028

Kenyon will switch from credit units to credit hours for all future classes, beginning with the incoming class of 2028. Currently, Kenyon measures the credits for a majority of classes in increments of 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75. Under the new system, every future class year will have its current credit units multiplied by eight to convert them into credit hours.

The credit units system is a remnant of Kenyon’s original approach to instruction, where most classes were taught for a full year and counted as one unit. However, most classes now run for only one semester. Those that are still a full year are mostly intensive introductory language courses, which are worth 1.5 credit units per year.

According to Provost Jeffrey Bowman, this change was largely motivated by how uncommon Kenyon’s current system of accreditation is in comparison with other higher education institutions. “The most common way of calculating credits at universities and colleges in the United States is the use of credit hours,” Bowman said in an interview with the Collegian. “The vast majority of institutions use the system that we’re now adopting.” 

The new system of credit hours will facilitate improved coordination of transfer credit and off-campus study applications for students. “Students will have a much better sense ahead of time about how academic credit generally, not specifically a credit hour, but academic credit generally will transfer from different programs, off-campus programs, into their Kenyon transcripts,” Bowman said. 

Kenyon currently uses the Higher Learning Commission, an accrediting agency, to calculate the amount of credit hours per class. Bowman explained that these calculations are dependent on contact hours per week. “That includes the number of hours that you’re sitting in class,” said Bowman. “But also — and this is particularly relevant at a place like Kenyon where there’s a lot of other activities — it also includes all the other things that you do in class.” Outside of normal class hours, many professors require students to attend lectures or speakers hosted by the college, attend office hours or go to TA sessions.

The change will not affect any student currently attending Kenyon, but will overlap with the next three enrolling classes as the credit unit system is gradually phased out with each graduating class. According to Bowman, it also will not affect any requirements for majors, the weighting of different classes or the credits required to graduate. “It’s mostly just a matter of math,” Bowman said. “It’s not as if you’re changing the amount of credit toward the degree you’re getting, you’re just changing the number that you’re using.”

Bowman explained that the switch came with the support of the Registrar’s Office and the Dean of Academic Advising Thomas Hawks, under the umbrella of the administrative academic division. However, Kenyon faculty made the primary decision, in accordance with Kenyon’s tradition of shared governance.

Vice President for Student Affairs Celestino Limas added that the switch to credit hours will allow for increased academic mobility among students at Kenyon. “It was a pretty robust discussion… and then when it was brought to the faculty as a whole, I think we discussed at large, it was a very overwhelming vote in the affirmation to get it done.”

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