Jul 18, 2024  
Catalog/Handbook 2023-2024 
Catalog/Handbook 2023-2024

Course Delivery Modes/Estimating the Time Investment of a Schedule/Load Allowed

Polk State’s courses are delivered through various modes to maximize options and flexibility.

  • The traditional face-to-face classroom setting is offered at all campuses and centers.
  • A pure Internet option (i.e., online, with no in-person meetings) has no face-to-face component. Instruction is delivered with the same quality as traditional education. The student uses an Internet-connected computer and the College’s online learning management system, Canvas. Some pure Internet classes may require other resources and proctored examinations. This may require visiting a testing center and additional costs. The class schedule identifies the delivery method. Each student is advised to log in to the Canvas class site on the first day and read the syllabus carefully to determine resource usage, proctoring and testing requirements. Information regarding online opportunities is available at Online@PolkState.
  • A live-online option has a required face-to-face online class component.  The student is required to attend class online during scheduled times and days set by the professor.  Attendance online via the Internet is required for these classes.
  • A hybrid class includes a blend of Internet and face-to-face course delivery. In a hybrid course, the student attends class at a location for some of the allotted class time, and then participates in the course using the Internet as well.

Note: A student must meet the minimum technology requirements to participate in any Internet-based or hybrid course. Polk State College’s Distance Learning website explains these requirements and provides further details, including a description of the learning management system interface.

Estimating Time Investment from a Schedule’s Meeting Hours and Credit Load

It is important for a student to consider the potential time investment of a given schedule in comparison with his or her other duties and obligations. A student can estimate the approximate time investment for a given course by applying the unit-based system of measurement used by colleges and universities. Per the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and in accordance with the directives of the Department of Education, for every approximately one course-meeting hour spent in a 15- to 16- week term, approximately two hours outside of class are expected in preparatory and study activities. For example, a rough calculation of the investment for a three-credit class that meets weekly for approximately three hours during a 15- to 16-week period equates to nine total hours per week (i.e., three hours of meeting, and six hours for readings, assignments, and studying). Alternatively, a four-credit lab class with 4.5 hours of meeting time would require approximately 13.5 hours of total weekly investment. The student should check the course meeting times and credit values to estimate the investment for each schedule made. An online or hybrid section of a course requires the same time investment as a traditional section, but there is flexibility in the setting. Depending on the student’s background and fluency with a given course’s subject matter, the actual time investment may vary.

Generally, if a student enrolls in a full-time schedule of 15 credits composed of five three-credit courses that each meet for three hours, the approximate total weekly time investment for the semester would be approximately 45 hours (i.e., similar to a full-time employment). For comparison, during a 12-week session, a similar workload would be 11 to 12 credits. In an eight-week Fastrack session, seven to eight credits would be roughly equivalent. In a six-week summer session, a similar workload would be five to six credits

Maximum and Minimum Course Load Limits

During Terms 1, 2, and 3 (i.e., fall, spring, and summer), the minimum course load per term for full-time students is 12 semester hours, such that enrollment in fewer than 12 credits is considered a part-time load. To complete a degree according to the traditional schedule (i.e., two years for an associate degree and four years for a baccalaureate degree) a student must average 15 semester hours during Term 1 or Term 2. For example, if a student takes 12 credits in Term 1, and 12 credits in Term 2, he or she should enroll in six credits during the summer term (Term 3) (i.e., totaling 30 credits during the Academic Year) to maintain timely progress toward completion.

The maximum course load for a student during the fall (Term 1) and spring (Term 2) is 20 semester hours, and the maximum course load is 15 semester hours for the summer (Term 3); however, the maximum number of credit hours for a given term cannot be taken in one accelerated session (e.g., all 20 hours in a Fastrack session). A student who achieves a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and who has completed at least 15 semester credits may exceed the credit maximum with the approval of the Campus Dean of Student Services. An individual wishing to appeal this regulation is required to do so prior to the first regular registration day for classes in the semester. 

Certain situations may further limit the maximum course load for a student, such as dual-enrollment status or issues related to Standards of Academic Progress.

A student who plans to work while attending school (or who has caretaking obligations) is encouraged to plan a lighter schedule that provides for these factors. To maximize scheduling options, the student should register for classes early in the registration period.