Course Work Outside Class

At Loyola Marymount University, one credit hour is defined as a minimum of 3 hours of work by an average student per week for a 15‐week semester (i.e., 45 hours for a full semester), supervised by an instructor, represented in intended learning outcomes, and verified by evidence of student achievement - for details, see the Credit Hour Policy. For a 3-credit class this corresponds to at least 135 hours total per class per semester, and for a 4-credit class to at least 180 hours. Typically, 3-hour classes meet 150 minutes in class and 4-hour classes meet 180 minutes in class; therefore, on average per week, a 3-credit class generally corresponds to at least 6 hours of work outside of class and 4-credit classes correspond to at least 9 hours of work outside of class (there are classes that deviate from these patterns with more or less class time, irregular meeting times, online components, etc.). LMU's expectations for a typical full-time student are therefore that the student spend a total of at least 30-36 hours per week on course work outside of class.

According to the CIRP American Freshman Survey 2014 (HERI, UCLA), students in 4-year Catholic colleges report spending the following amount of time on studying and homework for all classes during their last year in high school:


% Students 1.4 7.0 18.3 28.2 21.6 12.3 6.5 4.7
Cumulative % Students 1.4 8.4 26.7 54.9 76.5 88.8 95.3 100.0

More than half the freshmen have spent less than 6 hours on course work outside of class in high school; almost all of them spent fewer than 20 hours on work outside of class. US college students (freshmen and seniors) self report that they spend on average approximately 14-15 hours preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework or lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing and other academic activities), according to 2014 NSSE data. Corresponding LMU data can be obtained from the Office of Assessment.

Helping incoming freshmen adapt their expectations and adjust their study habits to LMU standards and and consistently designing courses that satisfy LMU workload and rigor expectations for students at all levels are key aspects of teaching. This challenges faculty

  • to establish and implement clear expectations,
  • to design meaningful and deep learning experiences outside of class,
  • to carefully integrate work outside of class into the ongoing course,
  • to rely on constructive and manageable means of assessment of and feedback to the work outside class, and
  • to find ways to convince students of the benefits of high and challenging workloads.