Academic Definitions


With permission of the advisor and course instructor, a student from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor may enroll in a College of Engineering course as a visitor, also referred informally as auditing a course. The student is expected to attend classes regularly but is not required to complete any course requirements, (e.g., homework sets, laboratory assignments, tests, and the final examination.) In such a case, the course will be entered on the permanent record with a “VI” instead of a letter grade. If the student does not attend the class regularly, the faculty has the option to enter a grade of “NR” for no report. The same fee will be charged whether the student enrolls for credit or as a visitor. A course elected as “VI” does not count toward a student’s full time status.

Please note that all requests to audit a course should be completed via the Add/Drop paper form. The deadline is the third week for full term courses, second week for half-term courses, as well as first and second seven week courses. Note that advisors typically will not approve changes in Visit elections after the third week (second week in Spring and Summer half terms). In such cases, withdrawing or changing to an election of Pass/Fail is generally more appropriate. After the deadlines, students must petition for an Exception to College Rules to change Visit status. Petitions are available online. Required courses may not be elected as a Visit.


A term (semester) extends over approximately four months, including examinations. The University’s year-round calendar, by months, is approximately as follows:

Term Months
Fall Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
Winter Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr.
Spring/Summer May, June, July, Aug.

The Spring-Summer term may be scheduled as two half terms, approximately as follows:

Term Months
Spring May, June
Summer July, Aug.

Course Offerings

The appropriate Bulletin and the Schedule of Classes prepared for each term will serve the student as a guide in planning each term’s schedule. The College of Engineering reserves the right to withdraw the offering of any elective course not chosen by at least eight students.

Credit Hour

A credit hour (semester hour) generally represents one hour of recitation or lecture per week for a term, or two for a half term; preparation for each credit hour normally requires a minimum of three hours of study per week. Generally, one period of laboratory work is considered to be equal to one hour of credit.

CoE Policy for the Assignment of Credit Hours

Course credit is based on contact hours (time spent by students engaged with the course instructor) for all Engineering courses. This means one contact hour per credit hour in a week for Lectures, Discussions, and Recitations.

For each credit earned per full academic term, students are expected to receive at least one contact hour of instruction and perform at least two to three hours of work outside of class each week.

Independent Study, Special Topics, Experiential and Seminar courses have the same total engagement requirements (contact hours plus hours of additional work) as listed above with the understanding that engagement may not be scheduled on a weekly basis as determined at the department level.

Laboratory sections are expected to meet for at least two hours for each credit earned.

Hybrid and Online courses require an equivalent amount of instruction and student work as required by in-person courses.

Work Load

The number of credit hours a student is able to carry in any one term depends upon a number of factors, including abilities, health, and the amount of time devoted to extracurricular activities or to outside work. Twelve credit hours are considered a minimum full-time academic schedule for a full term (six for half term). Reduced program fees apply to 11 credit hours or fewer for undergraduate students.

Unless approved by the program advisor (for undeclared students, the Director of the Engineering Advising Center), the student may not elect courses (or change elections) for which the total number of hours for a term is fewer than 12 or more than 18, and for a half term, fewer than six or more than nine. A student should have a 3.0 average or more for the previous term to be permitted to carry a term load of more than 18 hours.

Attention is called to the section on “Time Requirements” for a statement on estimating the time needed for a bachelor’s degree.

Attendance and Absences

The College expects students to attend courses regularly and arrive on time.  Unexcused absences can negatively affect the final course grade.

All students should account for their absences to their instructors. A student who has been absent from studies for more than one week because of illness or other emergency should consult the program advisor to determine the advisability of reducing course loads.


Examinations may be given at any time, with or without notice, on any part of the work. An examination at the end of the term is an essential part of the work of the course. The instructor is required to observe the official final examination schedule established by the University.

Any student absent from an examination should report to the instructor as soon thereafter as possible. If a student presents a valid excuse for being absent, a make-up examination may be arranged by the instructor for another time.