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Maintaining Momentum: What to Expect from Your Course Load

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By Loren Germann-McClain
Senior Academic Advisor II, School of STEM

Balancing your course load is vital to academic success. In addition to the time you spend inside the classroom, you’ll need additional time for reading and assignments.

By understanding how many hours a week to dedicate to your studies, you can better plan and manage your course load. Good management will aid you in achieving your academic goals without feeling overwhelmed.

It can be helpful to take one course at a time to assess how your course demands fit in with your personal and professional commitments. As you work towards your educational goals and live a full life, you’ll need to consider the weekly expectations of your instructor, your course load, and your part-time or full-time work schedule.

To better manage your time and set up a schedule that works for you, it is important to know how many hours, on average, you can expect to spend in each course. Our student handbook provides some guidance, or you can also ask your academic advisor for advice.

Expected Course Load at the Undergraduate Level

  • 8-10 hours of work each week for a 16-week course
  • 15-18 hours of work each week (including all reading) for an 8-week course

Expected Course Load at the Master’s Level

  • 10-15 hours of work each week for a 16-week course
  • 18-22 hours of work each week (including all reading) for an 8-week course

Time Management Is Your Best Friend

Staying on top of your coursework requires advanced planning and determination to stick to assignment due dates and scheduled study times. Remember that even though you are not in a physical classroom, you should create room in your daily schedule for your classwork, just as you would schedule any other appointment or meeting.

Understanding how you spend your time in any given day helps you better allocate dedicated time to your school tasks. Here are five tips from Indeed to help you build your time management skills:

  1. Keep a planner.
  2. Set a timer.
  3. Schedule your hours.
  4. Set short-term and long-term goals.
  5. Use your energy wisely.

Did you complete one of your goals? Reward yourself! Jennifer Beyer, an Academic Advisor for the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business, encourages students to “create a schedule that includes fun things in addition to work and school obligations. Scheduling the time for playing video games or hanging out with friends can be a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for busy students who feel as if they do not have time for activities.”

Providing yourself with scheduled breaks to enjoy the things you love will recharge your energy. Those breaks will also give you the extra motivation to complete your coursework.

Related link: Time Management Paves the Way for Academic Success

Advice for Short- and Long-Term Planning

Be mindful of your course load in regards to the grade point average (GPA) expectations at your academic program level. Academic Advising can help you create a new workload approach to support your academic success and help you persist in your program. Don’t forget to utilize the GPA calculator to maintain your awareness of your GPA.

Keep in mind that different funding methods may have different requirements to receive funding. If you need to lighten your course load, let your Academic Advising team know – they are program experts and can help you find the best way to schedule your classes and maintain a balanced workload.

Do you have a specific graduation date in mind? Start with the month and year you would like to graduate, and work backwards from there to see what kind of registration pace would be needed to meet this date. Unlike most universities that only confer degrees twice a year, we confer degrees six times a year (February, April, June, August, October and December) on the first day of these months.

Not every schedule will be the same; you need to figure out what works for you. Also, keep in mind that your schedule and commitments may change over time, which is where flexibility in course scheduling is key!

Reach Out to Academic Advising for Help When Needed

Don’t be afraid to reach out to Academic Advising if you have questions or need assistance with course pairing and progression. Speaking with your Academic Advising team about your goals can help you understand what you need to do to achieve those goals, even if that involves staggering your courses. We’re here to help in any way we can, even if that means giving you a dose of motivation to finish strong!

About the Author

Loren Germann-McClain is currently in her third year as a Senior Academic Advisor II with the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She holds an M.A. in English – Rhetoric and Composition from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, as well as an M.A. in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University.

Loren previously worked in human resources and public relations at a public library in Indiana, where she helped develop a project to bring mental health first aid and awareness to public and academic libraries across the state. She has earned grants to help develop coding programs for school-age children and develop free, extracurricular activities to help align with the Indiana State standards for computer science, technology, and coding. Her work has helped empower Hoosier students to be equipped with the critical and computational problem-solving skills they will need in order to succeed in a digitally powered and ever-evolving world.

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