Course Workload Considerations

As you begin to develop your content, please keep in mind the amount of time that students will be spending on reading, activities, and assignments in your course. To make sure our courses are meeting workload standards, the eLearning team will use a course workload calculator after weeks 1 & 2 are developed and at the end of the development.

Here are some general guidelines for how much time students can expect to spend on school each week:

  • 3-credit Undergraduate Course – 17 hours per week for a 7-week course and 10 hours per week for a 15-week course
  • 3-credit Graduate Course – 15-20 hours per week, per course
  • 6-credit Graduate Course – 25-30 hours per week, per course (6-credit graduate courses are only offered in the MS in Executive Leadership program)

So how do you measure how many hours students will spend on each component of your course?


Below is the table of estimated reading rates adopted from Rice University:

450 Words (lessons, news articles, and nonfiction)600 Words (academic journals, tech manuals, scholarly articles)750 Words (textbooks and two-column academic journals)
Understand; Some New Concepts (180 wpm)24 pages per hour18 pages per hour14 pages per hour
Understand; Many New Concepts (130 wpm)17 pages per hour13 pages per hour10 pages per hour
Engage; Some New Concepts (90 wpm)12 pages per hour9 pages per hour7 pages per hour
Engage; Many New Concepts (65 wpm)9 pages per hour7 pages per hour5 pages per hour
  • Understand: Reading to understand the meaning of each sentence (typical of most resources)
  • Engage: Reading while also working on problems, drawing inferences, questioning, and evaluating (think case studies)

Writing Requirements

Below is the table of estimated writing time based on a paper that is double-spaced, uses 12pt Times New Roman font, and includes a 1” margin.

Minimal Research: Required research is limited to engagement with content provided in the course. Typical of reflective and/or narrative pieces.1 hour per page
Moderate Research: Students are required to support writing with research or sources perhaps not otherwise provided in the course content. For example, moderate research could include argumentative and analytical papers, lab reports, and case studies.2 hours per page
Extensive Research: Students are required to integrate a considerable amount of research into the assignment. Typical of substantive thesis essays, summative/semester-long reports, and papers accompanied by an annotated bibliography.4 hours per page


Below is the table for estimated time spent reading discussion posts and writing posts.

Reading Time  Writing Time*Total
Undergraduate1 hour per discussion2 hours per discussion3 hours per discussion
Graduate (3-Credit)1 hour per discussion4 hours per discussion5 hours per discussion
MSEL-Graduate (6-credit)1 hour per discussion5 hours per discussion6 hours per discussion


The workload for one week in a 7-week undergraduate course might look like this:

  • Two 30-page textbook chapters: 6 hours
  • Two 2-page news articles: 10 minutes
  • One 15-page scholarly article: 1 hour
  • Two lesson pages that include three 10-minute YouTube videos: 35 minutes
  • One discussion: 3 hours
  • One 3-page written argument paper: 6 hours

Total hours: 16 hours and 45 minutes