Two college class load ?'s

BTW, my screwed up computer won’t let me use search engines.

  1. How many classes do proffessors teach per semester?

2)Is grad school like undergrad in what’s considered a “full course load”? (usually 5 classes)

  1. It varies widely by institution. Generally, it’s somewhere between three and eight classes per academic year for a university on the semester system.

  2. When I was in graduate school, a full load was three courses per quarter at first (three quarters per academic year.) At some point I went to “advanced residency” and my normal load was one course per quarter. Of course, if you look at my transcript, most of the courses I took were “Thesis Research” — the course registration was only nominal, and my time was spent doing research on my dissertation.

Grad school for an M.A., an M.D., a Ph.D. or what? They will all be quite different, and it will be different in different places. In Britain (at least back when I did it), there is no coursework at all for a Ph.D. It all goes on the dissertation.

njtt: Looking for info on American Ph.D (in science, if it matters)

My undergrad institution recently switched from 3 classes per prof each semester to a 3/2, which is three one semester and two the other.

I am not sure about taught course loads for U.S. Ph.D.s. My guess is that they will vary a lot by institution and possibly by discipline. In any case, the time you have to complete a Ph.D. is usually flexible to some degree (depending largely on how long you can finance it), so it is not usually so much a matter of course load per semester as the total number of courses you need to complete.

What I can tell you is that any Ph.D. (in any subject) from any decent or half-way decent institution (and where you get your PH.D. matters a lot, far more than where you get your Bachelor’s) is going to demand total dedication of your time and intellectual energy. It is not like doing an undergraduate degree, or even a Master’s, where you can goof off and get by with barely passing grades (or even goof off and get straight As if you are really smart). For a Ph.D. you have to really care about what you are doing.

The same with tenured and tenure track professors, especially the ones with the light teaching loads. Those are the guys at the prestigious institutions who are publishing most of the stuff that actually has an impact on their discipline. To get tenure you need to be dedicated to your research (and, generally, by the time you have got tenure, the dedication has become a habit).

appleciders: They are reducing teaching loads in this economic climate? That is weird. Maybe they are being furloughed, i.e., having to take an involuntary pay cut commensurate with an involuntary cut in teaching hours. (That has been happening at the institution where I used to teach.)

At the big research universities, some professors do almost no teaching at all. My PI was teaching only one third of a class per semester.

The most common load in the US is 3 courses/term. But it varies a lot. Depending on funding, individual or department, it can be a lot less. At my first job it was 1 class per term. My second was 1-2 per term. Both departments had a lot of general grant funding. My third would have been 3 per term but I usually had funding that cut that to two per term. While that department had a lot of general grant money, it didn’t go to cutting course load.

As mentioned, if a prof has enough grant money, it can come down to zero.

The most common load for a grad student (master’s or PhD in the first years) would be 3 courses. At some places, grad students are limited to 3 or 4 if they are funded.

After the preliminaries in a PhD program, you just sign up for X hours of a research “course”, where X depends on the situation. E.g., X would be a full load if you had funding that required it, or just a token number of hours required to maintain status if it didn’t

Three courses per term for a prof is not an uncommon load, although at research universities it is generally limited to two, unless you have tenure and have stopped doing research. Often stars are down to 1 or at least 3 per year.

When I was in grad school, I don’t recall there was any specific course requirements, although I did take a number of courses. At McGill, where I am now, there didn’t used to be until the effing provincial bureaucrats decided to require courses (apparently because everything had to metrized). Now I think 45 credits are required for MSc and an additional 45 for PhD. My department responded by offering unlimited credits for “research”. Of course, we had to assign different numbers to them, because the bureaucrats allowed no repetition. Idiotic.

In general, graduate students do not take more than three courses per term. And most of them have TA jobs (mostly marking and running tutorial sessions, although a few advanced ones teach whole courses).

At four-year institutions with a focus on research, it can vary widely as detailed above. At the community college level, it’s different. My load is 5/5, since we’re not a research institution.

At my community college, a PT professor will teach one or two sections. They used to be able to get three when there was a real demand or emergency, but with the massive budget cuts, they’re lucky to get anything. This is why many end up working on multiple campuses.

FT professors will teach 4 classes, although they may get release time and teach 2 or 3 if they are going to be serving on committees, task forces, or other things that will eat up their time. Dept. heads also don’t teach more than 1 or 2 sections for the same reason.

When I started teaching, I was at a 4-year univ. and the situation was pretty similar.

Current Ph.D. student. I’m on an assistantship, so I take three courses per semester and spend allegedly 20 hours but really significantly less doing work associated with the course I’m TAing. (I give three one-hour lectures a week and proctor exams.) If I weren’t on aid, I’d take four courses. (Those are the minimum levels to be considered full-time.) This is widely regarded as a bad idea and to be avoided if possible, since the courses are much more intensive than even the masters-level courses offered in the department.

That may vary from field to field. I’m in economics.

My experiences in the sciences are similar to Ace309’s, except I’m a 10 hour RA with a separate grant which is intended to compensate for missing the other 10 hours but falls a bit short.

Most medium to hard sciences are PhD programs from what I gather. You can often pick up an MA/MS along the way, but terminal Master’s programs are rare. You can get your master’s then leave the program, too. PhD coursework is mostly dissertation credits, and other credits like independent reading. Classes would only be taken if there are some you didn’t take before your masters, or if credits don’t transfer if you switch schools, or taken for fun/self-edification.

Financial aid is the group that controls what constitutes full time usually here. With an assistanceship, 9 is considered full time for grants and such, but loans only need 6 credits.

It completely depends on what University and program you are in.

I am a tenure-track professor (science) at a major US research university. We are on the quarter system. I teach 3 classes (one per quarter), but all the classes are team-taught. If you add up all my lectures, I teach the equivalent of about one full course per year.

Most of my time (about 70-80%) is taken up with research. teaching is a secondary priority.

A full course load for our grad students is 22 credit hours per quarter. After the first year or so, about 20 of those 22 credit hours are research.

From my experience: Here, grad students generally do six hours (two full-size courses) in their first year, to meet some silly residency requirements, and then go to nine hours or a little more (if they’re signed up for seminars) for a few years after that. At that point, you’ve filled all of the coursework requirements and get your master’s degree, and then work entirely or almost entirely on research from there out. You’ll still be signing up for courses (precisely how much depends on the red tape du jour), but they’re all just research credits, and don’t really mean anything (you’re certainly not sitting in a classroom being lectured to, and the amount of work you do for it is independent of how many hours you’re officially signed up for).

For a professor, several of the professors here are on what’s called “soft money”, paid entirely from their research grants. They’re not under any obligation to teach anything at all, though sometimes one or two of them will offer a course (usually graduate level) on a topic relevant to their research. For those on the tenure track, a normal courseload is two classes per semester, though that gets juggled around (some professors prefer to do four in one semester and take the next off, for instance), and some professors do as many as three. There are also non-tenure-track adjuncts who are not expected to do any research at all, and who teach as many as four courses every semester.

Any particular science?

Some non-research universities give faculty lighter loads if they’re the department chair or if they advise a student organization. This is supposed to give them the time to do so.

As others have noted it varies greatly by institution type and how the year is divided. I’ve only attended and worked at institutions that were on semesters, but in California they operate on the quarter system (which sounds insane to me… you’re always starting or ending a course). :slight_smile:

Most graduate faculty at an institution like mine are expected to devote significant time to research. The usual load is a 2/2 (two classes a semester). As others have noted, there are ways around this. If you secure external grant funding, you can “buy out” your teaching - your department hires someone else to teach your course, and then you can do more research, go fishing, etc. There’s an issue of collegiality, so it’s probably not in your best interest to have all of your courses bought out, even if you have the resources to do so. Your department head probably won’t let you, anyway. Also, other responsibilities (heavy advising load, leadership in a national or regional organization) might earn you release time from teaching.

Summers here are optional. There’s no pressure to teach; we have more than enough good adjuncts willing to teach. Some departments do expect some tenure-track faculty in the summer to teach; summers are becoming increasingly necessary for students to finish on time.

Regarding class load, at my institution, it’s 9 hours (three three-hour courses that meet once a week). You could do more, but you won’t have much of a life outside of courses and prepping/reading/writing for them.

At my school, both grad and undergrad, you were considered “full-time” if you carried 12 credits. For law school, you had to have 6 semesters of residency I think it was called in order to sit for the bar exam. I think that also was 12 credits but I won’t swear to it. I was pretty stoned for most of law school.

A normal lecture/recitation style class was usually 3 credits. Any class with a lab was usually 4.

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