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Academic Policies & Procedures

4x4 Curriculum

What is a 4 x 4 curriculum?

Students take four courses at four credits each versus the previous five courses at three credits each.  Semester credit hours are counted toward graduation instead of courses.  Fewer courses do not equal less work though, as students encounter a more focused and in-depth experience that is heavier on reading, writing, research, and various kinds of experiential learning.

Transitioning to a 4 x 4 curriculum wasn’t just a change in the number of credits and courses.  Every course in every major and minor was re-assessed, institutional and distribution requirements were adapted and adjusted appropriately, and the changes were examined and approved by a college wide transition team and ultimately the president and the board.

  • Out of the top 50 liberal arts colleges, 47 already have a 4 x 4 curriculum.  With this major change, Merrimack has developed a very distinctive curriculum, one that also incorporates service learning, experiential learning and Augustinian values.
  • Studies have shown that today’s students are better able to handle four courses than five.  Learning outcomes are improved when they can spend more time studying and exploring four subjects in greater depth. 

Credit Hours

Merrimack College’s policy on credit hours relies on federal regulation, which defines a credit hour as an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutional established equivalence that reasonably approximates not less than:

  • One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or 10 to 12 weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  • At least an equivalent amount of work as required in the above paragraph for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
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