Class Scheduling Policy

The University of Alabama Class Scheduling Policy & Class Scheduling Patterns For The Academic Week

The primary goal of the Academic Scheduling Process is to maximize the probability that all students receive their choice of courses required for graduation on a timely basis (within the prescribed number of semesters) by providing a conflict-free resource environment (staff, space, and courses) which minimizes operating and capital costs.

  • General Policy Regarding the Academic Scheduling Process.
    • The policy for class scheduling is established by the Office of the Provost and implemented by the Office of The University Registrar.
    • The term "department" refers to the scheduling unit.
    • General objectives in building the Schedule of Classes include providing workable schedules for students by departments, ensuring access to courses by students, making efficient use of classrooms and laboratories/special laboratories, and minimizing overhead associated with Schedule of Classes administration.
    • All classes are scheduled to start at the hour or half-hour.
  • Scheduling Axioms.
    • The length of the academic week and variations in time patterns used in constructing a schedule of classes play important roles in the effectiveness of the academic schedule.
    • The academic week is the set of days and times during which instructional activity occurs. For UA the academic week is typically 65 hours (including evening availability).
    • Time patterns are the configurations of days and hours to be used in setting up the Schedule of Classes. If a standard set of patterns is chosen, with compatible starting and ending times, schedules will fit together more easily. If patterns are dissimilar, more conflicts will occur within a given academic week.
    • When courses are concentrated at one time, students have minimum course selectivity and no scheduling flexibility. Maximum staff and space resources are required.
    • When courses are distributed over all time periods, students have complete course selectivity and scheduling flexibility since any combination of courses may be taken. Staff and space resource needs can be minimized.
    • The probability of a student obtaining a conflict-free schedule can be greatly increased when the courses are distributed throughout the hours of the day and the days of the week.
    • It is highly desirable to distribute course offerings evenly over an academic week, thus providing for the largest number of non-conflicting time patterns.
  • Scheduling Strategies:
    • Departments must strictly adhere to the approved standard set of time patterns.
    • Departments must schedule all multiple lecture and laboratory/special laboratory sections so that student course enrollments will be distributed approximately equally between mornings and afternoons and between the different meeting patterns (TR vs. MWF).
    • Since the goal is to provide all students with the largest number of opportunities to register for as many courses as possible, departments should make efforts to schedule courses during non-peak hours. Peak hours are between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
    • Because the standard meeting lengths are in 50- and 75-minute time blocks, non-standard sections should be offered in multiples of these times to avoid end times that preclude students from registering for courses that may follow the non-standard section.
    • General usage of classrooms will begin two weeks prior to established deadlines for the schedule. This deadline is typically identical to that of the printed schedule of classes. Departments/colleges will have the ability to schedule in rooms they manage first. After this, the Registrar's office will utilize all available classrooms to assist other departments in need of space. All departments involved in the optimization process will be notified by the Registrar's office.

Required Class Meeting Length:

# Semester Credit Hours Meeting Sequences Required Length of Each Class Meeting
For 4 hour class MTWR 50 min
For 3 hour class MWF 50 min
For 3 hour class MW* 1 hour 15 min
For 3 hour class M or T or W or R or F* 2 hours 50 min
For 3 hour class TR 1 hour 15 min
For 2 hour class MW or MF or TR or WF 50 min
For 1 hour class M or T or W or R or F 50 min
  • * Courses may only be scheduled using these sequences after 3:00 pm.
    • Exceptions: Labs and Clinical or Practicum Courses
    • Other Exceptions include didactic courses taught in conjunction with clinical or practicum classes.
    • Lectures that have recitation times may meet on the MW format. However, all attempts should be made to schedule the recitation time in the same time block on the corresponding day in the pattern. For example, HY 101 has a lecture on MW from 9-9:50 AM. Recitations should be scheduled, when possible, on F from 9-9:50 AM. When this is impossible, the recitation sections may only be scheduled at non-peak hours (before 9 AM or after 3 PM). This will lessen the impact on student's schedules and room utilization.
    • Graduate courses, taught during peak hours (9AM-3PM), are exempt from this policy provided they meet in a room with a capacity of 15 or less. Graduate courses taught at non-peak hours are exempt regardless of their room capacity.
    • The scheduling policy is not in effect for summer terms.
  • Deviations from Approved Patterns
    • Courses that receive prior approval may deviate from the scheduled time patterns reflected. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis and will be approved only if a compelling argument can be made as to why the approved patterns will not meet the needs of the department. A request for approval shall be sent to Denny Savage and Michael George. Note: Requests to deviate from approved patterns must be sent by the Chair of the requesting department and copied to the Dean of the course offering unit.