To outline expectations about the amount of time appropriate to schedule for students’ in- class and out-of-class activities during the pre-clerkship phase of the curriculum, with the goal of ensuring sufficient time for self-directed learning and a manageable weekly workload.

All students in, and faculty instructing in, the pre-clerkship phase of the curriculum.

6.3 Self-Directed and Life-Long Learning
8.8 Monitoring Student Time



  • Contact Hours: Contact hours include active learning sessions or lectures and may be delivered in various formats including in-person instruction (e.g., a classroom-based PBL or TBL), synchronous online instruction (e.g., a Zoom-based TBL), and/or asynchronous recorded instruction (e.g., a recorded lecture). Active learning sessions occur during scheduled time, while lectures are viewed during unscheduled time.

  • Faculty Assigned Activities: Faculty assigned activities do not count in the contact hours but do count in the total weekly workload. Faculty assigned activities may include reading textbooks or journal articles, preparing written reflections, essays, or other assigned homework activities, or completing IRATs, and asynchronous quizzes or examinations. Faculty assigned activities may be associated with one or more active learning sessions and are generally completed during unscheduled time.

  • Scheduled Time: Scheduled sessions with required attendance (including active learning such as PBL, TBL, peer teaching, patient panels, journal clubs, clinical skills sessions, the longitudinal clinical experience) and synchronous examinations.

  • Unscheduled Time: Time not reserved for an active learning session or examination that students may use for viewing recorded lectures, completion of assigned activities, independent study (including self-directed learning), or personal matters.


  1. Total student workload should not exceed 60 hours per week and is calculated using the following formula: Weekly student workload = (Contact Hours x 2) + Faculty Assigned Activities.

  2. Contact Hours for the individual student should not exceed 24 hours (28 hours for Human Architecture and Function [HAF]) in any week averaged across non-exam weeks in the course. For courses after HAF, this includes 12 hours for active learning sessions (M/W/F 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.), 8 hours for recorded and/or audience-response system lectures, and 4 hours for clinical skills or longitudinal clinical experiences.

  3. Contact Hour Multiplier is 2. For every hour of contact time, students are expected to spend one additional hour processing content. This includes researching PBL objectives and reviewing materials for exams. When calculating the weekly workload, the contact hours are multiplied by a factor of 2. (i.e., 48 hours of work for a 24-contact hour week, or 56 hours of work estimated for a 28-contact hour week).

  4. Faculty Assigned Activities are added to the contact hours to determine the weekly workload. Because the maximum weekly workload is 60 hours, a 24-contact hour week represents 48 hours of work, with up to 12 hours remaining for faculty assigned activities (4 hours for HAF). Textbook or journal article reading assignments are estimated to require 1 hour for every 12 pages of reading. Writing assignments that reference external resources are estimated to require 2 hours for every 250 written words; writing assignments (e.g., reflections) that do not reference external resources are estimated to require 1 hour for every 250 written words; and a written H&P is estimated to require 1 hour for every 500 words written. IRATs or quizzes are estimated to require 5 minutes for every question, while summative examinations require the time allotted for completion (e.g., a 2-hour examination is allotted 2 hours).

  5. Exam weeks will follow a modified schedule and should focus on review rather than the introduction of new material. Synchronous examinations should take place on Friday mornings when possible. The schedule and workload hours on exam weeks should be adjusted as follows: 1) 16 Contact hours with 8 hours for Active Learning (4 hours on Monday morning, 4 hours on Wednesday morning), 4 hours for lectures, and 4 hours for clinical skills/LCE, 2) 4 hours for faculty assigned activity hours, and 3) 4 hours for examination for a TOTAL 40 hours for workload ([8+4+4]x2 + 4 + 4 = 40 hours). (For HAF: 18 contact hours, 2 hours for faculty assigned activities, 4 hours for examinations).

  6. Students in good standing may take electives or participate in enrichment experiences that do not count towards workload limits.


    The Course Director(s) with the assistance of staff from the Office of Medical Education, will be responsible for tracking the weekly contact hours and workload within their course and ensuring these metrics do not exceed 24 hours and 60 hours, respectively. This information will be reported annually to the Committee on Educational Policy and its subcommittees.

    Student perceptions of workload for each course will be monitored in focus groups and in evaluation questions throughout the curriculum.

    Workload calculations do not include additional time students may spend on special curricular pathways (e.g., CHS programs). Time spent on special curricular pathways should not exceed 5 hours per week. Communication with pathway leadership, course directors, the Curriculum Enrichment Subcommittee, and the Committee on Educational Policy is required to ensure the cumulative expectations of these students are reasonable.

    Curriculum Managers
    Course Directors

    UC Davis School of Medicine Bylaws and Regulations, Regulation 76 (B): Course Credit Units

    Satisfactory Academic Progress
    Pre-Clerkship Classroom Policy
    Formative Assessment Policy
    Narrative Assessment Policy

    Committee on Educational Policy

    Curriculum Managers Course Directors
    Curriculum Enrichment Subcommittee
    Committee on Educational Policy*
    Associate Dean of Curriculum and Medical Education

    October 2024; Annual review cycle

    * indicates the policy owner