The ABET accreditation criteria document for Computer Science lists some course requirements as

  • One year of Science and Mathematics
  • At least one half year of Mathematics
  • One and one-third years of Computer Science
  • At least one year of up-to-date coverage of fundamental and advanced topics

How many courses is one year equivalent to? It may mean 10, going by 5 courses per semester. "One year of X" may mean a year where there is at least one course on X every semester. In either case, "one and one-third years" of courses does not make sense.


A "year" of a subject almost certainly means one course per term for a year's worth of terms. That is, "one year of science" at a semester school would mean two courses in science. (At least, this is how I've seen similar terminology used in discussing mathematics requirements---when people say something requires "2 years of math" they mean taking in total at least four semester long courses, not necessarily consecutively.)

The "one and one-third" years is presumably for schools which use trimesters, where that means 4 courses. (I assume that at a semester school that means three courses---a year and a half---since these are minimal requirements, though I wonder if they really expect schools which use trimesters to include two courses on discrete math.)

  • Even the CS requirements seem bizarre, "a. Computer science: One and one-third years that must include: 1. Coverage of the fundamentals of algorithms, data structures, software design, concepts of programming languages and computer organization and architecture. 2. An exposure to a variety of programming languages and systems. 3. Proficiency in at least one higher-level language. 4. Advanced course work that builds on the fundamental course work to provide depth." They require no more than 3 courses of CS for a CS program, which have to cover all of the above. – wsaleem May 10 '14 at 6:12
  • The other answer is correct and appropriately quotes the relevant ABET definition. At a semester school where 120 credits are required for graduation, the CAC requirement would correspond to 10, not 2, required courses in science and math. – Alex Szatmary Aug 24 '18 at 3:10

ABET formally defines a "year" as

The lesser of 32 semester-hours (or equivalent) or one-fourth of the credits required for graduation [1].

The wiggle room in the definition is almost certainly because of the wide variety of credit systems used by various schools. "One and a third years" would then equate either to 42 semester hours, or four full trimesters or quarters of study for those on alternate study schedules.

[1] http://www.abet.org/eac-criteria-2014-2015/

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