Gordon Smith writes:
When I entered academe just over a decade ago, almost every law school had a standard teaching load of four courses or 12 credit hours per year. In the past decade, the norm among top law schools has shifted to three courses or 10 credits per year.
The average political scientist teaches a 4–4 (or eight courses per year); at the moment I teach a nominal 3–3,* but with directed readings every semester and an honors thesis to supervise it’s more like a 4–4. Perhaps the most direct equivalent to law school teaching, in departments with MA programs, usually only nets a 3–3; it’s only in the somewhat rarified air of Ph.D. programs that the 2–2 load that Smith says is typical for law schools is common. Even in Ph.D.-granting departments, however, faculty rarely teach just graduate students.
Don’t know if this means anything important, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
* At Millsaps, a standard semester-long course is 4 credit hours, which seems somewhat common among national liberal arts colleges; most public institutions have 3-hour courses if on the semester system. So I teach 12 hours per semester, although due to teaching afternoon and night classes in 150-minute slots I only teach the equivalent of 9 contact hours.