What is “college credit”?

Each course you take in college will have a corresponding amount of credits. These credits represent the number of hours you’ve spent in class, either in-person or online.

This generally means taking 12-15 credits per semester for full-time students, whereas part-time students would (generally) fall below the 12-credit hour mark.

How to calculate college credits

If you are enrolled in a college course, there’s a particular amount of time of instruction when it comes to determining the number of credits that are applied to the class. For each credit, most schools require 15-16 hours of instruction. If your class is a 3-credit course, you should expect to receive between 45-48 hours of instruction.

Classes requiring laboratory, fieldwork, or internship hours, calculate credit hours differently. Students attending an accelerated program such as graduate school might have eight week semesters. Accelerated classes mean more time spent in each individual class session and potential outside participation requirements. You will complete courses like these quickly.

Here’s a tip that might help as you are trying to build out your schedule. 3-credits, when applying the above breakdown, means about 3 hours per week in class. Some classes offer the option to attend once, twice, or three times per week. If you are also trying to manage a job, this can help you determine if a 3-4 hours class that meets once a week will work with your job schedule, or if you select a class that meets 2-3 days per week if you are working part-time.

How many college credits do you need to graduate?

Now that you know how to calculate college credits, you might be asking yourself how to apply this to your graduation. Here is the general breakdown for college classes and credits for graduation:

  • Associate’s Degree: 60-65 credit hours or about 20 classes
  • Bachelor’s Degree: 120-130 credit hours or about 40 classes
  • Master’s Degree: ranges between 30-60 credit hours, or 10-20 classes — depending on the program and school

Remember, these are the basic principles on college credits and how they are applied. For the specific requirements for your degree, it’s always best to work with an Academic Advisor at your school. They will make sure you stay on track and complete all the courses you need to graduate.