What are College Credits?

When a student decides to go to college, they often have a general idea of what college life would entail; studying, attending lectures and sitting exams. They may have spoken with advisors, taken classes and started on the path to eventually graduate. They often neglect the finer points of college, namely college credits; what they are and why they are important. Learn exactly what college credits are and how they affect graduation.

What is a college credit?

Contact hours are lecture or lab time spent with a professor teaching their students. They usually last 50 minutes in real time. Students receive credit based on the amount of contact hours they spent studying in class, specifically 1 credit for 15 contact hours per semester and 2 hours outside of class doing additional preparation, homework or practical criteria. One course usually has a 45-hour contact hour requirement to receive 3 credits. Obtaining these three credits indicates the successful completion of a course of study.


How many credits to graduate?  

To graduate, a student must complete a set amount of credits. A standard university program requires that the student obtain 30 credit hours per year. Students must complete 120-130 credit hours for a Bachelor’s degree and 30-64 credit hours for a Master’s degree. Credits also determine the student’s Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) for the academic year or semester. GPA’s scores range from 0.0 to 4.0. A 4.0 score equals an A and a 0 score is equivalent to an F. Each university program outlines their GPA minimum requirement to graduate. The GPA is calculated by the final marks obtained from each course and the credit hours awarded that semester. Overall GPA is calculated by the average of all completed courses over the years of study.

Should I care about my credits?

Students should monitor their credits if they wish to change universities or resume their studies after a hiatus. Different universities have their own requirements on the amount of credits required to graduate. Also, some courses taken in one university may not apply in another. Knowing the amount of credits, a student still must obtain could be an important factor in choosing which university to attend. Also, in the event of resuming studies after a break, a student who knows the amount of credits they earned and how many remain could avoid taking unnecessary courses to complete their degree program.