How Many Credits Do I Need for a Bachelor’s Degree?

A major undertaking that many people attempt is the Bachelor’s Degree. Although it may seem as though there are so many people who have achieved this qualification, the truth is that not many people who start, are able to finish the course. If you are planning to do your Bachelor’s Degree, you will find that the program is split into several units which are known as courses. Each semester, you will need to finish a certain number of courses in order to move from one stage to the next. The courses are measured in credits, and it is these that are added up at the end to determine if you have done all the work that is necessary to qualify for your Bachelor Degree.

Credit Hours

Over the course of your Bachelor degree program, you will need to complete an average of 180 credit hours per quarter. This may vary slightly from one country to the next, though it is applicable for most universities offering American programs. The credit hours are measured in a number of ways depending on the institution, with some being measured every quarter, while others are measured in a semester. When they are measured per semester, they will normally add up to 120 credit hours.


The choice of your course or program will also determine the number of credit hours that you need to complete to get your degree. There will be some general education courses that you need to complete so that you have an excellent foundation of skills.

In most cases, the number of credits for a bachelor degree fall into two categories. Those that are mandatory such as the general education courses and the ones that are specific to what you are studying. Then there are additional credit hours that are for elective courses. Elective courses are those that give you an additional qualification, such as a minor. This makes up around 20 credit hours of the 120 that you would attain in the semester program.

Here is a basic breakdown of how the credit hours work out in a semester course: –

  • 36 credit hours need to be completed within the junior to senior level in order to qualify for a Bachelor of Arts degree. For a major program, the total number of credit hours that are needed are 42.
  • 30 credit hours need to be completed within the same period in order to qualify for a Bachelor of Science degree. Students are said to be seniors when they have fully completed 86 credit hours.
  • Of the courses available, at least 25 need to be taken in the main subject area.
  • A total of 66 hours need to be in disciplines other than their major discipline.
  • In the event that a student is looking to do a multi discipline major, then for each discipline they will need to complete an average of 45 credit hours to in that discipline so that they can meet the needs to graduate.
  • A student may choose to do internship to contribute towards their total hours for a Bachelor’s degree. These can get up to a maximum of 24 credit hours for course completion.

There are some rules that may apply when it comes to the type of courses that one can do so that their credits add up for the bachelor degree. For example, if one wants to take physical education activity courses that are not a significant part of their major, most programs will only allow 4 credit hours of these types of courses. Courses that are known as arts ensemble courses which may not be a part of their major can make up a maximum of 6 credit hours for the program.

Credit Exemptions

Before enrolling for your Bachelor’s degree, it is possible that you have completed a foundation course, or even a diploma in the same area that you are looking to study. When this happens, you may find that you are exempted from some credit hours as doing them will be a repetition and may not add value to your overall course. It is also possible to get some exemptions if you are a working professional as your experience may mean that you do not need to do certain courses. Furthermore, if you have been in the military, or have some type of military experience, you may find that you are exempt from certain courses. When this happens, it is said that you are in an accelerated program, and you are able to complete your Bachelor’s degree with less credits, and in a shorter period of time.

If you are transferring from one institution to another, you will find that the maximum amount of credit hours that most universities will accept is 75% of the total course. In the even that you choose to do a part time course, then it will take you a little longer than the four years to complete your course. You can calculate how long the course will take you based on the number of credit hours you can complete in each semester.

Strike a Balance

Although you need 120 semester credit hours, or 180 quarter credit hours to complete your Bachelor’s degree, you need to strike a balance with your cumulative GPA. You may have all the credits for a bachelors degree, but your marks are too low for you to actually qualify for it. Maintaining an GPA average of 2.00 is recommended so that your credit hours count once you have completed your course.

Even with the possibility of exemptions, and the chance for you to choose the courses you like, you should keep in mind that your best strategy is to ensure you have completed 180 credit hours.All these credit hours must be unduplicated. It is also worth noting that there are courses, especially those that are geared towards a specialization that may require more than the minimum aforementioned credit hours to effectively complete.

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