What are Credit Hours & Courses in US Universities ? Full time vs Part time ?
If you are an international student, you may have hard time in the beginning trying to understand what credit hour stands for and what are courses. Everyone around you would be talking the credit hour lingo and courses….it can be frustrating..I was recently asked by one of our readers about credit hours as well, let me share some of my thoughts on credit hours.
What are credit hours ?
In simplistic terms, credit hour is the basic unit of measurement that count towards award of degree either bachelors or Masters. Every degree would have its own set of requirements for credit hours…i.e. for instance, to obtain a bachelors degree usually schools may require anywhere from 110 to 140 credits depending on school…similarly for Masters, it may be anywhere from 30 to 39 or more depending on program.
What is the relation between course and credit hour ?
A course is measured in terms of credit hours. Based on the amount of work load and instruction hours, a course is assigned certain number of credits. Basic courses may be like 1 credit or 2 credits in Undergrad. As you take higher level ones in Undergrad, they may be range 3 to 4 credits. In masters most of the courses are either 3 or 4 credits.
Credit hour work load, instruction time in class ?
This totally depends on school….but in general, each credit hour corresponds to one hour of lecture time in class per week. For instance, if you take a 3 credit class, you would have 3 hours of instruction in class. Depending on school, a credit hour can have 2 to 4 hours of off class work like labs, home work, project work etc. What it means is, if you take 3 credit class, you may be required to study 6 to 12 hours outside of class to be able to do well in class.
Full time vs. Part time based on credit hours ?
In Masters level, typically, if you take 6 credits or less your status is considered part time. if you take 9 or more credit hours, then it is considered full time. It does not matter how many courses you take, what counts is the number of credits.For instance, you may take one 3 credit course and two 1.5 credit courses, though you are taking 3 courses, still you are part time because you are taking less credits. In undergrad level, typically taking 12 credits is considered full time. Also, there may be limit on the number of credits you can take in a semester based on the school…
Credit hours are used in GPA calculation as well, check this article How to calculate GPA in US schools . You have to be very careful in choosing your course load at least in the first semester..Read this article Why NOT to take more than 3 courses in MS first semester
Do you any other thoughts to share on courses and credit hours ?
Image Credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/earlhamcollege/4388225096/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Reference : College Credit hour info