How Many Credits Do You Need for a Bachelor's Degree?

At many universities, including DeVry, a bachelor's degree requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. Some bachelor's degrees may require more credit hours depending on the area of study.

It’s understandable to have questions about credit hours. Understanding how they're defined, what makes a course count for a certain number of credit hours or why certain bachelor's degrees require more credit hours than others can be helpful as you pursue your degree. In this article, we'll explore all of those topics by answering the following questions:

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How are Credits Defined?

Just about everyone has heard the term "credits" at some point in their education. They’re also likely aware of how many credits they're taking and how many they need to graduate from school. Yet many of people don’t know exactly what a credit actually is.

Credits, often called credit hours, are calculated based on the estimated number of hours per week a student may spend completing that particular course. For example, one college credit typically amounts to one hour of in-class learning and two hours of homework or self-guided study per week. At most colleges, a typical course is three to four credits, meaning they take three to four hours of class time plus studying, totaling anywhere from nine to 12 hours per week.

Of course, these are just estimates. Study time can vary from student to student according to their needs, and from course to course. It's not uncommon for one student to spend less than 12 hours a week on a four-credit course, just as it's not uncommon to find a student who spends more than that per week on the same course. Despite this, a credit hour calculation can be useful when deciding how much coursework you can handle during a single session or semester.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Credit?

The amount of time it takes to earn a credit is typically based on the length of a session at your university. A university that operates on the quarter system takes one quarter to earn a credit, and a university that operates on a semester system takes one semester to earn a credit. How many credits you can earn during a session is determined by your course load and the credit value of each individual course.

Do Bachelor's Degree Program Lengths Vary?

Yes, bachelor's degree programs can vary in length. While the minimum requirement for a bachelor's degree program is often 120 credits, it is not uncommon to see bachelor's degrees require more credit hours because of the way that credits are defined.

Certain bachelor's degrees may require more credits than others. The number of credit hours required will be based upon the amount of time needed to learn the appropriate knowledge and skills for the field you are preparing for.

It's also worth noting that just because one degree requires more credits than another, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will take longer to complete. Two degrees may have different credit requirements but still require the same number of courses – some courses may just carry a heavier workload than others.

Interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree?

At DeVry, we offer bachelor's degree programs with clearly defined credit requirements in a range of study areas. Explore our programs to see how many credits each bachelor's degree takes and request more info from our admissions team to find out which program might be the right fit for you.