Do College Credits Expire?

Core classes are always in demand. If you are planning to return in order to complete your undergraduate course, most conventional classes transferring happen easily between the schools.

Updated by Sreelekha R K on 21st March 2020

NO, the credits never expire. It is just that it will be transferred to a program that may decline over time.

Core classes are always in demand. If you are planning to return in order to complete your undergraduate course, most conventional classes transferring happen easily between the schools. The typical courses that you would have taken in your initial state are as follows.

  • Life experience is sometimes relevant. Some programs allocate transfer credit for real-world experience. If you have worked in the field or industry of your degree path, there are high chances you can earn credit for that experience of yours. 

  • Graduate courses have a 7-year serviceable period. But, courses that are aligned to professional needs are harder to transfer in and also the methodologies taught before may be recognized to be old now.

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math abbreviated as STEM degrees have a serviceable duration for 10 years.

Most of you people who are planning to change college in the mid-year or finish the incomplete education after a few years in order to earn a degree, we are sure you will be having n number of questions about the college credit.

So here is an article that gives you complete details about everything related to the credit and transferring it.

What is College Credit?

Basically, there is no accurate definition of “college credit” for universities or schools. Though, one credit hour usually means that a student has attended one class per week over the course of 15 weeks or one semester, and also has participated around 2 hours of out-of-classroom work, which may be homework, labs, projects, and more. Hence, most of your core classes are worth 3 credits, because they usually meet 3 times a week, or twice a week for 90 minutes and have equal out-of-class assignments.

2 and 1-hour classes are more inadequate classes that meet for less time and require less work, like electives.

For online colleges, credits are calculated differently. Since you’re not sitting in a regular classroom, credits are counted by how many times you log in to participate, and how much time you spend on questioning and overall discussions to your class. But it’s important to understand that even though you’re taking classes online, you will have to participate to earn a good grade and the credit hours with respect to the class.

Beware of the following

  • The credits in subjects like Math, History, Art, and English, that acts as a basis for most of the bachelor’s degrees, tend to be easily transferrable no matter how old they are.
  • Science courses credits may not be accepted in transfer if they were received ages ago since science technology and scientific inventions and knowledge are differing every day. 
  • A few colleges may only get convinced to accept your transferrable honors as “elective” credits in your new degree curriculum which means you have to study certain subjects again to fulfill core requirements in your major.
  • Some schools will demand you to take a test which involves the subjects you have studied before to know how much you have evolved as a student with respect to knowledge and skills before giving you credit for past studies in it.
  • If you are planning to study in a science specialty stream that inculcates a lot of math, you may have to make a move and re-take single or multiple courses in this specialty in order to be prepared so that you can perform well in your new college.
  • Make sure you know the accreditation status of the school where you took your old credits as it is very difficult to transfer credits from a non-accredited institution. You may also have to be prepared to make very complete care about the quality of your credits at an online school.

How to determine credit’s life?

Although the credits don’t expire, you may have to face some difficulties when it comes to getting them accepted by your new school. If you are wondering how to determine credits life, here are a few important points you must consider 

In many cases, the subjects you have previously studied which are not relevant to the present course you want to take up might also be useful, it may be considered as elective credit.  

  • If any of your courses qualify as Core Curriculum/General Education at your target school?

  • If any of them are relevant to your proposed area of study?

Many of the schools will provide you an option saying “use by” limit that might range from 5 to 8 years or sometimes, it is more than 8 years depending upon the college.

The credits can not be transferred if your previous or current school or college is not accredited by the federal government of the US even if you have completed them recently.

How to get maximum credit and how much of it can be transferred?

Once you’ve completed the course and passed, transferring that credit is depended on the situation and guidelines. In cases where time after the course is 10, or even 20 years old, it is possible to be rewarded for your previous school credit. 

Maximum credits that can be transferred depends on the format of the credit system used at your colleges, both new and previous one. Private and state colleges generally accept a maximum of 60 credits in transfer.

How to analyze what credits I have?

The simplest way to analyze this is to communicate with your school or college from which you finished your previous education and collect details regarding the procedure they follow. Most schools have an option to complete this online.

But there are few examples where a handwritten letter is expected to be given. So here is a template of the letter if you are in need of it. 


College name


Date: 00/00/0000 (Day/Month/Year)

To the concerned person,

I would like to request you to process my application for a copy of my full record as early as possible. I have enclosed the $00 the fee that is needed by the institution. I attended school name from (start year) to (end year), I hope you find it helpful to locate my records. My student ID number was 000000 and my Social Security number is 111-11-1111. Please mail the copy to the address as mentioned below.

Name of Recipient

Email Address

Thanking you in advance for your immediate assistance.

Yours sincerely