Do College Credits Expire ? : College Credit Guide [2024]

Obtaining each college credit is a success, but how long do college credits last ? Do college credits expire ?

TCM Staff

28th March 2024

 Every university credit is an achievement, but how long do university credits last? Do university credits expire ?

The answer to this question depends on the state in which you study. In some states, college credits never expire, while in others they may expire after a certain number of years. This article provides a comprehensive guide to the expiration of college credits in the U.S., including :

  • The specific policies of different states
  • Consequences of credit expiration
  • Strategies for avoiding credit expiration
  • Whether you're a current student or considering graduate school, this article will help you understand how to protect your college credits and avoid unnecessary delays in earning your degree.

Let's start with the basics. What is a university credit ? A university credit is a unit of measurement that represents the academic work accomplished by a student in a course. The number of credits required to obtain a degree varies according to the program of study and the educational institution.

Now, back to the original question: do university credits expire? The answer is yes, in some states. However, the length of time college credits are valid varies from state to state. In some states, college credits never expire, while in others they may expire after 5, 10 or even 15 years.

Length of validity of university credits

The length of time university credits are valid varies from school to school and state to state. In some states, university credits never expire, while in others they may expire after a certain number of years.

40 States where university credits never expire

University credits never expire in the following states :

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Georgia
  5. Hawaii
  6. Idaho
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
  10. Kentucky
  11. Maine
  12. Maryland
  13. Massachusetts
  14. Michigan
  15. Minnesota
  16. Missouri
  17. Montana
  18. Nebraska
  19. Nevada
  20. New Hampshire
  21. New Jersey
  22. New Mexico
  23. New York
  24. North Carolina
  25. North Dakota
  26. Ohio
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Oregon
  29. Pennsylvania
  30. Rhode Island
  31. South Carolina
  32. South Dakota
  33. Tennessee
  34. Texas
  35. Utah
  36. Vermont
  37. Virginia
  38. West Virginia
  39. Wisconsin
  40. Wyoming

States where college credits can expire

Here are the states where university credits can expire and change over time : 

  • Alabama: 10 years
  • Alaska: 5 years
  • Arizona: 5 years
  • Arkansas: 5 years
  • Colorado: 10 years
  • Florida: 5 years for undergraduate courses, 7 years for postgraduate courses
  • Illinois: 5 years for courses taken at private institutions
  • Louisiana: 10 years
  • Mississippi: 5 years
  • Washington: 5 years

Expiration of college credits by state

Expiration of college credits may vary by state in the United States. Here's a look at some states' policies :

States where university credit expiration policies may vary by institution :

California : some private institutions may have their own credit expiration policies.

New York : Academic credits earned at public institutions do not expire. University credits earned at private institutions may expire after 10 years.

Texas : University credits earned at public institutions do not expire. University credits earned at private institutions may expire after 10 years.

Illinois : College credits do not expire for courses taken at public institutions. Credits taken at private establishments may expire after 5 years.

It's important to note that these policies can change over time, so it's always best to check with the educational institution or state accrediting agency for the most up-to-date information.

How Do I Know What credits I Have ?

Now that we've answered the question "how long do college credits last?", let's see how you can find out which credits you've already earned.

It's very easy to find out what credits you've earned in the past. The best way to do this is to contact your old school (or schools) and ask them! You can contact the registrar's office and follow the procedure they follow to give you your transcript. Some schools will allow you to do this online, while others will do it by post or e-mail. You can also send your request by certified mail and give instructions on how to receive your transcript.

Note that there may be a small fee for getting your transcript.

Reasons why college credits may expire

In some states, college credits may expire after a certain number of years. Here are some reasons why college credits may expire:

Curriculum changes : university curricula are constantly being updated to reflect the latest advances in various fields. As a result, university credits earned in previous programs of study may no longer be relevant or up to date.

New accreditation standards : accreditation bodies may update their standards over time, which may require educational institutions to modify their curricula. This can lead to the expiry of university credits earned in old curricula that no longer meet the new standards.

For example, STEM courses generally have a lifespan of ten years. This is because in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), progress is made regularly. Each field sees improvements, new methodologies, new discoveries and much more. So, after 10 years, you may need to retake your STEM courses because they will no longer transfer.

Changing professional requirements : professional requirements may evolve over time, making certain university credits less relevant or necessary. For example, technological advances may render certain courses in computer science or engineering obsolete.

Institutional policies : Some educational institutions may have their own policies regarding the expiry of university credits. These policies may vary depending on the institution and the type of academic credits involved.

Military service : valid, transferable credit : some schools accept military service as a valid, transferable credit. Many military-friendly colleges and universities grant credit for time spent in service.

It's important to note that expiry of university credits is relatively rare. Most educational institutions allow students to keep their credits indefinitely, provided they have been earned as part of an accredited program of study. However, it's always best to check with the educational institution for its specific policies regarding the expiry of university credits.

Consequences of expiring university credits

The expiry of university credits can have a number of negative consequences for students:

Loss of credits : expired university credits can no longer be used to meet degree or certificate requirements. This means that students may have to take additional courses to replace expired credits, which can lead to additional costs and delays.

Delayed graduation : if important university credits expire, students may have to take additional courses to replace these credits, which can delay graduation. This can have an impact on students' career plans and employment prospects.

Additional costs : students may have to pay additional fees to take replacement courses for expired university credits. This can be a significant financial burden for students, especially if they have to take several courses.

Stress and anxiety : expiring university credits can be a source of stress and anxiety for students. They may fear not being able to graduate on time or having to spend extra money on replacement courses.

Expiry of university credits: what impact on the transferability of credits ?

The expiry of university credits can have a negative impact on the transferability of credits. If university credits expire at one institution, they may not be accepted by another. This can make it difficult for students to transfer their credits and continue their studies at another institution.

Expiry of university credits: a relatively rare occurrence

It's important to note that expiry of university credits is relatively rare. Most educational institutions allow students to keep their credits indefinitely, provided they have been earned as part of an accredited program of study. However, it's always best to check with the educational institution for its specific policies regarding the expiry of university credits.

What affects a College Credit’s Transferability to another program ?

Five main factors affect whether you can transfer your college credits to another university: time, accreditation, relevance, number of credits, and GPA. 

What affects



Although college credits won’t necessarily expire in the technical sense, you won’t be always able to transfer them. This is most true in cases where your field of study experiences frequent growth, developments, and advancements. A great example is STEM, where what you learned ten years ago could be obsolete today. In this case, you’d be asked to retake a course to ensure you are up to date.

Think about innovative or critical subjects like medicine, science, or technology. A lot can change in 5-10 years, so curriculums are updated constantly. If your experience is outdated, a university might require you to take a more recent course. For these reasons, many institutions have implemented a 5-year rule or 10-year rule for college credits.


If your college credits aren’t relevant to your new prospective course of study, a university might not accept the college credit transfer. After all, any courses you’ve completed and earned credit for in one major wouldn’t do you any good in a completely unrelated field of study. For example, if your previous major was in music, how would your music credits be able to help you in your new major, accounting ?


Most universities in the US have accreditation status from one or more bodies demonstrating their reputation and credibility. To transfer your credits, you’ll likely need to have college credits that are accredited. Read more about accreditation here. 

Additionally, there may also be some cases where even if you did go to an accredited school, your credits may not transfer anyway. This is usually the case if you went to a nationally accredited college and want to go to a regionally accredited university.

Credits earned at a regionally accredited school are easily transferable to a nationally accredited institution. However, the opposite is not always true. While it’s technically possible to transfer credits you earned at a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited school, the process will involve a lot of hurdles than normal. And even then, you may run into regionally accredited schools that, by policy, simply do not accept credit transfers from nationally accredited universities.

Number of Credits

Some universities accept more college credit transfers than others. For example, one university might accept 10 transfer credits that meet other criteria, while another might have a maximum limit of 30. 


Grade Point Average (GPA) is a numerical representation of your average performance in your courses. It uses a scale from 1.0 to 4.0 to track your academic progress and assess whether you are meeting the standards and expectations set by your program of study or university.
If you just barely pass one college course, another university might not be willing to accept a transfer for that credit. This is especially true for more advanced and demanding programs. 

How to avoid expiration of college credits in the U.S. ?

There are several strategies students can adopt to avoid expiration of college credits in the U.S., including:

Completing courses on time: university credits are generally valid for a limited period of time, so it's important to complete courses on time. This may mean carefully planning your course load and making sure you have enough time to study and pass your courses.

Transferring credits : if you change educational institutions, you can transfer your credits to the new institution to prevent them from expiring. Be sure to check with the new institution to make sure it will accept your transferred credits.

Updating credits : some educational institutions allow students to update their credits by taking refresher courses or workshops. This can help you keep your knowledge and skills up to date, and prevent your credits from expiring.

Obtaining a waiver: in some cases, students can obtain a waiver for certain university credits, meaning they won't have to take them again. You can obtain an exemption by passing an exam or providing proof of relevant work experience.

to avoid expiring college credits. 

In addition, students can also contact their academic advisor or the registrar's office at their educational institution for advice and information on the institution's specific policies regarding the expiration of university credits.

Updating university credits

 Refresher courses: many educational institutions offer refresher courses that enable students to update their knowledge and skills in specific areas. These courses can be particularly useful for students who have taken a break from their studies or who wish to retrain in a new field.

 Workshops and seminars: workshops and seminars can also be an effective way of updating university credits. These intensive sessions usually focus on specific topics and can provide students with the latest information and best practices in their field.

 Competency exams: some educational institutions allow students to take competency exams for credit in areas where they already possess knowledge or skills. These exams can be a convenient way to upgrade university credits without having to take additional courses.

Transfer of university credits

 The transfer of university credits involves having credits earned at one educational institution recognized and applied at another. This enables students to continue their studies without having to repeat courses they have already taken and passed.

University credit transfer process

 The process for transferring university credits varies from institution to institution, but generally involves the following steps:

 Check transfer policies: each educational institution has its own policies and procedures regarding the transfer of credits. Students should check the transfer policies of the new institution to ensure that their credits will be accepted.

Provide official transcripts: Educational institutions generally require official transcripts from all institutions where students have taken courses. Students should request official transcripts from their previous institutions and send them to the new institution.

Filling out a transfer request form: Most educational institutions require students to fill out a transfer request form. This form usually includes information on courses taken, grades earned and previous educational institutions.

 Contact the Registrar's Office: The Registrar's Office is responsible for processing transfer credit requests. Students may contact the registrar's office at the new institution for additional information or to track the status of their application.

Factors to consider when transferring university credits

 Here are the factors to consider when transferring your university credits : 

 Accreditation: Educational institutions must be accredited by a recognized body for their credits to be transferable.

Course level
: credits earned in lower-level courses may not be transferable to higher-level institutions.

: credits must be relevant to the program of study the student is pursuing at the new institution.

: some institutions may have minimum grade requirements for credits to be transferable.

Consequences of expiring university credits

 Expiring college credits can have several consequences, including:

 Loss of Credits: expired college credits can no longer be used to meet degree or certificate requirements.

Delayed Graduation: if significant college credits expire, students may be required to take additional courses to replace those credits, which may delay their degree completion.

Additional Costs: students may be charged additional fees to take replacement courses for expired college credits.

Who Do I contact about transferring my College Credit ?

If you would like to transfer your college credit, you’ll need to get in touch with your prospective schools’ admissions offices. You’ll most likely need to ask your previous school to send them your transcript (for a fee). Once the admissions offices receive your transcripts, they’ll usually let you know how long the review will take and how they’ll let you know the results.

The best person to ask would be the transfer coordinator, so it may be a good idea to ask for their contact information.
Having a direct line to the transfer coordinator can be quite helpful as you’ll be able to ask any questions you may have. You may also petition or appeal the results in some cases.


 The expiration of college credits is an important issue for students to be aware of. By understanding your state's policies and taking steps to avoid credit expiration, you can protect your investment in higher education and achieve your academic goals.

We hope that this guide has helped you learn everything you need to know about college credit expiration. If you’re ready to start transferring yours, you can read College Monk’s guide to transferring colleges.

Recent Articles

How to get the highest possible ACT score: A complete guide

What Is a Good SAT Score?

How to Get a Scholarship in 6 Easy Steps?

Undergraduate vs Graduate: What Is the Difference?

Time Management for College Students: 8 Helpful Tips

Effective Ways To Study