Do College Credits Expire?

Are you wondering if your college credits will ever expire? Get your answer in this article which details on colleges credits and more.

Updated by TCM Staff on 15th October 2020

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

Core classes are always in demand. If you are planning to return to complete your undergraduate course, most conventional types of transferring happen quickly between the schools. The typical classes 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, classes that 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 of ten years.

Most of you people who are planning to change college in the mid-year or finish the incomplete education after a few years 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 are College Credits?

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 15 weeks or one semester and also has participated in around 2 hours of out-of-classroom work, which may be homework, labs, projects, and more. Hence, most of your core classes are worth three credits, because they usually meet three times a week, or twice a week for 90 minutes and have equal out-of-class assignments.

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

For online colleges, credits calculate 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 concerning the class.

Beware of the following.

  • The credits in subjects like Math, History, Art, and English, which 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 might 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 concerning knowledge and skills before giving you credit for past studies in it.

  • If you are planning to study in a science specialty stream that teaches a lot of math, you may have to make a move and re-take single or multiple courses in this specialty 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 challenging to transfer credits from a non-accredited institution. You may also have to be prepared to take complete care of the quality of your loans 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 essential 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 consider 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 eight years depending upon the college.

The credits can not transfers 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 transfer?

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

Maximum credits that can transfers depends on the format of the credit system used at your colleges, both new and previous ones. 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 expects to be given. So here is a template of the letter if you need 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

I am thanking you in advance for your immediate assistance.

Yours sincerely


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