Do College Credits Expire? College Credit Guide 2022

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

TCM Staff

22nd December 2021

When you achieve one or more college credits, it’s a rewarding feeling! It’s a demonstration of your prowess and dedication to a certain subject in your field. College credits also have utility in the way that they lead you to a degree and can be used to pursue other degrees of study, in certain scenarios. 

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But life happens, and many students might take a break from school or otherwise be interrupted from their studies. In cases like that, how long can a student hold onto their credits? Do college credits expire? If so, when do college credits expire? 

Today, we’ll help you understand whether there’s a 5-year rule for college credits, and answer questions about your college credit transfer ability, like “how long do university credits last,” and “do college credits expire after 10 years?”

Let’s get started!

How Long Do College Credits Last?

Can college credits expire? Most of the time, college credits last indefinitely if they come from an accredited institution. That means they’ll still be valid, even after 5 or 10 years. However, just because a college credit lasts in validity over the years, that doesn’t mean it’s eligible for transfer to any other institution or degree program. The thing is, every university has its own college credit transfer policy, influenced by several factors. Curious about college credits and what they entail? Check out our article that discusses, what are college 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. 

Time: If too much time has passed, you might still have the documentation and validity of a college credit to demonstrate your experience in a certain subject; however, some schools might not accept it as a contributing credit to a new program if too much time has passed. 

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 If your experience is outdated, a university might require you to take a more recent course.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.

Relevance: If your college credits aren’t relevant to your new prospective course of study, a university might not accept the college credit transfer. General education courses might be more easily transferable for electives, but usually, your college credits should be somewhat related to your new degree program to necessitate a transfer. 

Accreditation: 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. 

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. 

GPA: 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 Do I Know If My College Credits Are Transferable?

The best way to know if your college credits are transferable is to check each university’s college transfer policy. 

How Long Do Colleges Keep Transcripts?

If you’re thinking about applying for a degree program 10, 20, or 30 years after your last stint in university, don’t worry. Colleges are obligated to keep your transcript permanent record for many years as decided by each state government. Some states demand a 60-year recordkeeping period, while others have implemented one for 100 years. Keep in mind, though, that if your transcript is decades old, you might have to wait a while longer to get them. 

Temporary records are much faster and easier to obtain. Either way, you can expect to pay a fee anywhere from $15-$100 to obtain your college transcript. 


Do college credits expire? How long are college credits good for? While most college credits don’t expire, they do have a shelf life when it comes to transferring to another program after some time has passed. 

How long do my college credits last? That depends on what your plans are, and where you’d like to go to school. To transfer college credits, make sure you research the transfer policies of the universities you’re interested in attending. 

For more information about college transfers, check out our article about How to Write a College Transfer Application


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