What are Credits?

Credits can be said as a set of standards used to assess the work done and the effort put by the students for completion of a course. To know more about credits and how the credit system works read this article.

Updated by Tanuja on 8th June 2018

What are Credits?

Credits are used to access the knowledge gained by a student in a particular course. These credits are usually given at the year end or as half credit is given per course in case of the semester system.

This credit is also known as a Carnegie Unit.

For understanding credit system there are certain terminologies that you should be through with.

Credit Hours

These are the basic unit of measurement that counts for the award of any Bachelors, Masters or Associate degree.

Every degree has its own set of requirements for credit hours.

Contact Hours

It is a standard 50 minutes classroom period which can include any lecture or labs where the professor teaches the students.

Contact hours will appear only in classroom instruction activity category.

Relationship between

  • Contact and Credit hours

Students usually receive credit hours according to the number of contact hours they spend per week in class.

  • Course and Credit hours

A course hour is typically measured as per the number of credit hours. As per the amount of work given and instruction hours, a course is given certain credit. A basic course in an Undergraduate degree would be 1 or 2 Credit. As you go higher it would increase to 3 or 4 Credit.

Semester Credit Hour

One Semester Credit Hour (SCH), is equal to the 15-16 contact hours per semester.

Basically, for a one-semester credit hour course, one should attend one contact hour and two preparation hour each week.

These preparation hours can be field work, practical course or even homework.

College Credit

Here credit is also known as the college credits and it is little different than the normal credit system.

In the system, the calculation is done on the basis of how much effort the student has put in over the course of the whole semester (15 weeks)

1 college credit represents approximately 1 classroom and 2 homework hour each week.


Credits required

To earn a bachelors degree you need to earn 120 college credit. Which includes 40 classes (3 credits per class). It takes 4 years to complete it.

Source: http://www.lehman.cuny.edu

To earn a master degree you are expected to complete 36 to 54-semester credits. It takes 2 years to complete it.

To earn an associate degree you are expected to complete 60-semester credits. Generally, it takes 2 years to complete an associate degree.


This all credit system is finally used to calculate where students stand in terms of their academic performance.

By this, we calculate GPA which defines the overall academic ability of a student.

This is further used as a scale for certain college admission. Thus earning a good credit score ensures you of good university or college.