What Are College Credits?

College credits measure the number of applied hours that are recognized for successful completion of a particular course of study. College credits are a way of standardizing the time spent on college level subjects. Read further for more information about college credits and why they are important to students.

Applications of College Credits

College credits are often measured by hours of lecture time per week in a classroom. Some institutions allow credits for laboratory time and some even include time spent on homework. College credits are important for measuring the cost of tuition, residency requirements and minimum degree requirements. They are also used in determining the grade-point average (GPA) of a student.

Important Facts About College Credits

Online Availability Achievable through online classes
Possible Careers Construction Manager, Elementary School Teacher, Market Research Analyst, Accountant/Auditor
Degrees Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees
College Environments Traditional classrooms and institutions; web-based distance learning; internships

College Credits and Cost for Tuition

College credits are used in calculating tuition costs. Many schools charge a cost per credit hour up to 12 credit hours. A flat tuition rate is assessed for terms in which the number of credits exceeds 12, and full-time status is achieved. In order to qualify for many federal loan and grant programs, a student may be required to carry a minimum number of credit hours, reports the U.S. Department of Education.

Alternative College Credits

Some colleges and universities award college credits for life experiences. Life-experience credits are earned by documenting experience that can be considered comparable to college-based skill building. These experiences can be professional or voluntary, and the terms associated with awarding the relevant credits vary by institution and by the type of academic program. Other credits can be earned through a challenge examination. If a student doesn't need to repeat courses presenting subject matter that has already been learned, an examination over course materials may be accepted instead of class attendance.

Transferring College Credits

College credits earned for a particular course can have different values in schools that are on a semester system from those that are on a quarter system. This factor can create problems when a student transfers from one school to another, or when an institution changes from one academic term system to another. The specific terms for accepting transferred credits are determined by each school.

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