Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Can someone help me understand how credit hours & semesters work?

scottyottscottyott Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited February 2009 in College Life
I want to register for classes at my community college (full time) but I can't seem to figure out how the credit system works. I'm trying to calculate how long it will take me to graduate.

Most of the classes required for the degree are 3 credits each. Spring/Fall classes each last 7 weeks (1 quarter). Most people say 12+ credits per semester is full time. Does that translate into two 3 credit classes per quarter?

For some reason I had it in my mind that if I had 12 credits per semester I'd be taking 4 classes at a time. I guess I was wrong?

IMO I could easily handle 3 or 4 classes at a time. I have all the time in the world for homework & studying.

Am I understanding this right...its normal to only take 2 classes at a time?
Post edited by scottyott on

Replies to: Can someone help me understand how credit hours & semesters work?

  • aigiqinfaigiqinf Registered User Posts: 4,032 Senior Member
    Actually, I believe you normally need to convert from the quarter system to the semester system.
  • BP-TheGuy88BP-TheGuy88 Registered User Posts: 1,437 Senior Member
    normal amount is 4/5 classes i'd say at most schools. 4 classes at 4 credits each or 5 classes at 3 credits.

    2 classes at 4 credits is 8 credits total so that's not full time.

    i'm not sure how the conversion works from quarter to semester systems.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,173 Senior Member
    The "full-time" designation is for financial aid and tax and insurance purposes and stuff like that. Then there's a "normal course load". The normal course load is what students have to take every semester in order to graduate on time (2 years for an Associate's degree or 4 years for a Bachelor). Usually the full-time course load is 12 semester-credits and the normal course load is 16 semester-credits.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,173 Senior Member
    And by the way: if you feel like you can handle more than whatever the normal course load is, feel free to enroll in more classes! There's no reason to postpone graduation just because a website thinks you are not smart enough to handle more classes.
  • BigGBigG Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    In general, and there are exceptions, there are two academic "calendars" in use in the US; the Quarter and the Semester.

    The Quarter system: The year is divided into 4 quarters; Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. A "traditional" full time student schedule is 3 to 5 classes for each of three quarters with Summer being taken off. Some students take classes in the Summer to graduate sooner.
    The "hours" taken refer to actual time spent in class each week. A Western Civilization course that meets 3 times a week for about one hour each meetng is typically a 3 credit hour course. General Chemistry that meets 3 times for lecture and has a three hour lab typically counts as 4 quarter hours.A Calculus course that meets 5 times a week for about an hour is counted as 5 quarter hours. Thus if you took Western Civ, Chemistry and Calculus you would be taking 12 credit hours. This is a light but full time course load most places.
    Many institutions offer longer but less frequent class sessions to facilitate scheduling for working students. A five credit hour course might meet only twice a week for 2 or so hours each meeting. The assumption is that less frequent, but longer classes are more efficient due to reduced administrative overhead during class.

    The Semester: There are two of these in a traditional school year; Fall and Spring. There may be special summer sessions at semester system institutions.
    The credit hours are still based on the number of hours a week you attend class. The difference is that you attend a course for more weeks. Thus a semester "hour" counts more toward graduation than a quarter "hour". Generally 8 Semester hours equal 12 quarter hours.

    Typical Example; A full year of General Chemistry (needed for Med School!) requires 3 hours of lecture a week and a 3 hour lab (no bonus hours for danger, lab hours count less than lecture hours). In the semester system this is divided into two 4 hour courses for a total of 8 semester hours. In the quarter system you take 3 four hour courses for a total of 12 quarter hours to cover the same amount of material. The 2 semester and 3 quarter courses are equivalent for graduation, application to graduate/professional school, etc.

    As always, institution requirements are definitive. You do what your school says to graduate, just like in high school but with more choices (and fun!).

    I hope this is helpful. My DD firmly believes there is a picture of me in the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary next to the word "pedantic".
This discussion has been closed.