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How many credits to take in grad school?

chimi42chimi42 Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
I'm used to taking 15-17 credits per semester and my current choices for grad school tell me that i should take about 9, 12 at the most. Is this normal? Even if i take the 12 per semester i can finish a semester early and save myself a good chunk of money.
Post edited by chimi42 on

Replies to: How many credits to take in grad school?

  • EvoViroEvoViro Registered User Posts: 119 Junior Member
    In the future, it helps if you give us more info so we don't have to dig through your old posts to know what program you are referring to.

    For a credit-based Masters, yes, 9-12 credits is normal. Speaking from my own experiences in the sciences, a 3-unit graduate class is equivalent to a 4-5 unit undergrad class in terms of work load. Before making any major decisions about graduating early, I would talk to several current students in the programs. If actual students tell you 9 is reasonable and 12 is the limit, then listen to them.

    I presume you are using this program as an investment in your future. If so, don't be too caught up on saving a bit of money that you rush through your education without properly absorbing the knowledge you're paying for. The more classes you try to cram in each semester, the less well you learn from each one. From my uninformed end, I would say don't try to finish more than that one semester ahead.
  • Professor XProfessor X Registered User Posts: 893 Member
    Your DGS may not let you do this. I sure wouldn't.
  • tenisghstenisghs Registered User Posts: 3,955 Senior Member
    I know this is an old thread, but has anyone taken 15 credits (5 courses) in a semester at the graduate level? Is it manageable?
  • belevittbelevitt Registered User Posts: 2,005 Senior Member
    Credits are not all created equal. I have a one credit class that makes a strong recommendation about showing up but requires nothing else at all. I have a "continuation" credit that is an administrative marker. I have a three credit class that requires two hours a week worth of class time and no outside work and another three credit class that requires a conservative 10 hours a week of outside work and six hours in class.
  • StrangeLightStrangeLight Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    i'd say 5 graduate courses in one semester is not even remotely manageable. you will not have time to complete your coursework, let alone work on your own research.

    at the moment, i'm taking 10.5 credits of coursework. 3 seminars, each worth 3 credits, all with heavy reading loads, presentations, and writing. and then i'm taking a 1.5 credit independent study that is just reading and discussion. on top of that, i'm trying to pull together research for my own masters thesis.

    on average, not including my own research, i have around 60-70 hours of coursework each week (if i read something carefully and take note, i can cover 20 pages an hour). that's about 10 hrs/day of work, and that doesn't take into account my masters thesis stuff, going grocery shopping, doing laundry, cooking meals, commuting (i can't read on the bus), and all the other time-consuming parts of life you can't ignore.

    the result has been that my own work has been put on the back-burner and i pull at least one all-nighter every week just to keep up. my advisor acknowledged it was a heavy courseload and we're scaling back next semester so i can devote some time to my thesis, but every professor or grad student that learns my schedule always responds with "that's way too much." and they're right.

    so... based on my experience with 3 and a half classes, individual research, and no teaching requirements, i'd say that 5 grad courses would probably kill you. i work pretty hard and fairly efficiently and i'm burnt out.
  • tenisghstenisghs Registered User Posts: 3,955 Senior Member
    ^ Strangelight, I'm not working on a master's thesis. I'm in a professional master's program. The average courseload in my program is 12 credits (~4 courses).
  • gthopefulgthopeful Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    It's really going to depend on the school, but 3-4 is considered full time.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,672 Super Moderator
    5 graduate courses is death. I'm in a doctoral program now and I take 4 courses a semester, because the rigors of my program requires 1) that we take 60 points (or 20 courses) and 2) that we finish these 60 points within 3 years. Also, normal degree progression requires me to finish the courses in 2 and a half years, thus, 4 courses per semester (roughly 12 points - some classes have an extra credit and I get points for doing various other things so I might get away with taking fewer classes in my final two semesters).

    And even THAT is too much. The students have been complaining about the heavy courseload design of this program for a while. I don't have to TA, so that's a lifesaver, but if I had to TA I would never be able to get anything done. And I WANT to TA, but I can't because the courseload would be too rough. I'm trying currently to see if I could get credit for TAing instead of a class.

    I also don't know of any grad program, professional or not, that requires its students to take 5 courses a semester just to keep up. The MPH program here effectively requires 4 courses per semester (students need 45 points to graduate and that usually is about 4 courses a semester depending upon what other for-credit opportunities they have, including their theses and practica). Theoretically a student could take 15 points a semester and graduate in 3, but I haven't heard of or met anyone who has ever done that.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Presumably, you attend for the knowledge set, not for the degree by itself. Rushing through means that you won't be able to seriously attend to the material. You might get the degree, but you'll be less likely to retain what you've learned.

    As for saving money, I thought most credit-based master's programs charged by the credit, not by the semester, so taking extra courses crammed into fewer months doesn't really save anything other than time. And surely that time will be miserably difficult.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,483 Senior Member
    Universities consider 12 credits for undergrads to be fulltime and 9 credits in grad school are fulltime. Grad school students often have funding jobs- teaching/research on top of those credits as well. Taking 12 credits per semeste rwould take 10, not 8 semesters to get 120 credits for an undergrad degree. By this logic taking more than 9 credits per semester seems to be needed to finish required grad coursework in a timely fashion. Also 18 undergrad credits is the most some schools allow without paying extra for undergrads, using this logic 50% more credits, or 14 credits would be an extreme grad school load. The 9-12 credits recommendation is logical.

    Definitely pay attention to the above posters who talk about not rushing. The knowledge gained is why you are there, not just a piece of paper.
  • gthopefulgthopeful Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    Presumably, you attend for the knowledge set, not for the degree by itself. Rushing through means that you won't be able to seriously attend to the material. You might get the degree, but you'll be less likely to retain what you've learned.

    I don't attend school for the knowledge I gain in the classroom (though perhaps you were talking about MS candidates). This is why I have been taking 3-4 classes a semester on top of being a full-time research assistant so that I can complete my coursework as fast as possible and work on research full-time. Frankly, I'm doing poorly in my classes because of this load, but I know that a 3.5 won't matter too much as compared to maybe the 3.8 I would have if I had taken it slow.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,483 Senior Member
    Why aren't you in it for the knowledge? You will find those that got the A's learned more and will have an easier time of it taking the more advanced classes. Grad school is not about being a "jack of all trades and master of none". However, just focussing on one area through your research will leave many gaps in your knowledge in your field. You will have to pass qualifiers in more than just your research field so take the time now to learn the material. Skipping the less interesting material in favor of doing what you are most interested in will hurt you in the long run. You need to be building a good foundation- that is why they have the requirements in schools. Undergrad life is too soon to superspecialize. It is no fun to learn all of the material presented but it does make it easier later on. Despite the fact that you are doing research it is at the undergrad level and expectations are not as high as for a grad student. You may be shocked at your poor knowledge base when the bar is set for the grad level. Of course if the nonA's are in fields other than your major and B's then it is good to have pushed yourself. Final thought- do you want to be well educated, or even consider yourself educated? Or are you in it for the job? You lead a much richer life if you take advantage of opportunities when you have them. You will never again get the chance to learn so much about so many different areas as you do as an undergrad. Years later the money spent now or the short extra year of your life spent won't matter but the lost opportunities can't be retrieved.
  • tenisghstenisghs Registered User Posts: 3,955 Senior Member
    ^ I see school as trying to absorb as much material as possible. That's why taking 12-15 credits may sound demanding, but it is manageable. Plus, you get exposure to new ideas and perspectives.

    I definitely graduated from undergrad with more credits than necessary. It was well worth it.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,483 Senior Member
    Business/professional school is different than other post graduate schooling.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Taking more undergraduate credit than is necessary is one thing. Taking 6-8 extra credits in graduate is quite another.

    In graduate school, you are expected to use courses as springboards to more in-depth research/knowledge on your own. Many students make the mistake of believing grad school is merely a couple more years of undergraduate work, only more advanced. The type of learning and the expectations are entirely different.
This discussion has been closed.