College course load

Many colleges’ students typically have 4~5 courses per semester. However, many other colleges’ students have to take 6+ courses per semester. Why is this the case?

Depends on the school, the major, the amount of credits, etc…

My D is taking 6 courses this semester (chem e major) but one is mandatory co-op seminar that has no exams and just required attendance and a presentation.

Not something to stress about.

Schools set their own policies regarding course credits and requirements. DD is currently attending a college where every course is 1 credit (an additional .25 credit for a lab) and every student takes 4-4.5 credits per semester

When there are large numbers of courses, that typically means that each course is “smaller” (less credit, less content, less work per week), or what may be a single course elsewhere is broken up into its components (e.g. instead of a 4 credit general chemistry with lab course, there may be a 3 credit general chemistry without lab and a 1 credit lab).

I’d look at “credit hours”/“units”/etc. My D has had semesters with 1 credit seminars, 2 separate courses for lecture and lab, etc. Her actual “number” of courses has ranged from 5 to 7, but the credits/hours/workload is pretty constant.

It depends on HOW course credits are calculated.

Some schools (like USC and Stanford) calculate courses on the basis of semester or quarter hours, where each class is assigned a different amount of credits based on the amount of in-class time expected (for example, an english class might be 3 credits, but a science class with a lab would be 3 credits for the lecture and an extra credit for the lab portion.) Schools differ on what a semester hour means, but it usually refers to at least 50 minutes of in-class time every week per credit.

Others (like Brown, where I’m going, Duke, Northwestern etc.) calculate courses on the basis of “course credits,” which means that every 1 course is counted as being 1 course credit. However, schools differ on whether or lab sections are counted in this 1 course credit, and will have a separate .5 or .33 credit lab section that you will register for. The advantage or disadvantage of this system is that every class is assumed to be the same amount of time and will have the same weight towards your GPA, while at other schools, an English class would be less time (3 vs. 4 credits) and have a smaller impact on your GPA than a science class with a lab. The schools that do this also have to have every class meet the amount of hours necessary to merit that one course credit (at Brown, it’s 1 course credit=4 semester hours,) so an english class at Brown would have more work time-wise than an english class that is 3 credits at another school because the class at Brown HAS to be the equivalent work of 4, not 3, semester hours.

Hope that helps!

Thank you all for clarifying that for me. This really helps my understanding towards the credit system.