How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (2024)

The amount of credits needed to graduate from college varies by degree level. You will typically need to earn 60 credits for an associate degree, 120 credits for a bachelor's degree and 30-60 credits for a master's degree.

Ashley Wallis

Find Your Degree

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (1)

Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

The number of credits needed to graduate from college depends on what degree you want to earn. Each degree has a different credit requirement, takes a different length of time to complete and presents different opportunities for the focus of study and career advancement.

There are a lot of things to consider when earning your college degree. For example:

  • Are you concerned about the overall cost?
  • Do you have any credits you can transfer?
  • Is the time it takes to earn a degree a primary factor?

When deciding on which degree you should earn, having a solid understanding of your options will help you choose what’s best for you.

How Many Credits Do You Need for an Associate Degree?

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (2)An associate degreeis one of the first levels of higher education you can pursue. Some people will earn the degree to gain access to entry-level professional positions, while others use it as a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree.

Associate degrees are usually 60 credits or around 20 courses. This degree usually takes two years to completeif you're a full-time student. You can also take classes part-time, if your financial aid allows, which will extend the time it takes to graduate.

If you've attended college in the past or have relevant work or life experience, you may already have a portion of the 60 credits completed. A college admission counselor or academic advisor can help you determine if any of your prior experiences can count toward your degree.

Courses in an associate degree program are focused on general education, as well as more specific knowledge if you’re studying to enter a particular field.

For example, an Associate of Arts in Liberal Artsprovides a broader academic base than an Associate of Science in Accounting, which will have courses specifically chosen to prepare you for working in a financial department or an accounting position.

What is the Purpose of the General Education Courses in an Associate Degree Program?

Whether general or career-specific, you’ll still need around 60 credits to graduate with an associate degree, and a portion of those credits will relate to general education.

General education courses are important because they can:

  • Connect you with people from diverse disciplines
  • Help you become well-versed in a variety of disciplines
  • Reshape your outlook on learning
  • Teach you soft skills desired by employers

The 60 credits you earn from an associate degree program can be transferred to a bachelor's degree, drastically reducing the time it takes to complete a bachelor's program.

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Bachelor's Degree?

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (3)A bachelor’s degreemay be your education goal from the start or the follow-up to an associate degree you’ve already earned (note: you do not need an associate degree to earn a bachelor's degree). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined many career fields, especially competitive fields, such as those in the information technology (IT) field, require a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, BLS found 179 occupations that have an entry-level education of a bachelor's degree.

A bachelor’s degree is 120 credits, which is around 40 courses. Typically, earning a bachelor’s degree takes four years, but depending on your previous education and whether you’re a full- or part-time student, it may be a shorter or longer length of time.

How Can I Earn My Bachelor's Degree in 3 Years?

You can potentially get your bachelor's degree faster— in three years or less. Transferring earned credits from courses you've previously completed, such as those in your associate program, can help you reach graduation day sooner. Some colleges also offer college credit for military experience and certifications, and you may be able to test out of classes as well.

Bachelor’s degree programs are designed to prepare you to enter a particular field. Some bachelor’s programs offer you the additional option of studying in a specific concentration. Degree concentrations are specializations within a field of study. For example, if you’re earning a bachelor’s in psychology, you can concentrate on topics like addiction, mental health or child and adolescent development.

Similar to a concentration, an academic minoris a way to specialize in an area outside of your major. Adding a minoror concentration to your bachelor’s degree allows you to learn more specifically about the area in which you’re aiming to have a career.

If you've completed your bachelor's degree and are still looking to expand your knowledge, a master's degree could be your next step.

Find Your Program

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Master's Degree?

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (4)If you’re looking for upward mobility in your career field, earning a master’s degreecan be helpful when it comes time to ask for a raise or promotion. Some employers may offer to help with tuition as an employment benefit in order to retain valuable employees.

Usually, a master's degree, which comes after a bachelor's degree, will take 1-2 years of full-time studyto complete. But the time it takes depends on a few factors, including your pacing and field of study.

Most master's degree programs require 30-60 credits. For example, a Master of Science in Psychologyat Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is 36 credits, while a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writingis 48 credits.

Unlike associate and bachelor's degree programs, which often have general education requirements, most master's degree classes focus on topics within your field of study. While some of the classes will be predetermined, you might be able to choose from a list of electives. Your curriculum might require you to complete a capstone projector thesis assignment at the end of your program, serving as a culmination of all you've learned.

You can consider taking asynchronous classesonline if you want the flexibility to simultaneously advance your career and education. With five term starts per year at SNHU, you might not have to wait as long to get to work on your classes, either. And just because classes are online on your own time doesn't mean there aren't resources such as tutors and a virtual library available around the clock.

If you're not sure you want a master's degree, you can always begin with a graduate certificate. A graduate certificate is beneficialif you want to advance your knowledge in a particular area in a shorter amount of time. While the number of credits you need to complete a college certificate can vary, between 12 and 21 credits is typical.

And, at the end of the program, you may be able to transfer the credits you earned into a master's degree, if you'd like to continue your studies.

Can You Transfer Credits Into a Degree Program?

If you've taken college courses before, you may be able to transfer those earned creditsinto a new degree program. For example, at SNHU, you can transfer up to 45 credits toward an associate degree, 90 credits toward a bachelor's and 12 credits toward a master's.

How Can You Transfer to SNHU?

Could you have up to 75% of your program done by the time you start at SNHU? Here's how you can find out:

  1. Complete the free 5-minute online application. There’s no obligation after filling it out.
  2. Get your transcripts requested — for free. Chat with an admission counselor, and we'll request your transcripts on your behalf.
  3. Receive your free evaluation. Soon after all your transcripts are in, you'll get your official evaluation. It will show you what was transferred in — and what classes you need to complete.

You could even have credits from certifications or prior experiencesthat are transferrable into a degree program.

For example:

  • Microsoft offers a 365 fundamentals exam, and if you receive a qualifying score, it could count toward your transferrable credits at SNHU
  • Advanced Placement (AP) exams and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) are other common exam-to-college credit opportunities available to move you closer to your degree
  • If you're in the military, your education could transfer your military education to college credits
  • And if you have any certifications, such as CompTIA or Amazon Web Services (AWS), you may be able to receive credits for them

Bring up any prior experiences with an admission counselor to see if you have credits available to transfer.

Earn Credit Toward a Successful Future

BLS keeps track of weekly earnings and unemployment rates compared to education levels. Year after year, BLS has found higher education attainment has led to higher weekly wages and lower unemployment rates.*

Whether you're just getting started or ready to finish your degree, you can connect with your academic advisor at any time to discuss your course schedule and how you're progressing through your program's required credits.

While education takes commitment, time and money, earning a degree at any level can be advantageous for you and your career.

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU online degreethat can best help you meet your goals.

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.

Ashley Wallis '16 is an Army veteran and writer with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently living in the Denver area.

Explore more content like this article

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (5)

Is a Doctorate Degree Worth It?


There are many personal and professional reasons to spend the time, money and perseverance toward earning a doctorate. Such an advanced degree can lead to professional opportunities for advancement in a variety of careers while setting a positive example of perseverance for family members.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (6)

Is a Bachelor's Degree Worth It?


If you're thinking about getting your bachelor's degree, you may weigh the pros and cons to decide what's the best decision for you. Whether you're an adult learner or just starting your educational journey, understanding your options can help you determine if a bachelor's degree is worth it.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (7)

Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?


A master's degree is an in-demand credential that can give you a leg up when applying for promotions or leadership roles. But with the time and money it takes to complete a program, is a master's degree worth it? Explore the benefits of a graduate degree and what to consider before applying.

About Southern New Hampshire University

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (8)

SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHUpage to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? (2024)


How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College? ›

Generally, a bachelor's degree will require a minimum of 120 credits, an associate degree will require at least 60 credits, and a master's degree will require anywhere from 30 to 60 credits.

Is 120 credits enough? ›

You will typically need to earn 60 credits for an associate degree, 120 credits for a bachelor's degree and 30-60 credits for a master's degree.

How many credits do most colleges require to graduate? ›

A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution requires at least 120 credits. Some colleges require more. For example, a national survey of credit requirements found that 10% of programs require 124 credits, while 15% require 128 credits.

How many years are 72 credit hours? ›

Some programs involve as many as 72 credit hours. It's possible to complete a 34-credit Master of Applied Data Science degree in as little as twelve months. A 72-credit Master of Business Administration (MBA), on the other hand, will likely take two to three years for full-time students.

How long is 36 credits in college? ›

If you are enrolled as a full-time student in a 36-credit degree program and you are taking 12 credits per semester, you can expect to complete your degree in three semesters. Students studying part-time, earning only eight credits per semester to start, would be earning their degree for over four semesters.

Is 64 credits a lot? ›

Typically, in order to graduate with a degree, universities expect students to complete: 120-130 credit hours for a Bachelor's degree. 30-64 credit hours for a Master's degree.

What is 60 credits equivalent to? ›

Associate Degree Credit Hours

According to the U.S. Department of Education, most American colleges and universities award college credit by the semester hour. In order to receive an associate degree, you must earn at least 60 credits, which typically can be fulfilled by completing 20 three-credit courses.

Can you graduate without a major? ›

Can you graduate with an undecided major? The short answer is no. Eventually, you will have to declare a major and fulfill its requirements in order to graduate. But schools are flexible and becoming more and more encouraging of taking your time.

How many years is 60 credit hours? ›

A two –year program equals approximately 60 credits; a four-year baccalaureate equals approximately 120 credits.

Can you graduate with less than 120 credits? ›

Generally, a bachelor's degree will require a minimum of 120 credits, an associate degree will require at least 60 credits, and a master's degree will require anywhere from 30 to 60 credits. Typically, a school's accreditation body will determine minimum credit requirements for a degree program.

What degree is 4 years of college? ›

Bachelor's or Baccalaureate Degree

Bachelor's degrees require students to complete four- or five-year programs in a specific academic discipline. The two most common types of bachelor's degrees are bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS).

Is 60 credits 2 years? ›

It typically takes about two years to earn sixty credit hours of courses if you have not completed any prior college courses. It takes about four years to earn 120 credit hours.

How long is 3 semesters in college? ›

Typically, colleges and universities offer three semesters during each academic year: Fall semester – 15 weeks. Spring semester – 15 weeks. Summer semester – 12 weeks.

How long is a master's? ›

Most master's degree programs will take an average of two years from start to finish — about half of the time it takes to earn your bachelor's degree.

Is 18 college credits a lot? ›

A typical course load for many students is 15 credits per semester. Colleges and universities recommend this amount if students aim to graduate in four years with a bachelor's degree. In the cases where students want to or need to take on more, they can reach up to 18 credits, equaling six three-credit courses.

How many years is a master's? ›

The average master's degree takes up to 2 years to earn, with most taking between 13–18 months. However, averages don't always give you an accurate view of how many years it will take you to earn your master's degree.

Is 120 credits a lot for college? ›

Most bachelor's degree programs require 120 college credits. At a four-year institution granting an average of three credits per class, that's five classes per semester. Many institutions require more than 120 credit hours to graduate, with some programs exceeding 140 total credit hours.

What is 120 credits equivalent to? ›

The Level 3 Course is a 120 credit course, which is equivalent to 2 A levels. The course is made up of 6 modules and 6 written assignments. This course provides entry onto the first year of Undergraduate Degree course, or a Level 4 course.

What does 120 credits equate to? ›

For example to gain an undergraduate (Bachelor's) degree you would need to successfully complete 120 credits at level 4, 120 credits at level 5 and 120 credits at Level 6. Credits roughly represent the number of hours of learning that have been or need to be undertaken; 1 credit roughly equals10 hours.

What is 120 credits equivalent to us? ›

A credit hour is a measure of workload at a college or university it is (roughly) equivalent to spending 1 hour per week in class for one term (usually a semester). To graduate typical requires 120 credit hours, which is 8 semesters (4 years) * 5 classes * 3 units (credit hours) per class.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated:

Views: 6357

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.