How many hours is 4 college credits?

College credits are the number of applied hours that recognize the successful completion of a course of study. College credits are calculated based on the hours of lectures conducted per week in a classroom. In simple words, the credit equals the number of hours spent in the class every week. Therefore, they are significant in calculating the student’s grade point average (GPA). College credit hours are also necessary for eligibility in federal financial aid schemes. Let us know How many hours is 4 college credits?

How many hours is 4 college credits?

Credits differ from college to college, course to course. A simple answer to your question would be that four college credits mean you attend lectures about that course for 4 hours every week.

Assigning Credits

Generally, every credit equals 15-16 hours of classroom learning. It means that four college credits will be 15 x 4 = 60 hours/ 16 x 4 = 64 hours. Credit hours are calculated for the whole semester. Other colleges calculate credits on the basis of both classroom and additional learning (laboratory, homework, assignments etc.).

They assign one credit score to classes and two credit scores for out-of-classroom learning. Since every semester has 3 credit hours, the total credit hours become 60 x 3 = 180 credit hours approximately. This is explained in detail below.

How To Calculate College Credits?

Generally, a college calculates a student’s credit simply based on the number of classroom hours. A more comprehensive way of calculating credits is adding the number of hours dedicated to academics outside the classroom. To be deemed a full-time university student, the individual needs to obtain at least 12 college credits in a semester.

Every semester is of 15-16 weeks i.e., 4 months. 4 college credits would mean that 1-hour classes for that particular course are held 4 times a week. So total hours spent in the classroom for that course would be 15 x 4 = 60 hours/16 x 4 = 64 hours. 

Apart from this, if we add the extra time taken by the students for completing homework, assignments, preparing for tests, doing laboratory work, doing internships etc, the total number of hours a student dedicates to academics increases.

For every one hour of classroom teaching, a student uses at least 2 hours for other academic commitments. This translates to 1 credit for the classroom lectures and 2 credits for outside the classroom work. 1+2 = 3 total credits for every course per semester. 60 hours of classroom teaching + 120 hours of extra work would mean a total of 180 hours for every semester. 

Semester Vs. Quarter Credit Hours 

Colleges in the United States of America generally follow the semester system. Two academic semesters comprise an academic year. The first semester is known as the fall semester, the second one is known as the spring semester. Each semester is 15 week long. Every student needs to take 12 credit hours’ worth of lessons each semester. Here, we need to understand the difference between credit hours and contact hours.

There are 180 contact hours in 12 credit hours. As we stated above, contact hours included the classroom teaching-learning hours and additional academic work hours. Students generally spend around 15 hours in college classrooms in a week for a 12-credit course.

However, there are some colleges that follow the quarterly system in an academic year. In other words, they have 10 week quarters in one academic year. Since, the duration is shorter, students generally have to spend 18 hours in the classroom per week to accommodate the 180 contact hours in the academic year. 

How Many Credit Hours Are There Each Year?

The quintessential credit requirements for a college academic year are as follows:

  1. A student needs to complete 00-30 credit hours in the First year.
  2. A student needs to complete 31-60 credit hours in the sophomore year.
  3. A student needs to complete 61-90 credit hours in the junior year.
  4. A student needs to complete 91-120 credit hours in the senior year. 

It should not be taken as the standard model because each college has different rules about credit hours. Therefore, before applying to a college and selecting your course, do not forget to research the credit hours system that the particular college follows.


Initially, calculating college credits may seem like an easy idea, but it is a slightly tricky concept. Let us decode it step by step. College credits are based on the amount of work that a student does. A student earns credits for every class he/she takes. Accumulating sufficient credits to complete the course/degree should be the objective of each student.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How To Calculate GPA From College Credits?

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. To calculate your GPA you need to apply this formula. 

GPA = (Grades x Credits)/Credits

However, GPA systems vary across colleges and you need to be careful while calculating your GPA. Research about the GPA pattern your college follows. 

2. How Many Minimum Credits Are Required To Graduate?

To graduate with an undergraduate degree, you need at least 120 credits. Similarly, for an associate’s degree, you need to have 60 credits and for a master’s degree, you need to have approximately 30-60 course credits. In the master’s degree, your bachelor’s credits are added thus making the total credits around 150-160. 

3. Do Full-Time Students And Part-Time Students Have Different Credit Hours?

Yes, full-time students and part-time students do have different credit hours. To be a full-time student, you need to have equal or more than 12 credit hours per semester. If a student takes less than 12 credit hours worth of courses, he/she is considered a part-time student. There is also a category of half-time students. Half-time students take approximately 6-12 credit hours per semester. 

4. What Is The Difference Between A Credit Hour And A Unit?

The basic difference between a credit hour and a unit is that credit hours are generally universal across universities and colleges. However, a unit varies from college to college. Every college has a unique system but occasionally, a credit hour can be used interchangeably with a unit.