How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College?

by Morgan T. Rogers

Whether you’re getting ready to apply to colleges or you already have a few classes under your belt, understanding what it takes to complete your degree can be as daunting as it is exciting. For example, how many credits do you need to graduate college?

This is an important question, and preparing early is a good idea. By having a plan for how you’ll complete the required credits—also known as units—you’ll be able to graduate on time and know what to expect each year.

What Are College Credits?

College credits are a unit of measurement that accredited colleges and universities use to communicate how much time you’ve put into your degree. Federal guidelines define a credit hour as roughly one hour of classroom learning plus two hours of independent work per week for a semester. The number of credits you earn indicates the extent of education you receive and plays a part in facilitating transfer and financial aid processes.

At Azusa Pacific University, college credits are identified as units. So, if you take a 3-unit class, you can assume you’ll spend three hours in the classroom each week plus an additional six hours on your own.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College?

For a bachelor’s degree program, you can expect to complete a minimum of 120 units before earning your degree. But it also depends on the college you attend and the individual degree program. Some programs, like nursing or engineering, may require additional units.

It’s also worth noting that not all of the 120 units go toward your major. A good portion of them will go toward your general education, which is a required part of completing your degree. If you have a minor, this will add more units to your completion time.

Can You Transfer Units to a Different College?

One of the benefits of the college credit system is that it makes the transfer process easier for students. Say you complete 40 units at a community college and then transfer to a university. Knowing how many units you’ve already completed can give you a clear picture of your path to graduation.

Keep in mind that not all units are transferable to every college. The type of class and whether or not there’s a comparable course at the college you’re transferring to may affect whether your units are accepted. To determine which units are transferable to a specific institution, contact the school’s enrollment office.

Connect with Support for More Information and Guidance

If you’re unsure how many units you have or how many are required for your degree, your academic advisor at your current college can break it down for you. For a quick glimpse at programs at other schools and how many units are required to complete them, you can typically find information on the school’s website or in its college catalog. Knowing this information can help you identify the right college for your transfer journey.

To learn more about how many credits you need to graduate college or for more information about transferring to APU, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.