Typical college semesters last a total of 15 or 16 weeks, though there are a variety of accelerated courses and semesters that are faster. Each class that you take is measured in terms of “credit hours”, which approximately translate to the amount of time you spend in that class each week. In a typically scheduled course, you will meet for one hour a week per credit hour. In an accelerated program that takes eight weeks to complete, you will meet for approximately two hours a week. The majority of typically scheduled undergraduate classes total three credit hours. These meet for three hours a week and earning a passing grade award you three credits towards the completion of your degree. For undergraduate students, bachelor degrees usually require the completion of 120 credits, and associate degrees usually require the completion of 60 credits. For graduate students, master degrees usually require the completion of 36 to 54 credits, while doctoral degrees usually require the completion of 90 to 120 credits and a dissertation. Students are usually required to take a minimum of 12 credits to be classified as a full-time student, and a maximum of 18-credits. Students are usually expected to take an average of 15 credit hours per semester, which meet for 16 weeks, which comes out to 240 hours spent in the classroom in an average semester. There are a variety of accelerated degree programs that let students take a double course load, which allows them to graduate in half of the usual time frame.
If you are worried about the time commitment that a college degree requires, you might consider earning an online degree, which gives students a large amount of schedule flexibility. Some aspects of a physical classroom experience cannot be replicated digitally, depending on the academic subject. For example, science majors studying online will not be able to do the same kind of lab work as students at a brick and mortar school. If you are unsure about whether or not an online program is right for you, be sure to check out our article that discusses the Pros and Cons of Online College and University Programs. Online programs are designed to allow students to juggle other life responsibilities, like work and family, while earning credits towards a college degree. If you are looking for an accelerated online program that will allow you maximum schedule flexibility while earning a degree in a shorter time frame, have a look at our list of the Top 35 Fastest Online College Programs. The schedule flexibility of an online course requires students to be self-motivated as they will complete classwork on their own time. Accelerated degree programs require students to have great time management skills, as the condensed credit schedule will be extra demanding during the semester. If you are worried about translating your time management skills into the format of an online college format, be sure to check our guide of the 15 Top Tips To Make A Personal Schedule for Online College.