how many credits to graduate

Understanding how many credits you will need to graduate is essential for planning your next several years in school. However, it could prove difficult scouring the internet to aggregate costs and credit requirements from different universities. However, you are in the right place.

Read along to investigate the needed credits to graduate college in four years and required units to attain a master’s at five of the top colleges in the United States. We will cover each institution’s tuition fees and a bit of information about each university.

Keep in mind that universities will regularly update their tuition prices and policies. Therefore, ensure you bookmark the links that we have attached throughout the article to remain up-to-date.

How Many Credits Does It Take to Get a College Degree?

credits required to graduate college

First, you need to have an idea of what major you want to pursue. Your degree program will determine how many credits you will need to graduate college.

In most colleges, you will need 60 credits for an associate’s degree. In comparison, a bachelor’s degree demands 120 credits. Information as to the number of required credits to graduate online college programs varies widely, so you would need to check with the individual program in these cases.

When it comes to a graduate degree, the numbers differ. Master’s degrees typically demand 36 to 54 credits to graduate. Doctoral degrees, on the other hand, require 90 to 120 credits and a thesis.

Most credit hours are assigned to courses according to the number of credits they include. Classes meet for approximately one hour per credit hour over a 16-week semester. However, these numbers potentially differ between schools.

Classes generally meet three hours a week and offer three credits. A passing grade in these classes will earn you three credits toward your degree.

When pursuing an undergraduate degree, your university will require you to choose a major. The chosen major will demand the majority of the credits you will need. Other credits will go toward other required courses and general electives.

Different schools and programs call for different credit thresholds depending on what major you choose. You can find the exact number of credits required to earn your desired degree on the school’s website.

College Credit Requirements from Five Top Universities

As you may have guessed, the requirements needed to graduate can vary widely, depending on your program of study and the school you choose to attend. In this next section, we look at various colleges throughout the United States and explore the details of their tuition, college credit requirements for a bachelor’s degree, and briefly touch upon their master’s programs. This will give you some idea of the different requirements from institution to institution. 

University of Chicago

University of Chicago credits to graduate

The American Baptist Education Society founded the University of Chicago in 1890. Also known as UChicago or U of C, it serves as a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. You will find this institution of higher learning’s main campus in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

The institution has five graduate research divisions, including:

  • New Collegiate Division
  • Biological Sciences Collegiate Division
  • Social Sciences Collegiate Division
  • Physical Sciences Collegiate Division
  • Humanities Collegiate Division

Moreover, this university has a single undergraduate college. These contain all the University of Chicago’s interdisciplinary committees and graduate programs.

University of Chicago Tuition Cost

In 2021, the tuition cost for full-time students seeking an undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago is a flat fee of $59,256. This fee, along with others throughout this article, excludes other expenses like books, student life, etc.

The tuition to enroll in their master’s degree programs vary by which research division you choose.

University of Chicago Bachelor’s Credit Requirements

Instead of credits, the University of Chicago uses the unit as its unit of measurement for course degree requirements. For reference, one unit (100) equals 3 1/3 semester hours (five quarter hours). Courses with greater or lesser Unit values—for example, 150 or 050—carry proportionally more or fewer quarter or semester credit hours. 

The University of Chicago requires a total of 42, 100-unit courses for graduation. Fifteen courses for general education and 27 for your chosen major and electives.

Undergraduates are required to take a range of courses. First, there is general education (Core), which requires 1,500 units.

Here are the areas of study for general education:

  • Humanities: requires 600 units/six quarter courses
  • Natural and Mathematical science: requires 600 units/six quarter courses
  • Social Sciences: requires 300 units/three quarter courses

General electives require 800–1,700 units. Moreover, whether you earn it by course registration or petition, units for language courses are usually counted toward electives.

Lastly, there is the major that you choose, which calls for 1,000–1,900 units. The University of Chicago offers over 50 majors to pursue.

Altogether, you need a minimum of 4,200 units of credit for an undergraduate degree. You have to earn at least 3,800 of these college credits by course enrollment as opposed to test-taking.

You can opt for taking online classes while earning a degree at the University of Chicago. However, the university does not have formal online degree programs that extend across all departments. Therefore, there is no number of required credits to graduate from online college programs.

University of Chicago Master’s Credit Requirements

UChicago offers a myriad of options regarding master’s programs. While their pages do not specify the credit requirements for each program, they do set the time it would take to finish the programs. For example, for a full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA), it would typically take 21 months to complete

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania credits to graduate

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university. It is also one of the first nine colonial colleges to be chartered before the American Declaration of Independence. Moreover, the founders established Penn in 1740.

In addition to 12 professional and graduate schools, the University of Pennsylvania has the following undergraduate programs:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Wharton School
  • School of Nursing.

University of Pennsylvania Tuition Cost

For students seeking an undergraduate degree in 2021, the University of Pennsylvania charges a flat fee of $54,652 for its tuition. These fees apply to students in and out of state.

For UPenn’s master’s degree tuition, you will need to pay $7,052 and multiply that by the number of courses you want to take—excluding their general and technology fees. For instance, if you will take four course credits, you will need to pay $28,208 (other expenses excluded).

University of Pennsylvania Bachelor’s Credit Requirements

You will need 32 and 36 college credits for a bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania. The required credits numbers depend on the number of units required to achieve the major.

There is a minimum number of courses you must take, but it is never less than 12.

In addition to the major, students must generally complete 20 credits outside the major to satisfy the College General Education and Free Elective Requirements. You will need no more than 36 credit hours credits to graduate college in four years.

The University of Pennsylvania doesn’t offer an online bachelor’s degree program.

University of Pennsylvania Master’s Credit Requirements

Credit requirements to get a master’s degree in the University of Pennsylvania are the following:

  • Master of Philosophy in Education (M.Phil.Ed.): requires a minimum of six credit
  • Master of Science in Education degree: between 10–13 credits
  • Counseling and Mental Health Services M.S.Ed.: requires a minimum of 10 credits

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley credits to graduate

The University of California, Berkeley was once dubbed as the University of California and UC Berkeley, Cal. Faculty established the higher learning institution in 1868 and California’s first land-grant research university. Moreover, this university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

UC Berkeley’s 14 schools and colleges offer students over 350 degree programs to pursue.

University of California, Berkeley Tuition

In 2021, the tuition to study at the University of California, Berkeley, is $14,312. Out-of-state students must pay an additional supplemental $29,754 for a Nonresident Supplemental Tuition.

Regarding graduate programs, UC Berkeley charges $14,426 and an additional $15,102 to out-of-state residents. You who are interested in a double major will have a pro-rated supplemental tuition amount based on your areas of study.

University of California, Berkeley Bachelor’s Credit Requirements

You will need 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley. The total credits include transfer and advanced high school credits submitted to your Berkeley record.

Of the 120 required credits, you will need the following courses:

  • Thirty-six upper-division credits (courses numbered between 100–199).
  • Graduate-level courses (200–299) may also apply those credits to the Upper Division credit requirement.
  • Six upper-division credits outside your major department or department cluster.

University of California, Berkeley Master’s Credit Requirements

To earn a Master of Social Welfare (MSW) degree from UC Berkeley, you will need a minimum of 54 college credits from graduate-level coursework (200–299). You must earn 25 of these credits from integrative seminars and practicum placements.

Texas State University

Texas State University credits to graduate

Texas State University (or Texas State) is a public research university established in 1899 as Southwest Texas State Normal School in San Marcos, Texas. In addition to having ten colleges, the university has over 50 schools and departments that offer over 100 unique degrees and majors.

Texas State University Tuition Cost

If you are a Texas resident, you will need to pay $11,860 tuition. If you are from out of the state, you will need to pay $24,100. These fees vary based on what certificate program and degree you pursue.

If you are looking to get a break on tuition, be sure to check out our guide on Finding and Applying for College Scholarships.

Texas State University Bachelor’s Credit Requirements

The Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry requires 120 credit hours. Thirty-six must come from advanced (300 or 400) courses in biology and chemistry.

To obtain a bachelor’s, Texas State University requires you to complete three hours of English literature. Moreover, you have to complete 43 hours of Computer Science courses.

Completing 120 credit hours of computer science courses are required for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Computer Science degree. Moreover, Texas State University breaks the requirements into these areas:

  • Three hours of mathematics
  • Three hours of English
  • 36 advanced or nine hours writing-intensive requirements

Majors must complete 37 credit hours of coursework in computer science.

Earning a Bachelor’s in Art or Bachelor’s in science in Psychology demands 36 credit hours of Psychology coursework. Students must minor in a scientific field with nine advanced science-based hours.

Texas State University Master’s Credit Requirements

The minimum number of credits for a master’s degree program is 30, and the maximum number is 69.

The following are additional credit requirements for programs offered by Texas State:

  • Master’s in Accounting degree: required to complete 30 credit hours
  • Master’s in Anthropology degree: required to complete 36 credit hours.

Columbia University

Columbia University credits to graduate

In 1754 Britain’s King George II established Columbia University in Manhattan, Columbia, adjoining the Trinity Church. It is the oldest university in the state of New York.

The founders organized the state’s fifth-oldest higher learning institution into twenty schools—four undergraduate and 16 graduate schools.

Columbia University Tuition Cost

It doesn’t matter how many credits you’ll be taking; if you enroll for eight terms (17 credits), you need to pay a flat tuition rate for Columbia University. In 2021, UChicago charges $32,232 per term.

However, the tuition per credit hour is $1,934, and the tuition for a 30-point program is $58,020.

Columbia University Bachelor’s Credit Requirements

Each student must earn 124 points of academic credits for a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. On top of this credit requirement, you must take the Columbia College Core Curriculum to fulfill this university’s needs.

Their credit requirements also apply to transfer students.

Columbia University Master’s Credit Requirements

Students must register for and earn 30 semester hours of credit to earn each degree, along with a formal essay. Also, you could opt for completing a departmental integrative project or comprehensive examination and 32 credits.

However, if you want to pursue multiple degrees, this is where matters get more complex.

Here are some examples of minimum credit requirements for pursuing multiple degrees:

  • Masters of Art (M.A.) and Masters of Science (M.S.): 60 credits
  • Masters of Education (Ed.M.): and Ed.M.: 90 credits
  • Master of Art and Science and Masters of Education: 60 credits

Moreover, for each master’s degree, you need an additional 32 credits or an essay.

During your final five-year period, and before your degree, you have to meet recency requirements. These requirements apply to you pursuing an M.A., Master of Arts in Teaching, M.S., and Ed.M. must complete at least 16 credits through Teachers College. 

college credits needed to graduate


No matter what degree you pursue, you will put in a lot of effort, money, and sweat to achieve your goals. However, the payoff is worth the hardships you will face during your journey.

Use the guide we provided to help you make a better decision when choosing what college to attend and how to manage your finances.

Now you have a better idea of the number of needed credits to graduate college plus tuition rates and credits required for a master’s degree. While some of these schools do not specify their policies on two-year degrees, we have other resources for credits for an associate’s degree.

If you have any more questions about pursuing a master’s or BA degree, explore our thorough online college FAQ for answers.

While we did not cover that much information on credits to graduate online college programs, we have a guide that can give you more general information on online courses.

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