University College

Planning Your Semester

How Many Classes Should I Take?

Each course you take is measured in "credit hours." Credit hours refer to the number of hours per week you are in the classroom during a 14-week semester. Most courses are 3 credit hours. For most courses, you will be in class approximately three hours per week.

To earn a bachelor's degree you need to accumulate 120 credit hours, approximately 40 courses. In order to graduate in four years, students should take 15 credit hours per semester.

Note: Full-time status for financial aid purposes is 12 credit hours. Students completing only 12 credit hours per semester will take longer to complete their degree.

Course Load Recommendations

For every 1 credit hour in which you enroll, you will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying. Therefore, to help determine the course load most appropriate for you, use this formula:

Example for 3 credit hours (1 course)
(3 hours in class) + (6 to 9 hours study time) = 9 to 12 actual hours per week
Example for 12 credit hours (4 courses)
(12 hours in class) + (24 to 36 hours study time) = 36 to 48 actual hours per week
  • Full-time students enroll in 12 to 18 credit hours per semester.
  • Part-time students enroll in 1 to 11 credit hours per semester.

The course load that is best for you depends on a variety of factors, such as other commitments, study skills, time-management skills, and self-discipline. To determine the course load which is most appropriate for you, please refer to the following guidelines:

Employment obligations Course load if working
Working 40 hours per week 3--6 credit hours
Working 30 hours per week 3--9 credit hours
Working 20 hours per week 6--12 credit hours
Working less than 20 hours 12--18 credit hours

Still can't decide?

It is important to remember that there are only 24 hours in each day and only 168 hours in each week. It is common for college students to try to participate in more activities than their time allows and, as a result, perform poorly in many of the activities. Unfortunately, this poor performance often extends to school work.

We offer the following questions in a worksheet format to help you make the most of your time.

Fill in the blanks

1. Number of hours in a week:
2. Average number of hours you sleep per NIGHT (ONE night):
3. Number of hours per WEEK for hobbies, recreation, church, and any other scheduled activities (include driving time, if appropriate):
4. Number of hours per WEEK you work and/or take care of household duties:
5. Number of hours per WEEK needed for eating, shopping/errands, watching TV, and traveling to and from school and/or work:
6. Number credit hours you plan to take:
7. Time needed for study (2.5 x #6):

Personal Time

You've probably noticed that items like "child care" and "spending time with friends and family" aren't specified above. These are difficult areas to break down into "hours per week" for most people.

Although college can take up a large chunk of your life, remember that it is important to make time for yourself and your significant others. This sort of personal time is crucial to your success in college.