Credit Hours Per Semester, Unraveled
Classes on a semester plan are 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits in length. One credit classes are usually reserved for labs that are associated with other classes. Two hour classes are usually classes such as health classes and other elective classes such as Intro to Communication and Music Appreciation. Four hour classes are courses that have built-in labs or require extra criteria such as a Mass Communications classes being part classroom, part volunteering at a radio station or newspaper. But the majority of classes are three hour courses.
The number of courses that a student can take each semester depends on the difficulty of the classes and how the classes are scheduled. Most colleges use a Monday, Wednesday, Friday/Tuesday Thursday schedule. Classes that meet three times a week are 50 minutes each, while classes that meet twice a week are usually one and one-half hours in length.
There are also a few classes that meet once a week for three hours, but these classes are usually held at night. To be considered a full-time, a student must carry at least 12 credit hours. How these credits are divided is up to the student. For example, a student can take 4 3-credit hour courses, or a combination of 1 through 4 hours courses. For instance, a Freshman might take Freshman English (3 hours), a Physical Science class such as Biology and its lab (4 hours), a Foreign Language class (3 hours) and Music Appreciation (2 hours) to get their 12 hours. First year students usually take between 12 and 15 credit hours a semester, while students in their second year or more take an average of 18 hours, the majority of which are within their major. At most schools, anything over 24 hours needs special approval from an academic advisor.