What Is a Credit Hour for Education?

by Crystal Lewis
College campus building

Every college has a standard process for calculating tuition and determining how much academic credit should apply to each course. A common way of doing this is with a standard unit called a college credit hour.

Definition

USA Education Guides defines a credit hour as a numeric unit of study at an institution of higher learning.

Measured by classroom hours

The number of credit hours for a course is directly correlated with the number of hours students spend in class each week. Classes that meet for four hours per week are usually considered four-credit-hour courses.

Time Commitment

Courses in which students earn fewer credit hours may have less demanding homework loads. For instance, most traditional college students are required to take a one-credit-hour survey course during their first semester. This course is not as difficult as the three- and four-hour courses they will take.

Tuition Calculations

Credit hours are used to determine course costs. For instance, a college that charges $50 per credit hour will bill the student $100 for a two credit-hour course.

Degree Programs

Most degree programs require students to complete a certain number of credit hours focused in their area of study before a degree is conferred. For instance, an English major may need to complete 50 credit hours in English before he can graduate.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Crystal Lewis is a former insurance professional who has been a freelance writer for a variety of online publications since 2009. She holds a bachelor's degree in business and is currently pursuing a master's degree in theology at an East Coast seminary.

Photo Credits

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