Course Load

Course Load is the total number of credit hours in which you enroll for a semester. Consider restrictions imposed by financial aid, scholarships and your own commitments. Advisors usually suggest that full-time new students stick to around 12 credit hours their first semester.

How many courses should I take?

12– 18 credit hours per semester, usually 3–4 courses

6–11 credit hours per semester, usually 2–3 courses

Less that half-time
5 or less credit hours per semester, usually 1–2 courses

Spring/Summer Terms or Accelerated Courses cover the same course content, but in a shortened amount of time. This usually means that the week-by-week demands for the class will take up more time compared to a non-accelerated course.

Time commitment per credit

For every one 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 the formula:

3 credit hours (1 course) = 3 hours in class per week. Plus 6 – 9 hours study time per week = 9–12 total hours per week

12 credit hours (4 courses) = 12 hours in class per week. Plus 24 – 36 hours study time per week = 36–48 total hours per week

Full time students enroll in 12 –18 credit hours per semester. Part time students enroll in 1 – 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 consider the guidelines below:

Consider employment obligations

If you work... We suggest enrolling in...
40 hrs per week 3–5 credit hours
30 hrs per week 3–9 credit hours
20 hrs per week 6–12 credit hours
Less than 20 hrs 12–-18 credit hours

Time management – How much school do you have time for?

Having a job, being a parent, taking care of family and friends, or several other obligations can consume a large amount of our students' time. Be sure to consider these in conjunction with your course load.

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 includes school work. Make your choices with all possible variables being considered.

College students have many responsibilities to manage. To support you with setting realistic expectations, consider using the course load calculator to examine "How much school do you have time for?"

Course load calculator

College vs. high school: What to expect

Task High school College
Class time 6 hours per day 12 hours per week
Study time Around 1–2 hours per day Rule of thumb: 2 hours of study per 1 hour of class; if going full time (12 hours), that equals 24 hours of studying per week. (Don't forget your part-time or full-time job. Together these easily add up to more than 40 hours a week.)
Tests Weekly at end of chapter quizzes 2–4 each semester (1 test at end of a 4 chapter unit). Pop quizzes, even on the day after a holiday. (Don't forget, sometimes final exams can count as 50% of your final course grade.)
Grades Passing grades (even D's) usually get you by To stay off academic probation, you must keep a 2.0 GPA (C average). Even if you earn a C- , you may need to retake the class.
Teachers Many times take attendance, may check notebooks, use chalkboard, imparts knowledge and facts, teach the text Known as "Professors"; Rarely teach the text; often lecture focused class sessions, may or may not use the white boards, expect students to read the chapters before class, etc.; require research; require thinking beyond the facts; rarely take attendance.
Free time Usually structured, parents, teachers and other adults set your limits The single greatest problem among most college students: time management of responsibilities. It is your responsibility to set your limits; design your hours of study, class, work, sleep, etc.

Contact us
Make an appointment with student services departments.

1961 Delta Road
University Center, MI 48710