How many years of college is 60 credits?

In short, 60 college credits is typically equivalent to 2 years of full-time undergraduate study. Most bachelor’s degrees require around 120 credits, so 60 credits represents half of the credits needed for a 4-year degree.

Typical Credit Requirements

A full-time college student usually takes 15 credits per semester. With two semesters in an academic year, a typical full-time course load is 30 credits per year. Therefore, it typically takes 2 years of full-time study to complete 60 credits.

Here is a breakdown of typical credit requirements:

  • 15 credits per semester (full-time)
  • 30 credits per academic year
  • 60 credits in 2 years
  • 120 credits in 4 years for a bachelor’s degree

However, there are some caveats to keep in mind:

Part-Time vs Full-Time

This timescale assumes a full-time course load. Students who attend part-time usually take fewer than 15 credits per semester. At 12 credits per semester, for example, it would take 5 semesters (or 2.5 years) to complete 60 credits.

Quarter vs Semester System

Some colleges use a quarter system rather than a semester system. Quarters have around 10 weeks of classes, compared to 15 weeks for semesters. On the quarter system, students take around 10 credits per quarter. So in 2 years, a typical full-time load would be:

  • 10 credits per quarter
  • 40 credits per academic year (4 quarters)
  • 80 credits in 2 years

On the quarter system, 3 years is typically needed to reach 60 credits at a full-time pace.

Community College Credits

Many students complete 60 credits or an associate degree at a community college before transferring to a 4-year university. In most states, an associate degree requires 60 credits of community college coursework. These credits are transferable to bachelor’s degree programs as general education and lower-division major requirements.

Why 60 Credits Represents 2 Years

At most colleges, a full-time course load is defined as at least 12 credits per semester. Taking 15 credits per semester is very common for full-time students. Here is a breakdown of why 60 credits represents 2 years of full-time study:

  • 15 credits per semester is considered full-time
  • Most bachelor’s degrees require 120 total credits
  • With 60 credits down, that leaves 60 remaining
  • At 15 credits per semester, 4 semesters (or 2 years) are needed to complete the remaining 60 credits

In other words, dividing the typical 120 credit requirement for a bachelor’s degree into 60 credit halves represents 2 years of study. The first 60 credits encompass the first 2 years, while the remaining 60 credits make up the last 2 years.

Exceptions and Individual Factors

While 60 credits generally corresponds to 2 years of college, there are some exceptions and individual factors to consider:

High School AP/IB/Dual Enrollment Credits

Some students enter college with previously earned credits from:

  • AP Exams
  • IB Coursework
  • Dual enrollment while in high school

These credits may enable a student to reach 60 credits in less than 2 years. For example, someone who enters with 15 AP/IB/dual enrollment credits would only need 45 credits in college to reach the 60 credit milestone.

Heavy Course Loads

Some students take heavier course loads, such as 18-21 credits per semester rather than the typical 15 credit load. This can accelerate their pace and allow them to complete more than 60 credits in 2 years.

Summer Courses

Taking summer classes every year allows some students to earn more than 30 credits per year and reach 60 credits in less than 2 full academic years.

Repetitions, Failures, Withdrawals

On the other hand, some students take longer than 2 years to earn 60 credits because of:

  • Needing to repeat failed courses
  • Withdrawing from courses
  • Changing majors
  • Personal issues affecting course load

In these cases, a student might take more than 2 years at a full-time pace to accumulate 60 college credits.

Other Aspects of Progress to a Degree

In addition to total credits, other aspects impact how long it takes to complete a degree, such as:

General Education Requirements

Most of the 60 credits in the first 2 years are general education requirements in areas like writing, math, social sciences, humanities, etc. Students may need to take specific courses to fulfill these requirements before moving on to higher level courses in their major.

Lower vs Upper Division Major Courses

Typically, the first 60 credits include lower division introductory courses in the major. The last 60 credits focus more on upper division advanced courses for the major.

Transfer Student Considerations

Transfer students with an associate degree may have some repetition of lower division courses when changing schools. This can add extra time to reach graduation at the 4-year institution.

Changing Majors

Students who switch majors may find that not all their credits transfer to the new degree program requirements, which can lengthen time to graduation.


In summary, 60 college credits typically equates to 2 years of full-time undergraduate study. This assumes:

  • A typical semester system
  • A full-time course load of 15 credits per semester
  • No prior credits earned before college
  • No repetitions, failures, or withdrawals
  • No change in major

While individual circumstances vary, 60 credits generally marks the halfway point to earning a typical 120 credit bachelor’s degree. Students who attend part-time, switch majors, fail classes, or transfer schools may take longer than 2 years to earn 60 college credits.


Sixty college credits represents about two years of full-time undergraduate study. This corresponds to half of the roughly 120 total credits required for a bachelor’s degree at most colleges and universities. Factors like attendance status, course failures, withdrawals, school transfers, heavy course loads, and summer enrollments can shorten or lengthen the actual time to accumulate 60 credits. Overall, measuring progress in credits provides a general gauge for the time spent working towards a degree, with 60 credits marking the halfway point in most standard 4-year programs.

Leave a Comment