The number of credits needed to receive a bachelor degree based upon a full-time semester of 15 credits per (on average) is 120 college credits and takes approximately four years to complete. This number and time period is a roughly calculated estimate based upon a student receiving 30 credits annually without attending summer classes.
To attain a bachelor degree college credits are divided among general education requirements, electives and the requirements of the major that you have selected.
General Education College Credits
All colleges and universities have a set number of credit hours that are required to complete in order for a student to meet the general education requirements for their undergraduate bachelor program. All schools within a particular educational system* generally adhere to the same number of classes required for a student to meet this objective. Variances occur when a student transfers from a semester to a quarterly system, goes from a private to a state school or when the classes that normally apply towards general education requirements become directed towards an elective or a major. The standard for general education credits is about 50 credits.
College Credits for Electives
Elective credits are credits derived from classes a student takes that do not contribute towards their major or general education credits. However, they can be classes that qualify for a major or electives of another student.
Electives are classes you take to personalize your college experience and body of knowledge that you draw from going forward in life after your college experience.
Often students use electives for art or areas of personal interest other than their major. However, in some cases students use their elective classes to enhance their major and gain specialized knowledge. The amount of electives varies by school and the major, but standard practice at most schools is around 35 credits.
Declared Major College Credits
In addition to your general education requirements are those for your major. For a student to receive a degree in a particular field of study, he or she must complete a certain number of courses that demonstrate proficient level of knowledge in that field. The number of college credits required to attain the major vary according to the subject and this is one of the primary reasons why there are variances in the minimum credit requirements for a student to attain their bachelors.
With a range starting from 35 credit units and spiraling upwards, your major can even extend undergraduate studies beyond the traditional four year completion time. To determine the specific number of credits required for your major check with the school you attend or plan on attending.
*Noted examples: state schools in the same state, theological schools within the same religious denomination, etc.