NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Q: How many credits should I take if I plan to work while completing my degree?

For most people, the number of credits you should take each semester will be an individual choice based on a variety of factors.  Generally, full-time undergraduate students take about 15 credits per semester and full-time graduate students take about 12 credits. If you are planning to work full or part-time while completing your degree, you will have some additional time requirements to consider.  Here are a few items to consider when choosing how many credits are right for you.


Ask yourself how much time you will have for work and how much time you will have for studying or completing assignments.  Every individual works at their own pace and every individual's work situation is different.  Carefully consider this to ensure you do not end up overwhelmed in your coursework.


What other time commitments do you have? Do you have children, aging parents, or animals to take care of? If so, consider this in your credit choice.


Are you receiving financial aid? If so, you may have a specific number of credits you are required to take to keep your financial aid funding. 


What is your time-frame for completing your degree? Finishing your degree in a specified number of years may be important to your career or financial future or you may just have a goal date in mind.  Some degrees, like a master's degree, have time limits for how long you can take classes toward your degree program. 


Is this your first semester back after a long break? If you have not taken classes in awhile or are new to a graduate program you may want to start with fewer credits to ensure that you are able to be successful in those courses. You can always register for more courses your second semester if your course work load is more manageable than you thought.


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