What are university credits? Everything that you need to know about ECTS credits (2023)

What are university credits, what do ECTS credits do, how much is a university credit worth, how can you earn credits, what are free-elective credits... You will have your answer to all these questions!

During your university studies, you will often hear someone ask "what in the world actually are ECTS credits? " Admit it, this isn't the first time you've looked up information about them. Maybe it's the second, the third... the fourth time? Whatever it is, don't worry, because it makes sense that you have: ECTS credits are quite a confusing and vague concept, which can easily lead to misunderstandings. After all, how can we not go and forget exactly what is a bloody ECTS credit? But stay calm, because Erasmusu are here to help all you students out: today, once and for all, we are going to make it clear what these university credits actually are. From here on out, you can use this article as your reference point for next time you're searching for your next searches, information, because we know: you will come back!

What are university credits? Everything that you need to know about ECTS credits (1)

If you're wanting to know more about how university credits work, maybe this is because you are about to start your university studies, or perhaps you are thinking on going on a Erasmus year. Both of these really important reasons are grounds for having ECTS credits and this gives us a clue about what they are there for. Here we go!

(Video) Understanding the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System

What are ECTS credits at university?

The term ECTS credits (European Credits Transfer System) references the amount of hours of work that each student completes. Now well, how can we comparatively measure work that not just one student, but all the students of the world need to do in order to equate to a semester, a conference, a university activity or a subject? You'll see that it is practically impossible to work it out exactly.

How many hours is one credit worth?

It is assumed that one credit represents 25 - 30 hours of work for a student. This takes into account hours spent in the classroom as well as the hours spent studying outside of it. But, at the end of the day, it is nothing more than a simple calculation that the universities do to their activities or taught classes.

How many hours is 60 credits worth?

Maybe you would have seen that a year of degree study is equivalent to 60 ECTS credits. If we follow the formula of hours to work given before, 25 times 60 gives 1, 500 hours of work altogether per year for each student. If we assume that an academic week lasts 9 weeks, we are talking about 36 weeks per year. Then if after, we divide this between the 1, 500 total hours, we can work out that university students will study for 41 hours a week. Do you agree?

Well, many people are critical about ECTS credits, I am going to say why they are like that. Why did they create this system?

(Video) ECTS Credits Calculator

What are university credits? Everything that you need to know about ECTS credits (2)

Workload of ECTS credits

The ECTS have a very important function within the project which integrates all those who are studying degrees in the world, and especially in Europe. In 1999, the Ministries of Education of different European countries met in the city of Bolonia to sign the so-called Bologna Process which then led to the creation of the European Higher Education Area. Amongst the various propositions that were put forward concerning this method, ECTS credits are presented as a way of quantifying the amount of work in each degree program and there bringing cohesion to make sure they are all similar and integrated.

This has brought about many advantages and solved the heartache for those that had to do it when there was not a common reference point between systems and countries. For example, if you are thinking about going on Erasmus, thanks to the number of degrees and modules in each university that are measured in ECTS credits, nowadays there is a direct equivalent between what you should be studying at your home university and what you are going to study in your Erasmus destination. So you just have to find classes similar to those that you would study at home and choose more or less the equivalent workload. This process is made clear in the Learning Agreement that you have to sign later on with your study abroad coordinator and your host university. With this, I don't want to say it is going to be a piece of cake, but at least there's some support and you don't have to take out your calculator to go from French credits to German credits until you get to Spanish credits

Now, sometimes there can be curve-balls when your home university doesn't know and doesn't answer regarding what credits each of their classes are worth; in this case be patient because the problem will end up being resolved.

(Video) What is ECTS?

What usually happens in your host university that instead of having just one class that is worth 6 credits, you will have three classes that are worth 2 credits. In any case, you have to juggle and connect the subjects that are equivalent to one in your home university. For students who come from countries such as Finland where, despite the efforts of the European countries to standardise everything, their education system remains different to that of Spain and they divide each skill or module up more.

How to get university credits?

The real way to get credits is, of course, to pass your classes. If you pass all of them, each year you would have accumulated 60 ECTS credits, going up to 240 ECTS credits for completing an entire degree course in Spain. I said Spain, because in other countries such as France, their equivalent to the degree, "la licence", lasts for 3 years and is worth 280 ECTS credits, and after this, they can go straight into doing a masters degree. But if you've been studying in Spain, you can also do the same thing. So basically, even if you have studied for three years in Spain, you will still have enough credits to go onto a Masters degree. And some people take advantage of this by going to France in their fourth year of Erasmus and doing the first year of a Master degree at the same time as doing their Erasmus.

What are university credits? Everything that you need to know about ECTS credits (3)

But there are also other ways to obtain credits. How? With the credits called free-elective credits. As students, throughout your academic lives, you will receive offers to sign up to cultural university activities, university sports societies, student representative roles...

(Video) What is a credit hour?

For example, some students volunteer as guides on the open-days to show future students around the university; whilst others go to welcome and guide newly-arrived Erasmus students and help make their lives a bit easy on their first few days. All of these people will receive ECTS credits in exchange for their efforts. And if you keep accumulating the credits that you have earned from these activities, in the end, you will have enough to have them classed as a full-blown subject. Is there a class that doesn't interest you at all and you have earned free-elective credits doing another extra-curricular activity? Then don't worry, you can validate these credits for this subject. And there you have it!

And don't forget the optional or compulsory work experience which you are able to complete as a student. Thanks to ECTS credits, these are also taken into consideration when you have finished your studies. And little by little, credit by credit, you will have finished your degree in a blink of an eye.

Don't forget!

If you're looking for accommodation, we can help you out. Erasmusu offers hundreds of spacious rooms, studios, university dorms and flats in lots of different cities, so you will be able to find your perfect home, before you even get to the city.

(Video) How to get admission in German University without ECTs credits

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What are ECTS credits at university? ›

ECTS allows credits taken at one higher education institution to be counted towards a qualification studied for at another. ECTS credits represent learning based on defined learning outcomes and their associated workload. ECTS enhances the flexibility of study programmes for students.

What is the ECTS equivalent in the US? ›

Usually, the conversion rate from ECTS to American credits is 2:1, meaning 60 ECTS would convert into 30 American credits. However, this conversion rate varies, as some universities in the U.S. may use different credit systems.

How do I convert my university credits to ECTS? ›

The typical “full course load” at an American university implies 15 U.S. credits per semester, which is equal to 30 ECTS credits at a European university. So the factor between American and European credits is usually 2, i.e. 1 U.S. credit point equals 2 ECTS credit points.

How much is 3 credits in ECTS? ›

There are also universities that use 3 US credit = 5 ECTS = 10 CATS. In the end every university can determine their own conversion rate.

How do I calculate my ECTS? ›

How to calculate ECTS? To calculate your ECTS in a particular subject, Add up your credit hours for the subject in 1 week, then multiply it by will total weeks for the subject. Finally, Divide it by 30 (1 ECTS = 30hrs).

How many ECTS is a bachelor degree? ›

A UK undergraduate degree equates to 180 ECTS credits and a UK Master's degree (two semesters plus dissertation) equates to 90 ECTS credits.

What is a good ECTS score? ›

The ECTS Grading scale
ECTS Grade% of successful students normally achieving the gradeDefinition
3 more rows

How many ECTS is 60 American credits? ›

The conversion rate from ECTS to American credits is typically 2:1, so 60 ECTS equals 30 American credits.

How many US credits is 5 ECTS? ›

The rough equivalent of 5 ECTS credits is 2.5 American credits. We therefore advise to transfer credits along a 2:1 ratio. Students from universities with an American credits system should verify their school's credit-granting process. Transfer of credits is at the discretion of the home institution.

How do you convert GPA to ECTS? ›

Multiply the grade (A=5, B=4...) by the number of ECTS credits. Multiple the number of courses with the same grade and add them together-> in this example (5x6x10)+(4x6x5)+(3x6x15)=690. Divide the total by the total ECTS credits to find the grade per ECTS, the Grade Point Average -> 690/180=3,83.

How much is 1 ECTS? ›

One ECTS is equal to 28 hours of study. Bachelor's and Master's degree course subjects have a study load of either 5 ECTS or 10 ECTS, which is equal to 140 (5 x 28 hours) and 280 (10 x 28 hours) study load hours, respectively. The total study load for a three-year Bachelor's degree course is 180 ECTS (3 x 60 ECTS).

How many hours is 1 ECTS? ›

One ECTS credit is equivalent to 25 working hours.

How many ECTS do I need per semester? ›

Study load and credits

Our credit system is based on the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The normal full time study load for a semesters is 30 ECTS, and 60 ECTS in a year. A full Bachelor degree consists of 3 years of 60 ECTS each, 180 ECTS in total.

How many credits is a degree? ›

Most bachelor's degree programs require 120 college credits. At a four-year institution granting an average of three credits per class, that's five classes per semester. Many institutions require more than 120 credit hours to graduate, with some programs exceeding 140 total credit hours.

How many US quarter credits is an ECTS? ›

One ECTS credit is comparable to one half (. 50) semester credit [. 75 quarter credit] at a regionally accredited post-secondary institution in the United States."

What is a GPA of A on the ECTS scale? ›

To calculate the GPA:

Multiply the grade (A=5, B=4...) by the number of ECTS credits. Multiple the number of courses with the same grade and add them together-> in this example (5x6x10)+(4x6x5)+(3x6x15)=690. Divide the total by the total ECTS credits to find the grade per ECTS, the Grade Point Average -> 690/180=3.83.

What are the ECTS grades? ›

German university grades
1Sehr gut (excellent)
2Gut (good)
3Befriedigend (satisfactory)
4Ausreichend (sufficient)
1 more row

What are the percentages of ECTS grades? ›

Grades are assigned among students with a pass grade as follows: A best 10% B next 25% C next 30% D next 25% E next 10% A distinction is made between the grades FX and F that are used for unsuccessful students.

How many ECTS is a 4 year bachelor degree? ›

Bachelor's degrees consist of 240 ECTS credits, which are the equivalent of a study period of four years. Eventually some bachelor's degrees consist of 180 or 360 ECTS credits, that it means that they are equivalent a study period of three years, 180 ECTS (Global Studies) or six years, 360 ECTS (Medicine).

How many credits is a Masters? ›

What are the grades for a Master's degree? Taught Master's degrees require 180 credits worth of work, either through modules, projects, assignments and a final dissertation.

What is 240 credits equivalent to? ›

Qualifications: credits, modules and NQF levels
New NQF levelVocationalProfessional
7Advanced diplomaBachelor degree Advanced diploma
7Postgraduate certificate (120 credits and 132 credits)Postgraduate Certificate in Education
6Diploma (240 credits and 360 credits)Diploma (360 credits)
6Advanced certificate (120 credits)
4 more rows
Dec 20, 2021

What is ECTS credits calculator? ›

ECTS Credits Calculator: Designed by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the ECTS or the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a tool that has been instituted to make it easier for students to transfer between countries and have their academic qualifications and study duration recognized abroad.

What is a 3.0 GPA in Germany? ›

CGPA (Best: 4.0, Worst: 2.0)German Grading System (Best: 1.0, Worst:5.0)
3.02.50 (Good)
2.92.65 (Satisfactory)
2.82.80 (Satisfactory)
2.72.95 (Satisfactory)
17 more rows

What grade is 60 ECTS? ›

What is the ECTS grading scale?
Degree ClassPercentage ScoreECTS Grade
First-Class Degree70%-100%A
Upper Second-Class Degree60%-69%B
Lower Second-Class Degree50%-59%C
Third Class Degree40%-49%D
1 more row
Oct 26, 2021

How many years of college is 60 credits? ›

A two –year program equals approximately 60 credits; a four-year baccalaureate equals approximately 120 credits.

How many semesters is 60 credits? ›

How long is 60 credit hours in college? 60 credit hours in college is generally equivalent to two full-time semesters, or around one full academic year. It typically takes a student taking 12-15 credits per semester to complete 60 credit hours in two semesters.

What is 120 credits equivalent to us? ›

Many US universities require about 30 credit hours per year. This equates to 120 full credit hours for a traditional bachelor's degree.

What is 20 credits equivalent to? ›

The credits associated with a course doesn't reflect the number of contact hours per week – in the form of seminars, lectures, tutorials, etc – and vary between subject-areas. As a guide for American students: 10 Manchester credits is equal to three US credits. 20 Manchestr credits is equal to five US credits.

Do ECTS credits expire? ›

The short answer is “no.” Most credits do not have an expiration date.

What is 30 credits equivalent to? ›

How Many Classes Is 30 Credits? In general, standard college courses are usually worth 3 semester credit hours. Based on that, 30 credits is usually equal to about 10 classes.

How many ECTS should I take? ›

A full-time student would need to complete 60 ECTS per academic year, which represents about 1,500 to 1,800 hours of study. According to the ECTS, study programs in Europe are worth the following number of credits: Bachelor's degrees (first cycle) are worth 180 - 240 ECTS (3 to 4 years).

What is minimum 300 ECTS? ›

How much ECTS points are required to graduate? According to the Bologna Accords, 300 ECTS points are required to complete a master's degree. It includes the number of ECTS points that the students will acquire from the master's program at the IEC.

How many hours is 30 ECTS? ›

One academic year is accepted to be 60 ECTS*30 hours=1800 hours of workload, and one semester is accepted to be 30 ECTS*30 hours=900 hours of workload.

How do you calculate study load? ›

Study load (Equivalent Full Time Student Load) is a measurement of how much a subject is worth in a normal full-time (120 credit point) year. To calculate a study load (EFTSL) for a single subject, divide the number of credit points for the subject by 120.

How many credits is a lot for a semester? ›

Breaking it down further, most college courses at schools with semesters are worth three credit hours. So on average, you would expect to take five classes a semester. That's above the usual minimum, which is 12 hours, and below the maximum, which is normally 18.

How many ECTS is a Masters program? ›

Typically, the number of credits needed to earn your master's sits between 30 and 60 credits, but there are some exceptions.

How many semesters is 51 credits? ›

At 15 credits per semester, it'd be 4 semesters.

How many credit hours is 5 credits? ›

Oftentimes, in the U.S., colleges will count credits as the number of hours spent in class. For example, a 3-credit class may mean 3 hours of class or lecture time, and a 5-credit course may equal one hour of class each day of the week for 5 total hours.

What does 300 ECTS credits mean? ›

According to the Bologna Accords, 300 ECTS points are required to complete a master's degree. It includes the number of ECTS points that the students will acquire from the master's program at the IEC.

How many hours of class is an ECTS? ›

Typically, one year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits. A 3-year Bachelors program has therefore usually 180 ECTS-credits; a 2-year Masters program usually 120 ECTS-credits. One ECTS credit point equals on average 30 working hours.

How many hours is one credit? ›

One credit hour is equal to 15 to 16 hours of instruction. Your credit hours are calculated over the full semester, which is generally 16 weeks. Most lecture and seminar courses are worth 3 credit hours. You must complete at least 45 – 48 hours of class time in one semester.


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