Important Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

If you’re earning your bachelor’s degree, you’re going to have to meet certain requirements. Bachelor degree requirements usually include a minimum GPA in your classes as well as a mix of general education, major, and elective courses that add up to at least 120 credits. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know plus answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

To earn a bachelor’s degree, you typically need at least 120 credit hours.

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree available at colleges and universities. It usually takes four years to complete and includes a major, which is your desired area of study. Bachelor’s degrees are needed in order to earn more advanced degrees such as master’s.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

In most 4-year programs, bachelor’s degrees will require at least 120 credit hours. This can vary from school to school and program to program and will require a mix of different types of classes (from gen ed to major specific courses).

Let’s explore the credit and course types more closely.

1. General Education

In order to earn a 4-year degree, students must first complete their general education requirements, also known as GEs. All students, regardless of major, must take these courses. Common classes required include:

  • Freshman English 101 and 102
  • History courses including American and World History
  • Foreign language courses
  • A math course
  • Science courses with or without labs
  • Arts courses

Some GE requirements are set in stone (such as Freshman English 101), but others have wiggle room. For example, for your science classes, you likely will be able to pick from a wide range of courses including Weather, Geology, Astronomy, Chemistry in Art, and others. The exact GEs you need to take and the number of GE credits you need to earn will depend on your school.

Generally, about one-third to one-half of your bachelor’s degree will be GE courses.

2. Major Courses

Major courses are classes related to your declared area of study. Students are usually required to take 30 to 36 courses related to their major. Most colleges will have a direct list of classes they have to take in order to have completed the major. Some courses will be required while others, like GEs, have wiggle room. For example, one English major may opt for creative writing while the next takes screenwriting.

Your advisor can help you stay on target for your major track.

3. Elective Courses

Students earning a bachelor’s degree need to get up to 120 credits. However GEs and major classes are not going to be enough to hit 120 credits. Therefore, students have to take electives. These can be anything you want, so pick up some classes that simply look interesting to you. Some students use this space to earn a minor, but it is not required.

4. Required GPA

Colleges and universities will require you to have earned a specific grade within your course in order for it to count towards your major. This depends on the school in question. Some require you to have a 2.5 in the class while others may require a 2.0. Other colleges might have different grade minimums for GEs versus courses related to the major.

Always check with your advisor or college about minimum requirements to make sure you don’t have to retake a course.

Tips for Meeting Your Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

During your entire college experience, you should be aware of your bachelor’s degree requirements. It’s not something that should be thought of the semester before you’re due to graduate!

1. Plan Ahead

 Many GEs and major requirements will need you to take prerequisites. For example, if you want to take Creative Writing 301, you would have had to take Freshman English 101 and 102. If you want to take Organic Chemistry, you need to have taken Calculus, Chemistry 101, and Chemistry 102. The exact prerequisites of your classes will depend on your school.

Also, 101 classes tend to be offered in the fall and 102 in the spring. Planning ahead to get your best course schedule can help you get any prerequisites out of the way and keep you on track for a timely graduation.

2. Start Your Major Early

 In order to avoid scheduling conflicts or other issues, start on your major early. You still want to get your GEs out of the way first, but there may be nothing stopping you from taking a class or two related to your major in your sophomore year of college. In some cases, you might even be able to take a class during your first year.

3. Meet With Your Advisor

Many colleges require you to meet with your advisor once a year at least. Don’t skip these meetings! They can help ensure you’re on schedule to graduate in four years and earn your bachelor’s degree. In fact, you might have to meet with them to even make your schedule for the following semester. Delaying these can result in you getting less than ideal schedules or missing out on classes you need for your major.

Bachelor’s Degree FAQ

Can You Earn a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College?

Some community colleges now offer bachelor’s degrees as well as associate’s. However, availability and major options can vary quite a bit. Many community colleges only have 1 or 2 bachelor’s programs, if they have any.

How does a Bachelor’s Differ From an Associate’s?

A bachelor’s degree takes 4 years and has a central focus, known as a major. An associate’s degree takes 2 years to complete and may or may not have a focus. An associate’s degree also tends to be geared towards learning skills for a specific career or job field. You do not need to have an associate’s to earn a bachelor’s.

Can You Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Under 4 Years?

Yes, with proper planning, hard work, and school approval, it is possible to complete your bachelor’s degree in under four years.

If you’re thinking about going after your bachelor’s degree, it’s important to plan ahead! It generally takes students 4 years or more to graduate! By understanding the requirements now, you can get on track to graduate on time!

Choosing the right school in the beginning can make all the difference to your bachelor’s degree requirements and graduation timeline. By using our College Match tool, you can find the right colleges and universities for you. Get started for free here!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.