How Many Credits are Needed to Graduate College?

For most degrees, you generally need 120 credits to graduate college. However, the exact number can vary from school to school and degree to degree, and how you make those 120 credits will definitely depend on the college you’re attending. Here’s what you need to know about credits and graduating college.

How Many Credits are Needed to Graduate College?

The straightforward answer is 120 credits. But it’s a little more complicated than that (which we’ll get to in a moment below). However, some degrees will require 124 credits or even slightly more. Always double check with your college and your advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate with your desired degree. You don’t want to come up on graduation day and realize you’re 4 credits short!

What Else Do You Need to Graduate College?

As we mentioned above, it’s not cut and dry that you will need 120 credits. You can’t just take classes in any subject, accumulate 120 credits total, and graduate. You will have to take specific courses – and it will depend on the school.

Most colleges will require you to take general education courses, classes required for your major, and electives. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Not every single school out there fits this mold!

General Education Classes

General education requirements, also known as Ges in some schools, are classes that will help you broaden your horizons and education. They will span everything from math to foreign language – even if you’re planning on majoring in English.

There is usually some leeway here in the classes available to you. For example, if you are required to take a course in History, you are likely able to choose from a number of different history courses including Ancient Rome, American History, and Ancient Philosophy. So you can absolutely take general education classes that interest you, too!

General education classes usually take up to 60 of your required 120 credits.

Major Requirements

And, of course, you will have to take your major’s requirements. Some of these will require some pre-requisites that don’t necessary work towards your major, but you’ll be able to put them towards your overall 120 credit count (some could even work as GEs).

The number of credits and the exact classes you need will be dictated by your school. Many colleges and universities have their major program and its requirements right on their website. Keep in mind though that these may be out of date and your department head or advisor should always have up to date requirements for your intended major.


Even with your major and general education classes, it’s likely you won’t hit the required 120 credits. That’s where electives and even minors come in. You can take classes that interest you, even if they have little to nothing to do with your major. If you take enough courses in one area of study, you may even accumulate enough to earn a minor – something that could help your career search, too.

Colleges usually allow you to take 30 electives. This is really dependent on your area of study and that program’s requirements.

How Many Credit Hours are needed to Graduate in 4 Years?

Year in CollegeCredit Hour Requirements
Freshman 0 - 30
Sophomore31 - 60
Junior61 - 90
Senior91 - 120

Although the answer to the question, “how many credits are needed to graduate?” is usually 120, it’s much more nuanced than that. If you ever have any questions about major requirements, general education classes, or what you need to graduate, make sure to reach out to your advisor as soon as possible to avoid any graduation or degree problems.

Are you curious what majors will require of you in order to graduate? Or what your career options are after you graduate with a degree in the field? Use College Raptor’s College Major search tool to uncover all the information you need about a number of areas of study!