Academic credit systems worldwide – the ultimate guide for international students.

Masters Degree

Academic credit systems worldwide – the ultimate guide for international students.

Academic credit systems are standard systems used to measure how well students are doing and if their effort has paid off during the course of their degree course. There are several different kinds of academic credit systems, based on the country you choose to study abroad in from between the top study destinations. Here are the academic credit systems worldwide and everything you need to know about them so you know exactly what your grade adds up to and how well you are doing. 

What is an academic credit system?

Before we dive into the academic credit systems worldwide, we should first define what an academic credit system actually is. An academic credit system is a standard that universities use to assess student’s work during their study programs. It’s good to know how credits work and how grades in one academic system are converted to another. 


During the course of degree courses, students receive a number of credits, based on knowledge and skills they’ll get when they finish the course. It’s also based on student workload and contact hours when they choose to study a master’s degree. Typically, the more effort that is put into a course, the more credits it’ll be worth. Students may be assessed when it comes to factors like actual attendance, tests taken during the degree program, projects,research work and oral or written examinations. 


Worldwide academic credit systems

Next, we will talk about the different credit systems around the globe. Some are similar to each-other, while others are completely unique and different. From the United States to Europe to the United Kingdom, here are the academic credit systems worldwide that you should know about. 

United States

If you want to study in the United States, most study programs and universities use the Semester Credit Hours (SCH) system. This system is based on 30 credits per year if you are a full time student. A credit hour in the United States is usually a workload per week of one hour in class and two outside class during the semester. The total workload for one credit is between 45 and 50 hours, with at least 15 of them being contact hours. 


These hours can be represented in several forms like in the form of homework, fieldwork or practical courses. You’ll need a specific number of credits in order to graduate from your degree program. Credits can help judge if you’ll need to take a preparation program or if you’ll meet admission requirements to your bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Credits may also affect your GPA and may in fact determine tuition fees for your degree program. 

Read more6 Remarkable Aerospace Engineering Schools in the US in 2023

Europe (excluding the UK)

If you’d rather study in Europe, you’ll most probably be using the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), which was introduced in the year 1989. This system is used in all European countries, excluding the United Kingdom, which has its own system. In the European system, 60 ECTS is taken by students during a full time study year, ranging between 1500 and 1800 study hours. That means that the workload for 1 ECTS is somewhere between 25 and 30 srudy hours. The system is designed to judge how well students are doing and whether they are achieving the learning outcomes needed after a certain course of study. It also helps streamline student mobility and transfer if students want to transfer to study from one European country to another. 


The weighting for an ECTS module depends on the workload required to achieve the course. This workload is calculated through the number of contact hours, the amount and length of written or verbal exercises, class preparation and private study time. It also counts examinations, clinical and practical hours, professional training placements and so on. Everything you do for a study course is counted, weighted and placed into your ECTS which then determines your grade. 

Read more: Stellar English-Taught Law Schools in Europe

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is separate from the rest of Europe when it comes to the academic credit system used. In the United Kingdom, most universities use the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). Usually, a full course workload for one semester is made up of 60 CATS points, or units, which add up to 120 CATS per year. This system is the UK’s own personal system that helps academic credit to be transferred between the various higher education institutes. Continuing education courses also use CATS points, including some that lead to undergraduate or graduate degrees. Courses that are separate from other degrees also get CATS points if you receive academic credits for partaking in them. 


However, you should keep in mind that an institution may not accept or count a transferred CATS credit, as students aren’t automatically entitled to them. These decisions are up to each university to make, as well as admissions decisions based on previous credits. If you want to transafer your CATS points to another university and move there, you should first check with the new institution directly so that you don’t get disappointed after you’ve made the move and are forced to repeat certain courses for credit. 


In many countries, they may use more than one academic credit system. For example, each university may set their own academic credit system, which they will present on their website. In this case, you’ll have to convert your credits on a personal basis. It’s good to know thta most universities that set their own unique system will have a comparison table so you can translate your grades into other academic credit systems, and vice versa if you want to apply to the university. 


For example, Australia is one of those countries that doesn’t have a unified academic credit system. Each university decids credits according to the student workload and how many study hours are needed of each course program. However, they have the Australian Qualifications Framework that can help you figure out how to transfer your credits for both undergraduate and postgraduate study programs. 

Read more: Pursuing a master’s degree in Australia: 10 Reasons why you should study “down-under”

Benefits of academic credit systems 

When it comes to being international students, you can really benefit from academic credit systems. These systems show the credits you have earned for your study program and present the kind of work you have submitted to successfully graduate from the program of choice. These systems offer a transparent and reliable way of showing the value of achievements like degree programs. These credits are written in a transcript that you can present to any employer or future learning institution. 


Here are some benefits of academic credit systems that you might not have thought of: 

  • They support your entry to a postgraduate degree program through keeping track of your academic achievemenets to gauge whether you have met the needed requirements or not. 
  • They estimate program workloads accurately so you know exactly how much work you’ve put in or will need to put in for a course. 
  • They allow seamless transfer to other universities, while keeping some or all previously achieved credits. 
  • They are recognised internationally so you can transfer these credits and study abroad in the study destination fo your dreams.
  • They are proof of previous studies when you are looking for a job. 
  • Universities use them to set degree costs that are fair and according to credit hours so you don’t pay more than you should. 

academic credit system

In conclusion, academic credit systems can be found all over the globe. Each country typically has their own academic credit system, which they use to judge student performance and see how much workload the student has actually done. These credits can be used to transfer from one university to the other in a country, or even if you study abroad as they are recognised around the world. They are a transparent and easy way to show how well students are doing or have done during the course of their studies! If you still feel like you don’t know which credit system your university is using or you don’t know how to convert your grades, you can always turn to the experts at Uni-App to help you do so!

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Apply for a Bachelors, Masters or Postgraduate Degree

For Quick Search

Master Bachelor MBA Foundation Germany United Kingdom United States France Computer Science Medicine Financial Management (FM) Arts, Design & Architecture Business & Management