Academic credit systems Worldwide – A Guide for International Students

academic credit systems worldwide
Masters Degree

Academic credit systems Worldwide – A Guide for International Students

Academic credit systems are standard systems used to measure how well students are doing. They also show if students’ effort has paid off during their degree courses. 

There are several different kinds of academic credit systems worldwide. These are based on the country you choose to study abroad in between the top study destinations. Some universities might even have their own unique systems. 

Here are the academic credit systems worldwide and everything you need to know about them. This is so you can figure out exactly what your grade adds up to. You can also find out 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 students’ work.

This assessment is during the course of their study programs. It’s good to know how credits work and how grades in one academic system are converted into another.

During the course of degree courses, students receive several credits. This is based on the knowledge and skills they’ll get when they finish the course.

It’s also based on the 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 and tests taken during the degree program. They might also be evaluated on projects, research work and oral or written examinations. 

Read more: All you need to know about academic credits in Australia

Most unique academic credit systems worldwide 

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. Read on to learn more! 

1. The 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. This is only 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. This amounts to two hours outside class during the semester.

The total workload for one credit is between 45 and 50 hours. At least 15 of these credits are contact hours. 

These hours can be represented in several forms. Forms may be in homework, fieldwork or practical courses. You’ll need a specific number of credits to graduate from your degree program.

Credits can help judge if you need to take a preparation program. They can also measure if you’ll meet admission requirements to your bachelor’s or master’s degree program.

Credits might also affect your GPA. They might even determine how much tuition fees you pay for your degree program. 

Read more6 Remarkable Aerospace Engineering Schools in the US in 2023

2. Europe (excluding the UK)

If you’d rather study in Europe, you’ll probably use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The system was introduced in the year 1989.

This system is used in all European countries, excluding the United Kingdom. This is because the UK has its own system. In the European system, 60 ECTS is taken by students during a full-time study year.

This means a course takes anywhere between 1500 and 1800 study hours. The actual workload for 1 ECTS is somewhere between 25 and 30 study hours. The system is designed to judge how well students are doing.

It can also state whether students achieve the learning outcomes needed after a certain course of study. It also helps streamline student mobility and transfer. This makes it easier for students who 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 and the amount and length of written or verbal exercises.

It also takes into consideration class preparation and private study time. It counts examinations, clinical and practical hours, professional training placements and so on.

Everything you do for a study course is counted. It is then weighted and placed into your ECTS, determining your grade. 

Read more: Stellar English-Taught Law Schools in Europe

3. The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is separate from the rest of Europe regarding 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 comprises 60 CATS points or units. These add up to 120 CATS per year.

This system is the UK’s own personal system. It helps academic credit to be transferred between the various higher education institutes. Continuing education courses also use CATS points. Some of these lead to undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Courses that are separate from other degrees also get CATS points. This is if you receive academic credits for partaking in them. 

However, you should remember that an institution may not accept or count a transferred CATS credit.  Students aren’t automatically entitled to them.

These decisions are up to each university to make. They base these admissions decisions on previous credits and other factors.

If you want to transfer your CATS points to another university and move there, you should first check with the new institution directly.

This ensures that you don’t get disappointed after you’ve made the move from one university to another. Unfortunately, you may be forced to repeat certain courses for credit. 

4. Australia

In many countries, they may use more than one academic credit system. For example, each university may set its own academic credit system. They usually present this system on their website.

In this case, you’ll have to convert your credits personally. It’s good to know that most universities that set their own unique system will have a comparison table.

This ensures you can translate your grades into other academic credit systems and vice versa. 

For example, Australia is one of those countries that doesn’t have a unified academic credit system. Each university decides on credit systems. This is typically 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. This applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate study programs. 

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

What’s the main difference between credit points and credit hours?

You might feel confused about the two terms credit points and credit hours. However, rest assured that they are the same thing. Credit points, like credit hours, simply measure study load. They are just different ways to word the term.

Different schools and countries may use either variation of the term. Nonetheless, they both amount to the work a course needs to be completed. That means if you hear either term, don’t panic! Just know they are equivalent to one another.

academic credit systems worldwide
Students who graduated with credit points.

The surprising benefits of academic credit systems 

When it comes to being an international student, you can really benefit from academic credit systems. These systems show the credits you have earned for your study program. They also present the kind of work you have submitted to graduate from the program of choice successfully.

These systems offer a transparent and reliable way of showing the value of achievements like degree programs. These credits are written in a transcript.  You can then present this transcript 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. This is through keeping track of your academic achievements to gauge whether you have met the needed requirements or not.
  • They estimate program workloads accurately. This means 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. You may also be allowed to keep some or all previously achieved credits. 
  • They are recognised internationally.  This ensures you can transfer these credits and study abroad in the study destination of your dreams.
  • They are proof of previous studies when you are looking for a job. 
  • Universities use them to set fair degree costs. Fees set according to credit hours guarantee you don’t pay more than you should. 

Read more: 8 Benefits of Accredited Online Degree Programs

In conclusion, academic credit systems can be found all over the globe. Each country typically has their own academic credit systems worldwide. They use these academic credit systems worldwide to judge student performance. They can also see how much work the student has actually done.

These credits can be used to transfer from one university to the other in a country. They can even be used to study abroad as they are recognised around the world. They are a transparent and easy way to show how well students are doing.

If you still feel like you don’t know which credit system your university uses, you can always turn to the experts at Uni-App to help you do so! You can also reach out if you don’t know how to convert your grades. 

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