According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study in 2017, students transferring college at least once account for about 35% of total US students. Most of them had to accept a 43% loss of credits along the transfer path due to US schools’ different credit systems.

Specifically, US colleges and universities use the two most common academic calendars: quarter credits and semester credits. Without credit conversion, transferred students would spend more time and money. This guide aims to shed light on how to transfer their studies from quarter to semester units or vice versa. As such, students can earn some money and time indirectly.

How Is A Quarter Unit Different From A Semester Unit?

The United States of America is the land of freedom and its political to education systems are not exceptions. Regarding US education, many schools choose to adopt the semester credit system. Meanwhile, others may implement a quartered calendar system, which grants students’ credits according to quarter credit hours.

Specifically, a significant number of US schools operate in the semester system. Their academic year would start in late August and end in early May of the following year. During this time, they start the first semester in the fall, followed by a winter break. The second semester starts in spring and closes with a summer break at the end of the academic year. The number of courses students take in a semester is dependent on many factors, such as their time availability, the degree they are pursuing, and the school’s course load policies. 

Meanwhile, there are four equally divided terms at schools on a quarter calendar. Schools using the quarter system will have quarterly sessions in fall, winter, spring, and summer. Each session consists typically of 10 weeks. The quarter system is shorter than the semester system.

2021 Quarter To Semester Units Conversion Guide

A successful college degree potentially leads to a successful career ahead. Source:

Due to those differences, students tend to have fewer classes and credits per session than those in the semester system. The same course will take less time in a quarter system than in a semester system. Precisely, a quarter unit is weighted as ⅔ that of a semester unit. In that sense, you will need to accomplish more quarter-credit units to finish your degree than accreditation standards. 

How To Convert From Quarter To Semester Units?

For accreditation in college, units are also called hours or credits. In all cases, you should contact the admission officer to figure out if your calculations are correct. But basically, you can consider semester units as 1.5 times more than quarter units.  From that, you can calculate how many semester units for a bachelor’s degree.

For example, a standard bachelor’s degree will require 120 credit hours under the traditional system. If you are to attend a college using the quarter credit system, the same bachelor’s degree will demand you 180 credit hours – or 180 quarter units.

Similarly, a semester unit is equal to 1.5 quarter unit, and a quarter unit is equal to 0.667-semester unit. In other words, your associate degree under the conventional system takes 60 quarter units or 90 semester units. A master’s degree with 36 quarter units will be equal to 54 semester units. Such logic will apply further to any course available at colleges. 

How To Convert From Quarter To Semester Units?

Credit transferring can be confusing, just remember the 1.5 golden number. Source: eduworld

How Quarter vs. Semester Unit Systems Affect Your Tuition Fees?

You should pay more attention to different unit types, especially if you want to transfer schools. Be very careful before deciding to move from quarter to semester units or semester to quarter units. Your transfer decision would lead to paying more tuition fees and spending more time because you don’t have enough credits after transferring. 

For instance, you have been studying for a bachelor’s degree with quarter units. You have finished 2 courses, each of which consists of 3 quarter units. Once you transfer, these 6 quarter units convert to only 4 semester units. In that case, your credits from previously 2 quarter-unit courses now only give you enough credits for one semester-unit course in case 1 semester course is equivalent to 4 credit units.

On the other hand, if both a semester-unit school and a quarter-unit school charge you $200 per credit, their actual total fees are entirely different. Let’s check an example of 120 semester credit units and 180 quarter credit units for a bachelor’s degree. For the semester-unit school, your bachelor’s degree costs $200×120. But the same bachelor’s degree will cost $200x 180 in a quarter-unit school. The amount will be hugely different. 

The same matter will need your attention once you plan to transfer to a school on a different calendar from your current one. With your semester credits converted to a lesser amount in quarter units, you need to study more at the new school to meet their required credits. In that case, your tuition expenses per year or in total would amount to much more than those in the old school.

Plan carefully before you move! 

Battle: Quarter vs. Semester – which one is better?

Some Believe Quarter Units To Be Better

Because quarter-unit courses take less time, many people prefer them. It is about an early exposure to the job market after graduation. With less time in training, you can enter the job market quicker with a great sense of accomplishment. The payback duration for your degree investment will be shortened consequently. 

At the same time, you might have more time for extra courses during the same degree tenure if you wish. These can be complementary for your major or for your personal growth. With such extra effort, you may land in a more advantageous position when entering the workplace. 

Some Believe Quarter Units Are Better

A shorter course in the quarter system could help you start your career earlier. Source:

Yet There Are Downsides To The Quarter System

For a quarter system course, you could enjoy a relaxed schedule with fewer classes per quarter. However, the quarter system has a significant downside – internship opportunity. Most internships align with the traditional semester systems; hence, internships often kick off in summer – the time when students in the quarter credit system are still studying. As a result, students in the quarter system will have to proactively search for businesses flexible enough to adjust to the quarter schedule. 

This internship limitation is a major disadvantage for students in the quarter system, especially when the job market is more and more demanding these days. Without internship experience, students would not graduate with the best resume, diminishing their recruitment chances. If you are currently in the quarter system or intend to attend one, note this carefully. Other than that, the quarter system offers great upsides as mentioned earlier. 

Many Choose To Follow The Semester System

Many students take up the semester system because they believe that it can translate into more in-depth teaching. The longer the course, the better it is. Students would have more time on their hands to dig into challenging assignments. It could also facilitate students who wish to invest more time learning about advanced topics in the field. 

Moreover, since high school, most students have been studying in the semester system. Hence, they trust that the semester system will ensure a seamless transition to college life. Besides, the semester system also helps them get adequate support from their faculty members when required. A shorter course in the quarter system might not have enough time for such a deeper relationship.

One more critical element is that each class will last up to 75 minutes only in the semester system, compared to the much longer ones in the quarter system. 

The longer the course, the better it is

Many students opt for a similar semester system when transiting from high school to college. Source: Pexels

Steps To Transfer From Quarter To Semester Units &  Vice Versa

No matter why you choose to transfer your credits, you should make sure that the education you have paid for and the knowledge you have obtained would never go to waste. To make that happen, you should get a copy of your transcurrent school transcripts and carefully review your new school’s credit transfer policies. After that, you can submit your credit transfer application and request your new school to audit your records. 

Your new school will base on the documents you have submitted to approve the completed credits applicable to your degree in the new school. Moreover, they would clearly instruct you on the credit transfer outcomes and what subjects you are credited or not to fulfill accordingly. Either you are transferring from quarter to semester units or from semester to quarter units, the transfer process should be transparent and for your optimal benefits.  

The Final Thought On Quarter To Semester Units Conversion

As the great Malcolm X, an African American Muslim human rights activist in the civil rights movement once said: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” You don’t want to waste your time pondering on whether to transfer your credits or study again. You’d better use that time to learn new things and prepare for your future. There are admission officers to help you proceed with your study seamlessly.

Hope it help and good luck!

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By John Hobbs

John Hobbs is a senior blogger at Jobandedu. Despite being a successful researcher, advisor, and writer, Hobbs had to go through stages and challenges to figure out his success and passion. Hence, his biggest passion was to help people in understanding their true potentials. It is his experience in various fields and specifications that makes his down-to-earth insights valuable and practical. His articles provide detailed job advice, including all the job details through researching and his own experience as well as insider tips he used to succeed. Hobbs also write articles sharing his passions, thoughts, and research in a unique and interesting writing style.

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