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Credits, Contact Hours, and Units Abroad

Academic Credits

It is the student’s responsibility to find out how much credit s/he will be earning on a study abroad program.  The Center for Global Engagement will gladly sit down with students and explain how classes taken in other countries are translated into TCNJ unit-based credit.  Ultimately, however, it is the student’s job to determine what s/he needs to maintain progress toward a TCNJ degree.  Below is some information that has been collected by the Center to help students determine the amount of credit earned overseas.

Units, credits, and contact hours. TCNJ courses are measured in “units.” Each unit is worth four “credits,” as most US institutions measure their courses in credits, or “credit hours.”   The conventional rule of thumb is that one US credit is equal to fifteen “contact hours” spent in a classroom or a laboratory.  (This information is clearly outlined on the Academic Evaluation Form provided to study abroad students by the Records and Registration office.) So:

90 contact hours = 6 credits = 1.50 TCNJ units
75 contact hours = 5 credits = 1.25 TCNJ units
60 contact hours = 4 credits = 1 TCNJ unit
45 contact hours = 3 credits = 0.75 TCNJ units
30 contact hours = 2 credits = 0.50 TCNJ units
15 contact hours = 1 credit = 0.25 TCNJ units

(Please note: Students taking part in ISA programs will find this guide particularly useful, especially those enrolled in language courses.)

Most programs administered by study abroad providers will measure courses in “credits” or “contact hours.”  Student may use the guide above to determine how many “units” they are earning.

Australia and New Zealand courses are usually the equivalent of TCNJ courses, unit-wise. Most students in Australia and New Zealand take four, four-credit classes for the equivalent of sixteen credits or four TCNJ units.  For example, Victoria University each of their courses is generally 12 AUS credits which equates to 4 US credits or 1 TCNJ unit.

ECTS – European credits – are not equal to US credits.  Students studying abroad in Europe (especially those in direct or exchange programs, like University of Nottingham) and taking courses assigned an ECTS value will need to be aware that ECTS credits are not equal to US credits.  TCNJ uses the conversion scale of “2 ECTS credits = 1 US credit = 0.25 TCNJ units.”  A course measured at 5 ECTS is equal to 2.5 US credits, for example.

British credits from Northumbria U are not equal to either ECTS or US credits.   Courses at Northumbria University in Newcastle are measured in a different type of “credit,” and their courses weigh either 20 credits or 10 credits.  20 NU credits = 1.5 TCNJ units and 10 NU credits = 0.75 TCNJ units.

Questions? Please contact a staff member at the TCNJ Center for Global Engagement ( or your study abroad program provider!