Credit Creep

Few community college students graduate on time. One reason many spend extra time and money trying to earn associate degrees is because community colleges often require more than 60 credits to meet academic program requirements.

Most four-year institutions now stick to the standard of 120 credit hours, according to a study conducted last year for Complete College America. But community colleges are a different story.

The survey, which was not publicly released, was designed to be representative of public institutions in all 50 states. It looked at program requirements at 310 institutions, about half of which are community colleges.

The results are broken out by academic disciplines. They vary widely across states and even colleges within states. None of the 104 associate degree tracks surveyed had a median requirement of 60 credits or lower, according to the research conducted by HCM Strategists, a public policy research and advocacy firm. About 13 programs required 64 credits. Many topped 70 or more.

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