If you are planning to study in the USA but have already heard the terms “credits” and “full time student” and have no idea whatsoever what they mean, I will just tell you to chill out. It’s not that hard to understand. This post is to clarify doubts about the American college system works.
So, each class you take has a certain amount of credits. They can go from half a credit up to four credits. Each credit is correspondent to an hour that you will be in class during the week: if your class is a 2 credit class, it normally means you will go to class twice a week and spend one hour in class each time or go once a week and spend two hours in class.
When you take less than 12 credits, you’re considered part-time student. Normally institutions charge tuition by credit when students go part-time. When students take from 12-18 credits/semester, they are considered full-time students. Most institutions’ semester rate won’t change from 12-18 credits, so if you take 12, 15, or 18, tuition price won’t change.
Once you’re on a student visa, you’re required to take at least 12 credit hour/semester in order to keep your status. While going to school full-time, you are allowed to work on campus only part-time. After studying full-time for two semesters, you can take a semester break. Full-time employment is allowed on your break.