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Earn a Degree and Finish in Four

Time is Money

Undergraduate students wishing to graduate with a baccalaureate degree in four years will need to stay on track and successfully complete an average of 15 credits each semester or 30 credits each academic year.

Enrolling in 12 credits each semester or 24 credits each academic year will delay graduation for at least one year. The extra costs associated with a fifth year of college can be more than $10,000. Taking longer to graduate will also incur "opportunity costs" associated with delaying entry into a career and losing out on professional wages.

The Longer it Takes, the More it Costs

Research indicates that the longer it takes a student to fulfill the requirements of a given curriculum, the lower the chances are of the student graduating.  According to the Hechinger Report article "The real cost of college? It's probably even higher than you think." - Nine out of 10 freshmen think they'll earn their bachelor's degrees in four years, but fewer than 50% actually will. The most common reasons for students not staying on track to graduate are:

  • Still deciding their major
  • Changing majors
  • Taking unnecessary courses
  • Working part-time or full-time

Part time fees are charged per credit as are credits taken during the summer term. Students taking only 6 credits each semester will take up to 10 years to graduate with a bachelor's degree. This can mean an additional $15,000 or more of tuition, not to mention the "opportunity costs" of foregoing a professional salary for 10 years. It adds up quickly.

Components of a Degree will depend on the Program

  • A program includes all the elements required for a major or outcome (BA, certificate, etc.). Some general education objectives may be included in the program but many are not.
  • A curriculum includes all elements needed to satisfy degree completion for a given catalog year. This includes program requirements, general education objectives, and free electives needed to reach the minimum number of required credits for the degree.
  • The minimum number of credits required per ISU policy are as follows:
    • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credits
    • Associate’s Degree = 60 credits
    • General Education Objectives (Bachelor or Associate) = 36 credits
    • Major – program requirements = 30 credits
    • Upper Division (UD) Overall = 36 credits
    • Upper Division in the Major = 16 credits (included in UD overall)
    • Minor or Concentration = 18 credits

Discover & Formally Declare a Major

The ISU catalog year is the official means used to determine graduation requirements (including general education objectives).

The academic year a student matriculates into ISU is the default Catalog Year that establishes their academic record. Catalog requirements may change from one catalog year to another.

Students should visit the department of their chosen program and formally declare their major by the end of their sophomore year. This action connects students with a major advisor and program communications.

Take Steps to Stay on Track

  • Use the Degree Works degree audit tool to review progress on curriculum requirements for your chosen program each semester.
  • Meet with an advisor to develop an educational plan (MAP) that will project a series of courses each semester until graduation.
  • Schedule an advisor appointment each semester to review your educational plan (MAP) and discuss any necessary adjustments that may arise.
  • Register for at least 15 credits each term to Finish in Four years.

Professionals in the Financial Aid Office assist students in determining how much each year of college will cost, developing a budget, and applying for educational funds (grants, loans, and scholarships).

Major Academic Plans (MAPs) are designed to help students stay on track to complete their degree and Finish in Four years when they can average 15 credits in each of the required 8 semesters.

Degree Works is a web-based degree audit tool designed to assist students and their advisors successfully navigate ISU curriculum requirements. Students will log into MyISU and run their degree audit to:

  • View progress toward graduation requirements
  • See courses still needed to satisfy university requirements
  • Determine how changing a major will affect progress toward graduation

For students thinking about changing majors, Degree Works provides a "What If" tool to assist in exploring options and catalog challenges as they contemplate selecting a new major, changing majors, adding a minor, or adding additional degrees.

Note: Degree Works is a tool designed to aid in academic planning, but is not intended to replace face-to-face advising sessions.

Access to Degree Works is provided through MyISU. Log in and click on the Degree Works Card or open the menu in the top left corner of the page and search for the card through the Discover tool. 

Tuition Lock Program

ISU offers a Tuition Lock Program for new first time college freshman who are Idaho residents. This program focuses on Finishing in Four years and can assist families in making college more affordable.